This post is part of the Top Ten Series from Kid Blogger Network organized by Becky of This Reading Mama. (She is the same one that organized the wonderful ABC series this past winter). All this week, 25+ bloggers are sharing Top Ten lists for keeping our kids learning this summer. Be sure to check out the full list of participants.
Summer is when many families take advantage of vacation time to travel with their kids. But did you know these family trips can also be educational?
If you have any doubt, just read this homeschool curriculum submitted by one mom traveling the world with her kids. (Last I heard they were in Kuala Lumpur!) See below to find out how you can make your next family trip both educational and fun for everyone.
Of course, I recognize that travel – especially international travel – is not practical for many families. But thanks to the internet and the multiethnic communities in which many of us live, it only takes a little creativity to replicate many of the lessons below even if your “travel” is only local.
10. Learn the Mechanics of Travel
When our family travels, one of the main things our son learns about is travel itself: what airports, planes, buses, shuttles, and cabs are like. Luckily, he is fascinated by vehicles and machines, so this was a big plus as far as he is concerned! Before our last big trip we prepped by reading Richard Scarry’s A Day at the Airport, now one of his favorite books. Older kids can also help make reservations and plan itineraries.
9. Do the Numbers
Travel can be a perfect way to reinforce math lessons. As mentioned in this post about a trip through Thailand, traveling kids can learn currency conversions, timetables, bartering, and even budgeting. (My major math challenge is always converting from Celsius to Fahrenheit!)
8. Explore Geography
This is obvious and yet bears repeating because travel is such a golden opportunity to teach geography. As discussed in this great post about family road trips, travel can bring to life land forms and features like nothing else. What better way to learn about time zones and climate zones than traveling through a few? It is also a wonderful way to reinforce those map reading skills! For younger kids, you can create a visual travel timeline that will help them understand where and when they will be going.
7. Use Your Senses
When visiting a new place, one’s senses can be overwhelmed with all the new sights, smells, and tastes. Take advantage of this wave of sensations by helping kids isolate and explore them all!
As I mentioned at the beginning, you can do this right in your own neighborhood! I love this scavenger hunt one mother did with her daughter at a nearby ethnic grocery store.
6. Wonder at Nature
One of the major benefits of travel is the chance to marvel at the natural world up close. One of the biggest thrills of my life was the first time I approached the majestic Andes Mountains. Truly no photo can do them justice!
What better way to teach children about nature than to bring them face to face with a platypus in its natural habitat, or explore the black sand of a volcanic island, or scramble over rocks at low tide? Wherever you travel, be sure to expose your kids to the natural surroundings as well as the man-made wonders.
5. Bring History to Life
Travel can also bring kids face to face with historical places, which can capture the feel of a time period like nothing else. It is one thing to read about an historical figure, but quite another to visit the house he grew up in. And reading about the hardships of mining life is definitely not the same as getting to go into the mines for yourself. Ask about local historical sites and find one that is appropriate for your family.
4. Practice Another Language
If you are lucky enough to travel internationally, another bonus for your children is a chance to learn another language. Even if they only learn a few phrases in the local language, it can open their eyes to other ways of communicating and teach them courage by trying something new. If your child has already been exposed to another language, immersion travel – and particularly connecting with other kids – can give a tremendous boost to their studies. This type of trip is especially important if you have family abroad, as it can help bridge any communication difficulties due to language.
3. Appreciate Diversity
Travel can open kids’ eyes to different ways of eating, playing, thinking, and praying. Whenever possible, connect with local communities to explore local customs with your kids. The easiest way to do this is through personal connections, but you can also ask about local cultural sites or associations. Most people are proud of their local heritage and flattered that you are interested, so don’t be shy!
2. Discover Unity
But even more important than teaching about diversity is helping kids appreciate just how similar we all are despite our differences. When possible, take advantage of opportunities to connect to local people on a one-on-one basis, so that kids can get to know them on a personal level. If you have personal connections, take advantage of these. Otherwise, do your best to engage with local residents in a sincere way, and model this type of engagement to your children.
1. Get Involved
Take this new found understanding one step further and help your kids get involved in a local volunteer project. Doing service in a local community will help kids truly connect and take ownership of the issues facing that part of the world. It will also teach them that they can make a difference, and that travel can be empowering as well as entertaining.
For more great ways to keep our kids learning this summer, visit the Top Ten page for a full list of posts in this series.