Family vacations are the foundation of fond, lifelong memories for many adults. Parents want to instill those same memories in their children. While a family vacation to Disney World will certainly leave a lasting impression, it’s often the simple vacations where the whole family is learning and laughing that stand out. No matter what your family vacation plans are this summer, make sure your child’s experiences are filled with active learning, rather than passive “entertain-me” experiences.
As with anything in life, people who participate rather than just passively absorbing an experience get the most out of it.
Start with these three simple ways to help your kids learn while being active participants on your family vacation.
1. Allow Your Children To Navigate;
Put the kids in charge of maps – paper maps as well as phone apps. Have older kids figure out gas mileage and designate stops on road trips. If you’re flying somewhere, allow for time to explore the airport. Kids love the arrival/departure board and it’s a great way to talk about future travels. Before you leave, have your kids research your destination and plan a few outings. Encourage to check out state and national parks near your vacation spot. There are terrific Junior Park Ranger programs throughout the country’s national park system.
2. Play Games
Try and make your vacations electronics-free (or minimal). Spend your evenings playing board games or cards. Even very young children can learn to play Crazy 8’s or Hearts. Aside from having fun, your kids will hone their math skills, learn sportsmanship and bask in your undivided attention.
3. Leave Them Alone
No matter what your destination, vacation does not mean you all have to spend every waking minute interacting. In an age-appropriate way, leave your kids to their own devices. Let them figure out for themselves that the closer to the water they dig, the faster the hole is going to fill with water. It’s okay to let them climb on fallen logs or climb trees when you’re camping. Your tweens/teens will be fine to go get lunch on their own. Giving your child freedom on vacation builds their confidence – and yours!
While it can be fun to sit back and let a theme park entertain you, make your vacation an active, learning-full experience as well. Interested in more learning ideas to use when you’re out and about? Take a look at additional Special Education Resources, either on this site or through google.
Have ideas or activities that you and your family participate in during vacation? Please share in the comments below!