Whether you are going for a day, for an extended weekend trip, or for a full week-long trip, traveling with the youngins can be a bit of a challenge. Well, that might be putting it lightly. One of the biggest challenges you'll face during your vacation is keeping the kids occupied, entertained, and not fighting with one another. A lot of parents resort to standing byes: video games, cell phones, and iPads loaded up with their favorite movies to keep the kiddos entertained for hours while traveling.
I've done all the above; I'm guilty as charged.
While these may work for a while, and they certainly keep most kids quiet for a time, it also seems like a bit of a missed opportunity. Not only are those video games sucking up all your kids' time — leaving you with almost no interaction at all — but most of these things are also not teaching the kids anything.
Instead, these long hours of travel could be the perfect time to sneak in a bit of education for your kids. In most cases, presenting educational vacations for your children costs very little money, and just requires a little extra preparation.
Teach Map Reading Skills:
Educational vacations don't always have to feel educational. Do you remember how much fun you had sitting in the back seat of your parents' car on a long trip and for once getting to tell them where to go? I mean before Siri and GPS came along and got us all hooked on the ease and convenience of technology. Or maybe it's just me who constantly asks Siri rather than stopping off to buy (much less read) a map. Nevermind the scary thought of “what do we do if technology fails us at the worst time??” Wouldn't it be great to teach the kiddos how to read a map, and let them experience for themselves how fun and empowering it is to be able to read a map for you on your next trip?
Younger kids can learn about their directions and how to use the map legends and keys to determine where they are. Older kids can learn how to navigate and measure distances to tell you where to go. And everyone will appreciate knowing how to read a map later on when Siri and the rest of the world's technology are flooding every aspect of their lives.
Trivia Trivia Trivia:
While you're prepping for an out-of-state venture, try looking up some trivia questions or fun facts about the state you'll be in. Fun Facts is a great reference site to use, and you'll find all sorts of interesting information you'll need to learn about the new state. Driving through several states to get where you're going? Try looking up things for each of the states or cities you will be traveling through. Then, when in route, start asking your kids the questions and reading the answers.
This is a fun way to teach them numerous things about different states, including their corresponding capitals, state animals and so forth
If you want to have educational vacations for your youngins, try to create a roadmap. Look for areas to visit that are significant, contain fun activities or interesting sights, and draw it out onto your little map.
If you want the kiddos to learn a little something, try having them create the roadmap! Then they will be doing all — or at least most — of the research to see what's on the way and how to get there.
And don't worry if your roadmap isn't in stone. In fact, it shouldn't be. If you get someplace and find that your planned stop no longer exists, search for an alternative. I can almost guarantee there is something to learn in nearly every corner of this country. Visit the attractions where those thinking caps can be useful for learning something.
Step away from the Plan:
Finally, don’t be so dang stubborn about sticking to the plan! It may be helpful (not to mention fun) to carve out some time from your well-planned itinerary, put your hair up, put the mud tires on and go “off-roading.” Deviate from “the plan” just a little bit. If there is an educational attraction nearby you and your kids are interested in, then heck yeah go!! Experiencing things together is probably the best way to make any trip educational. And most of all, you're doing it together, and it's fun!
And one of the best parts of all this? Most of these activities will disguise all that learning kids so often turn their noses up.
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