NDSU Extension - Mercer County

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Vacation: A Learning Experience

vacation, family vacation, learning experience

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Consumer Science

Juggling work schedules, kids’ commitments and the family budget may make some parents wonder if a family vacation is worth the effort. But before giving up, consider this: the kids might learn something from the experience.

Families take vacations for many reasons – to spend time together, have some fun, or rest and relax. However, these opportunities to visit other people and places and see something new can also boost your child’s academic achievement.

Children learn from all the experiences you provide for them outside of school. The more positive and constructive learning experiences children have outside of school, the better they do in school.

There is probably no better time for you and your children to learn than when you're on vacation. Everyone is together, everyone is ready for an adventure and, in many cases, and everything is new.

Children can help you plan the trip. Check out library books or the Internet to gather information about what you will visit. Each child can investigate one aspect of the trip and report on it during the trip to the rest of the family. One family member can plan one day of the trip, or one outing. Take turns making decisions on where or what to eat or deciding on what excursion to take. For younger children, a parent can read about the area or site while riding in the car. They can help with other parts of planning by figuring out a route and tracking it on a map or by making a list of things to pack.

Once you're on the trip, your children can serve as navigators and keep a trip log. Or try car games like "I spy with my little eye, something that starts with the letter ..." To teach financial responsibility, you might want to give them an allowance for souvenirs, or gifts to bring to others.

With today’s technology tools at parents disposable, there are many ways to utilize media to keep kids occupied, or to enhance learning. Consider pre-loading an mP3 player with a variety of audio books to keep the whole family engaged. Books written for a youth audience often appeals to a wide age range of family members. Take time to load smart phones or tablets with kid friendly apps. Don’t forget the necessary charging cords, or cables to sync to vehicle audio systems.

Of course, you'll want to see, and talk about, some objects of interest like museums and zoos. Remember to plan some down time. Bring some books for rainy afternoons or break times. Have children buy postcards, so they can write to their friends or family back home.

Once you're back home, have the family put together a trip scrapbook or photo book. The trip may be over. But the learning is just beginning.

Family vacations are a form of escape from the pressures of everyday life. They are valued as a time for family togetherness and for improving family communication. They can bring families together and bring about some positive sense of family by creating memories.

Source: eXtension.org

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