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Smart Traveling

July 17, 2010

If you are a parent who travels with children, you already know what  a challenge a big (or small) trip can be!  Not only do you have to pack the essential toothbrushes and underwear, but also entertainment, maps (unless you don’t live in the dark ages like I do and own a GPS), snacks, pillows…the list can be extensive.  If you go the same places each year, like camping every summer, you may be so organized as to develop a check list to be sure you gather all the important items before departure.

As more and more families are choosing to homeschool their children each year, “Educational Materials” are starting to make their way onto packing checklists. If you are blessed to be able to take a yearly vacation, how do plan it to be relaxing and educational?  Here are some tips:

  • Plan Ahead – In the midst of all you already have on your plate getting ready for the beach or to go see Grandma, take some time at least 3 months prior to departure to be sure you know where you’re going.  I’m talking Google Maps for Directions, but some of us are last minute mamas and don’t know if we’re headed North or South until the week before we’re going there!  If you at least decide where you will be going, you can then start to look into what you might find along the way and once you get there.  Children tend to remember and relate to things better when they have “a hook to hang it on”, so to speak.  Just like a house needs a sturdy structure to stand on, kids need a foundation to build their learning on.  If you are able to prepare them with verbal information, pictures from the internet or even request information and brochures from the welcome centers at your family’s destination, your children will start to form their foundation.  Once you arrive, they will recognize scenes from the places you are visiting and be able to identify higher profile landmarks.  The preparation you do in advance will help them to absorb more information once they are physically there.  Three months should give you time to incorporate a little of the prep work into your daily schedule.
  • Acquire maps for your kids – a map for each of them who are old enough to wield one!  You can get maps for free often times at – you got it – welcome centers or local banks.  Equip your children with a highlighter and invite them to chart your driving course.  There are so many map activities you can do with them in worksheet form (though I’m not a big fan of worksheets) or even verbally from the front seat.
  • Kids love cameras!  If you have access to a camera for your older kids, have them take pictures of points of interest to them. When they get home, they can use their pictures as illustrations for a report on their trip.  A great assessment tool with none of the stress of a number two pencil and paper test.

What do you do to help your children to travel smart?

Photo courtesy of kopper

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