I love traveling, and I’m teaching my son to enjoy travel by including him in some of my adventures. But I don’t see travel just as a way to have mindless fun (although there’s nothing wrong with mindless fun). I also see it as a way to learn new things, whether it’s learning about local culture or learning about history or something else.
When my son and I travel, we don’t just do things like go to Legoland. We also make it a point to learn new things. By combining travel with learning, I hope that my son will learn to love learning, as well as learning to love travel.
Tips for Adding Education to Your Travel
If you want your child to get even more out of travel, it makes sense to add education to the mix. Here are some of the things I do to make travel educational, as well as fun:
- Visit educational sites: One of the easiest ways to add education to the mix is to visit educational sites. My son and I both enjoy hiking, so one of the things we did on our cross-country “moving tour” was to visit some of the petroglyphs of the Fremont culture at Dinosaur National Monument. We hiked a little to get a better look, and talked about what we saw.
- Have your child tell you about what you see: When I was growing up, my mom bought a book that described the geology of Idaho. When we went on camping trips, she’d have us take turns reading from the book. It was fun, and we enjoyed reading about geologic formations. I do something similar with my son. We get books of information, or look up information online, and I encourage him to tell me about it as we drive. He doesn’t need to play video games in the car when we have interesting and educational things to talk about, and landmarks to look for.
- Travel with someone knowledgeable: My cousin came to visit recently. He’s a history buff, and is especially knowledgeable about military history and American history. He came with my son and I as we visited some local Revolutionary War sites. He was able to add information and historical context for my son. Not only that, but he was able to demonstrate the workings of a gun using a hands-on display at Valley Forge. Traveling with someone knowledgeable was a fun way for my son to learn information from someone other than me (and someone he looks up to).
- Start when they are young: As with so many things when you’re parenting, it helps to have your child start when he or she is young. Get your children used to this way of travel. My son automatically reads signs now, because he’s used to it. Additionally, he is very patient when waiting in line at locations like the Liberty Bell, since he is used to these activities and realities. Because we have done this sort of thing for years, it’s expected, and it usually isn’t a problem.
- Talk to people: It’s difficult for me to talk to people, since I tend toward introversion. However, I make an effort when I’m with my son, so that he can meet new people, and get comfortable with people from different backgrounds and cultures. When we’re on the bus, or riding the train, I respond to people who want to talk to me, and encourage my son to learn from others.
Travel can be a great way to expand your child’s horizons. While it’s fun to visit an amusement park, don’t forget other experiences. You might be able to help your child learn new things, and better understand the world, if you add educational experiences to the mix.