So you’re heading off on an Australian family holiday, and while you know it will be fun and exciting for the kids, you’re wondering how to take advantage of the amazing opportunity to help them learn without even realising they’re doing so. The great news is that travel is a great way to teach kids about everything from general life skills to history and mathematics.
The greatest thing about learning through travel is the fact it’s so far removed from the boring textbook style experience they’ll get elsewhere, they probably won’t even realise they are on an educational ride of their lives.
So how do you introduce child learning through travel? Here are a few tips.
1. Give your children a travel journal.
Travel journals are FUN and they aren’t just for older kids either! Children of any age generally love to draw, write or share their own insights into their lives when given the chance to be creative. Encouraging them to use these interests while on holidays or family road trips, is an easy way to guide their interests toward fun, educational outcomes.
There are lots of great options for kids travel journals, and it doesn’t need to be an expensive process. To keep things simple, our tips for creating a travel journal for your kids are:
- Purchase a hard cover notebook from the supermarket, discount store or newsagency. An A5 size is portable and a great size to have in the car.
- Before you leave let the kiddos decorate their journal using stickers, protective contact book cover or any other way they like.
- Guide your children with the types of things to record in their journal but don’t enforce.
Ideas for travel journal content for your kids:
- Draw maps of places you visit, places you stay, even your holiday accommodation.
- Draw pictures of places, buildings, attractions, wildlife and anything else they see.
- Leave blank pages when they write about attractions or the day’s events, so they can glue photos in when they get home.
- Collect tickets, brochures and souvenirs that can be used to add texture and interest to the journal.
2. Track Your Holiday On a Map
This is a really fun thing to do with children of all ages. Get a suitable map that shows both your home and your road trip destinations. Before you leave home, place a marker on your home town/city then, depending on the age of your children, help them to plot your travels on the map, or allow them to do it.
You can either do this as a family, or give the kids a map of their own. You don’t need to buy expensive maps for this, you can simply print a map out from the internet before you leave.
After or during your trip, for older children, this gives them to opportunity to research distances between towns etc. It’s also great for them to plot departure/arrival times, stop times and locations and fuel expenses. By turning this into a fun adventurous exercise this helps your child learn a whole range of life skills and mathematical skills without it being boring and mundane.
3. Give your children a camera or video camera to use.
Wondering how using a camera can be educational. This exercise is lots of fun for children of all ages.
Digital cameras work best for this as children can see their artistic vision unfold right before their eyes, and there are no high costs associated with needing to print photos in order to see them. Recording their holiday by taking photos or capturing video of their experiences, allows your child to express their creativity, but it also assists them with language skills such as recounts (explaining something that happened or they’ve experienced in the past) as well as storytelling, art and culture.
Once you return home from your trip (or if you’re on the road long term, at any time) continue the encouragement of self-expression by allowing your child to create their own photo album. Allow them to organise and collate their images into pages in an album or scrapbook, and work closely with them to help them document their artwork with written recounts or descriptions. Alternatively, help them to create a collage using either just their photos, or photos, words, travel brochures etc.
Just Have Fun With It!
You’ve now read just a few ideas of how your family travel experiences can be educational for your child. Don’t be afraid to have fun, try different ideas and follow the lead of your child. Of course researching places, people, animals and other attractions that they have seen is a great way to broaden their knowledge and even if they don’t write it down, talking about it as a family is lots of fun and sometimes we underestimate the power of a simple conversation with our children and what they can learn from it. So if you feel that you’re time limited or your children won’t be interested in the options we’ve listed above, be sure just to talk, share and enjoy.