by LAURA CZERWINSKI
The summer isn’t the only time for family vacations and trips! With the holidays approaching, there are many families who will be gearing up to hit the road to visit loved ones and maybe hit some other hotspots along the way!
One of the benefits of schooling at home is that you don’t have to be tied into specific dates when you want to travel. This can help with avoiding traffic, crowds and maybe even getting a better value for hotel stays.
While some families can look at this as a way to take a total break from schooling, there is an opportunity to work in some learning as a part of your journey. Here are a few ideas to get you started! (Side note: these strategies can also work for any family taking a trip – not just those who school at home.)
- Have your kids locate your destination on a map. Yes, I know it is likely that your family will be using an app on your phone or in your car for navigation, but this is a golden opportunity for kids to explore a map to get a great understanding of where they are going vs. where they live. Older students can make a list of driving directions. Ask them to include suggestions on which areas might be good to stop for a break for a meal or if you are going to pass any specific places of interest.
- Do you anticipate tolls on the trip? It’s true that many toll booths are cashless these days, but you can still encourage your kids to round up some change and organize it by denomination so that they are ready to assist if you suddenly need quick cash! You can also ask them to keep track of what each cashless toll is so you know what to expect when your EZ Pass (or other) bill comes in the mail. Offer a fun prize for whoever comes closest to the actual amount.
- Encourage your kids to make a schedule for the trip to help with time management. When are you leaving? Do you expect to encounter traffic or other delays? What time will you stop for lunch or dinner? What are the planned activities for each day? This is also a great opportunity to help them learn about shifting things around in case things don’t go as planned when you are on your way.
- Have your kids make a list of things they need to pack. They can use the schedule they created in step three of all the planned activities to understand what they will need. Pants or shorts? Or both? How many nights will they be staying away? Are bathing suits in order? They should also include a list of other things like chargers, books, extra blankets, postcards they can fill out to send to friends about their trip, etc.
- While a parent is, of course, ultimately responsible for making sure vehicles are ready to go, it’s really also a great life- lesson to share with your kids. There’s no need to wait for them to start a driver’s education course to learn the importance of checking over your car to make sure everything is in order before a road trip. Lead by example and go over a checklist of things that should be checked over for safety like tire pressure, oil and overall health of your vehicle. It might be fun to task your young learners on getting the car clean and getting their own ‘space’ in the car ready for a safe, comfy ride! On this note, it’s never a bad idea to review with kids how to react in the (hopefully unlikely) event of an accident.
- When you return home, have kids help unpack the car. They can sort clothes to get ready for laundry, bring in leftover snacks and put whatever they took along for fun back in its rightful place. This step might also include cleaning up the car from any crumbs, papers, spills etc.
- When you are settled, ask each child to write about their experiences. What was their favorite part? Would they want to visit again? Were there any new landscapes they saw along the way? (Mountains, lakes etc.) An alternative idea would be to have them make a collage of pictures that they cut from magazines or draw themselves that reflects these sentiments.
Having everyone in the car for hours on end may certainly make those traveling days seem long, but in a few very short years, they just may be some of your favorite memories! Involving your kids in the process can make it even more memorable for them!