Take your baby with you when you head to New York City. Grab your kids out of school for a week to explore ancient castle ruins in Scotland. Wander through lava tubes and past waterfalls with your toddler on Hawaii. You’ve heard people telling you this, but really, what is the point? Your kids aren’t old enough to remember anything, or if they are old enough, they sure won’t appreciate it. Well, you are wrong.
Before I had kids I probably would have said the same things. Why in the world would you bring a toddler through lava tubes? He would just freak out… wouldn’t he? Nope. Kids are smarter than anyone will ever give them credit for (OK, maybe J.K. Rowling knows because she never talked down to kids in her books).
Kids absorb so much at home. Just watch as they mimic your words, good and bad, your mannerisms and adapt to the things around them. The same happens when a child travels, except now you are actively teaching them and showing them the things they have only read about in stories, or possibly could never imagine.
Classroom comes to life
Nothing is more boring than sitting in a classroom and reading a history book for nine months out of the year. Snore! Even college students studying art can’t absorb everything in an art history textbook. Put them in front of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy and I guarantee you that they will remember that painting for life, just like I did. Take a grade school student on a road trip and suddenly maps and geography spring to life. Make them navigate for a while, so they can put all of those hours in the classroom into practice. Tell your kids to convert your U.S. dollars into whatever currency of the country you are traveling through to help them learn some practical math. No apps on the iPhone allowed either.
When I brought my son to Hawaii, the Big Island, when he was just over two years old, I had no idea what I would be bringing home with me. Here was a child who loved to talk, but since he was only two, he had a limited vocabulary, like most kids his age. He came home saying things like "volcano" and "lizard" and "waterfall," not because he read about them in a book, but because he walked right up to them, touched them (not the volcano!) and entered them into his toddler database of things in his world. Children pick up on other languages faster than their parents, even more so if they are studying that language in school. There is no end to the words a child can learn, but if they never associate their new words with something practical, those words just might not stick.
When children travel with their parents they learn that family comes first. They won’t see mom and dad stressed out about work. They won’t be ignored when they ask for help with their homework because some crisis in the PTA popped up. This is family time, and if a parent is wise, they will take advantage of it. Put the electronics away for a few hours, hit the beach, climb a mountain, talk to your kids. They won’t want to share their lives with you much longer. Take advantage while you can.
Where have you traveled with your kids?
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