When you hear the word “vacation” many imagines come to mind: beaches, fine dining, airplanes, boats, etc. Is learning something that comes to mind when vacation is mentioned? Learning happens all the time, but vacations offer unique learning opportunities. Children are in a new environment, interacting with different people everyday. Vacations are the perfect place for learning.
Depending on how you travel on your vacations, geography and modes of transportation are good themes on vacation. We usually travel by car, my son, loves to read all the licences plates looking for different states he always wonders how far people are traveling. He also asks about all the cities and landmarks we pass. Great learning opportunities if you have the time to talk about them in detail along the way. When we have traveled by plane we have discussed more United States geography and spend time talking about time zones and distances.
I feel better learning happens at your destination. Weather and Climate are natural topics to discuss with children on vacation, especially if you are traveling to a different climate region. Cultures can be a topic on vacation if you are traveling to a region with different cultural climate than where you live. Last year we traveled from Michigan to San Diego and our children loved learning about the region so different from their own. For those of us that are daring, we can also expose our children to awesome new culinary choices. Most vacationers dine out, make bold choices that are different than ones you would make at home.
Of course many vacations are educational by nature, whether you are traveling to Mackinaw Island, Sleeping Bear Dunes or Tahquanmenon Falls (All great spots in Michigan) the purpose is to learn about the location. My children know that trips like these are fun and for learning. They have loved our trips to all of them. Learning about the history of Mackinaw Island or how the falls and dunes formed.
Often on vacation learning can be unintentional. Children learn about SPF for sunscreen and the value of good Aloe Vera lotion if they stay out in the sun to long. Just today by children learned the value of a bowline knot for tubing and how to be a “Good Samaritan” as we helped out a distressed sailboat. Earlier in the week they learned how to bait a hook and catch a fish. This of course lead to me teaching a hands-on lesson on gutting and skinning the fish and later cooking it.
Just remember that the learning happens everywhere. The best learning is hands-on and vacations lead to great new learning experiences, not just for relaxing. (Although that is a good use for vacations too!!)