Every parent knows that children almost always learn best through experience. Time spent in the classroom is, of course, essential but getting out in the world can be even more educational. I’m speaking as the parent of a child who was well traveled and who grew up to make a career out of teaching grade school children.
Vacations not only give you a chance to relax and bond with your kids, but they also provide an opportunity for your children to learn valuable life skills and lessons that will serve them well for years to come. Exposing them to more world experiences will help them develop into a more well-rounded and compassionate adult.
Opportunities for growth and development can happen on any vacation. You don’t have to travel across the globe for those precious “teachable moments.” Learning opportunities can arise just as easily on a long weekend getaway close to home as they do on an international trip with unique cultural experiences.
Here are some of the top life lessons your children are likely to learn through travel…
It’s no surprise that the attitude you set out with can determine the success of your day, but when we are at home mired in the routine and frustrations of work and home life, it’s easy to “wake up on the wrong side of the bed.” When we are on vacation, we’re more relaxed and open to new experience. We’re more likely to find the humor in everyday situations and approach any unexpected challenges with a “glass half full” attitude.
Children learn from example no matter how old they are. Seeing their parents more relaxed and enjoying themselves encourages them to do the same. “Vacation Mom” is usually a lot more easy-going than “home Mom.” And “Vacation Dad” is often easier to connect with than “routine Dad.”
From the line at security in the airport to waiting your turn in the line at the amusement park… or sitting patiently through the safety talk before hopping on a Segway to go zipping through the streets of Washington DC, travel requires patience. There’s no way around it. Our children are used to instant gratification. Want to watch your favorite TV show? Between NetFlix and Hulu, I bet you can find multiple seasons available for your viewing pleasure at a moment’s notice. While they may not be very good at waiting at home, you’ll be surprised at how different things can be when they are outside of their typical environment! And if their patience is not on display, a vacation is a great time to practice.
Things don’t always go as planned and nowhere is that more evident than when you are away from home without all of your common resources at your fingertips! But sometimes the best and most memorable experiences are the ones we didn’t plan for.
I’ll never forget hearing from a family who had planned their trip to London and Paris with their older teen sons for two years only to have their 17-year-old break a bone in his foot stepping off of a curb “wrong.” They were on a guided tour with Adventures by Disney and were to spend the next day bicycling on the grounds of Versailles and, of course, he couldn’t participate. One of the guides spent the day with him in the gardens, and it turned out to be the most memorable day of his vacation. The guide became his “wingman” and spent the afternoon getting pretty French girls to pose for photos with him. Photos he thoroughly enjoyed sending to his buddies back home! He learned lots of French phrases and rather than an afternoon of boredom, he thoroughly enjoyed a day full of laughter.
I love hearing about these lessons when my clients return from their travels! One of my favorite stories was hearing a mother say her kids had spent the first few days of vacation complaining about poor wifi signals and small hotel rooms. By the end of the trip, they’d seen families in the Andes Mountains washing their clothes in a cold water stream, homes for large families with only a couple of rooms, kids who have never held an iPad or played Minecraft. Children can gain a new appreciation for the conveniences they have the benefit of and the things that are truly important in life.
Appreciation of Diversity
It’s easy for our kids to assume that everyone looks, thinks, talks and acts just like they do. Through your families travels they will encounter kids who spend their afternoons playing the same playground games, but all while speaking another language. Or that the kid who has never held an iPad find the same goofy faces just as hysterical as they do.
They come to see that despite our differences, there are plenty of commonalities that bind us together. Opening their eyes to the beauty and benefits of diversity and different views will serve to make them more curious and adventurous. Don’t be surprised when they end up craving more of these new experiences!
Traveling with your kids is not always easy… especially the more significant, longer, more involved trips. But getting outside of your comfort zone and experiencing the world with your kids is one of the best gifts you can give them. Not only will they appreciate the memories and the connections made during time spent with you, but they will also be better equipped with qualities that make them well-rounded, compassionate, and resilient adults.
And after all, isn’t that every parent’s #1 goal for their kids?
Let’s plan an amazing vacation for your family. You can reach me at [email protected] or 607-330-1531 or request a personalized consultation appointment by clicking here.