By Melissa Droegemueller of Rolling Prairie Readers
When I say family travel, you might think of exotic or expensive destinations, logistical headaches, and cranky kids. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Simple family adventures can be fun and educational!
You wake up to find an absolutely blank day on the calendar. No classes, lessons, or extracurriculars on the agenda–can you believe it?
Instead of playing the “what should we do today” game with everyone in the family, this scenario plays out instead: “We’re going on an adventure!” you say to your kids, and they run to grab the adventure backpack and their water bottles.
As Bethany says, “learning happens all the time,” both in the classroom and outside of it. Our children can discover a lot about the world through travel and fun, family experiences.
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Why Your Homeschool Needs More Family Adventures
All children need “real-world” learning.
Travel allows our kids to touch and see the world in new and unique ways. They can experience different cultures, different landscapes, and different languages — usually without going very far from home! Some family adventures even allow our children to go back in time, bringing history alive. Along the way, you can introduce your children to important life skills like budgeting, map-reading, calculating fuel mileage, and more.
(If you need an idea to get started, check out this blog post about learning activities you can try when you go apple-picking.)
Family adventures are a bonding experience.
While road trips with our kids are hardly relaxing, they are often good for lots of laughs and new memories. We get to leave chores and distractions behind for a while and focus on family relationships. Traveling together gives us shared stories and a unique family culture that is worth celebrating.
Children need to see adults learning, too.
We all want to raise children who are passionate about learning their entire lives. We can model what that looks like for our kids when we experience new things together. When we travel as a family, we discover new interests and learn more about ourselves, too.
Travel is a fun way to learn!
When our children are young, hands-on learning comes easy: sensory play, building with blocks, and using manipulatives in math lessons. As our children reach elementary and middle school age, their opportunities for hands-on learning are replaced with more abstract lessons and higher-order thinking.
Learning through travel and family experiences is one way that we can continue to reach our tactile and kinesthetic learners. Many museums are set-up with multi-sensory exhibits for children young and old to explore–but there are lots of other great destinations, as well.
Some of our family’s favorite experiences have been:
- American Gothic House in Eldon, Iowa
- Ingalls Homestead in De Smet, South Dakota
- Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Headquarters and Visitor Center in Omaha, Nebraska
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Here are some tips for getting started with family adventures:
Get on email lists for your library, parks department, college music departments, and county historical societies. Many of these facilities have regular events that are free and open to the public. We have toured a dam, attended a zookeeper’s presentation, learned more about steel pan drums, and visited a working flour mill–all for free and close to home.
Be spontaneous and open to detours.
When you go on road trips with your family, leave a little margin in your travel time. Keep an eye out for road signs and interesting sights out the window. You never know what’s waiting for you on the side of the road!
Try something new together, like geocaching.
We have recently started geocaching, and it’s one of the cheapest, easiest family adventures around. Download an app for instant access to caches all across your neighborhood, city, or county. Children of all ages can help search for the hidden treasure, sign the log, and exchange little trinkets. Best of all, geocaching can take you to interesting, historical, and educational places you would never have gone otherwise.
Follow up with research and memory-keeping.
Lots of places we visit have small little souvenir shops, so we usually buy a book or two to bring home with us. We also like to use our experiences to inspire a trip to the public library. Most recently, we’ve started a notebook for our family adventures, which is another way to extend the fun and learning together.
Are you ready to add more travel and family experiences to your homeschool this fall? I would love to hear which of these tips or ideas you’re excited to try first!
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