You’ve scoured all the websites about your vacation destination, and you’ve read travel blogs. You know the best time to travel to island destinations is either January to April when the weather is less humid or November to December when resorts aren’t as crowded.
The problem with those times is that unless you travel during the holiday break, you will need to pull the kids out of school to take advantage of the ideal travel conditions.
Do you face the wrath of your daughter’s kindergarten teacher as she shakes her head in judgment when you pull your child out of school or do you go on vacation when the weather is hot, and the rates are high?
The reality is that you need to do what is best for your family. Your kids are only young once, and if the best time to travel with your kids is during the school year, then so be it.
To ease some of your guilt from pulling your kids out of school, here are five ways you can help your child learn while on vacation.
Get homework ahead of time
Don’t wait until your child returns from vacation to try to catch up on homework. Your child will probably be groggy for several days after returning, so that is not the ideal time to complete missing assignments. Give your child’s teacher plenty of notice, and then ask them to provide the work before you leave on the trip.
Have your child get as much done before you travel. Use some of the travel time to complete assignments. Your child’s teacher will be less judgmental that you pulled your child out of school if he or she arrives back to school with perfectly-completed assignments. It also wouldn’t hurt to bring the teacher back a souvenir.
Read about the destination
Going to Jamaica? Make sure your child learns how to spell the name of the country. Look up the name of the capital city (which is Kingston, by the way), and read about the form of government.
Learn about the history of the island nation and why there is a substantial British influence on architecture and language. Listen to reggae music and learn about Bob Marley.
Chances are that at some point during their school career, your child will learn about Jamaica during a geography class. While many children may learn the facts about the island nation long enough to do well on a test, your children will know and understand the culture because they experienced it.
Pay attention to nature
Our bio-diverse world is ready for exploring. While on vacation, your children will encounter insects, fish, birds, reptiles, trees, or flowers they have never seen before. Whether your child is fascinated with the slow-moving sea turtles of Turks and Caicos or the manatees of Jamaica, encourage your child to learn about whatever interests him or her.
You may have a marine biologist in the making or an ecologist who specializes in plants of the Caribbean. Let your child’s interests lead the way. Don’t try to force your interests on your child.
Teach your child how to travel
Your main goal in raising your children is to teach them to be fully-functioning adults. Part of being an adult is learning how to move through our world.
Teach your children about the process of travel. Show them how to check into flights and what is appropriate to pack in a carry-on bag.
Talk about travel etiquette, including appropriate behavior while in an airport and on an airplane. For the love of God, please teach them not to kick the back of an airline seat. Show them who to tip and how to do it.
Most importantly, teach them how to be aware of their surroundings while traveling. Talk to them about personal safety and how to keep their possessions secure. Show them how to use Ubers responsibly.
Teach your children to appreciate other cultures
The best thing that travel does for children is that it opens their eyes to how people live in other parts of the world. As you travel through the country to your destination, make sure your children pay attention to their surroundings along the way. Look at the markets, places or worship, and schools. Talk about the similarities and differences between how people live in this region compared with how you live at home.
Encourage your children to eat local foods. Your child has had enough macaroni and cheese and chicken strips. It’s time for them to try something else.
Don’t feel guilty for pulling your child out of the school for a week to travel. The world is the best classroom your child will every visit.