Before we became homeschoolers, I remember just trying my hardest to find a way to keep my kids quiet during long (and even short) family road trips.
Now just a note here, I STILL like to find ways to keep them occupied and quiet!! The major change is that as a homeschooling family, I like to try and introduce educational aspects into most areas of our lives, and travel is no different. The best part is that the kids don’t even realise they are learning and you don’t need to be a homeschooler to use these tips. Children, no matter what age can learn lots during travel and not only does it help expand their knowledge, most learning opportunities provide them with knowledge and memories they’ll cherish.
So how do you turn your Family Road Trip into an educational, yet fun adventure?
1. Give your children a travel journal.
Travel journals are FUN! This isn’t just for older kids either! Children of any age generally love to draw, write or share their own insights into their lives when given the chance to be creative, and while on holidays or family road trips, this is no different. There are lots of great options for kids travel journals, but it doesn’t need to be an expensive process. To keep things simple, our tips for creating a travel journal for your kids are:
- Purchase a hard cover notebook from the supermarket, discount store or newsagency. An A5 size is portable and a great size to have in the car.
- Before you leave let the kiddos decorate their journal using stickers, protective contact book cover or any other way they like.
- Guide your children with the types of things to record in their journal but don’t “enforce”.
Ideas for travel journal content for your kids:
- Draw maps of places you visit, places you stay, even your holiday accomodation.
- Draw pictures of places, buildings, attractions, wildlife and anything else they see.
- Leave blank pages when they write about attractions etc so they can glue photos in when they get home.
- Collect travel brochures and glue them in.
- For older kids: Keep a daily journal of what they experience each day
- Track Kilometres travelled each day along with times, fuel costs etc.
- Anything else that may be of interest to your child depending on their age.
- Pack a “journal kit” for the kids to use including scissors, pencils, glue etc
2. Track your travels on a map.
This is a really fun thing to do with children of all ages. Get a suitable map that shows both your home and your road trip destinations. Before you leave home, place a marker on your home town/city then, depending on the age of your children, help them to plot your travels on the map, or allow them to do it.
You can either do this as a family, or give the kids a map of their own. You don’t need to buy expensive maps for this, you can simply print a map out from the internet before you leave.
After or during your trip, for older children, this gives them to opportunity to research distances between towns etc. It’s also great for them to plot departure/arrival times, stop times and locations and fuel expenses. By turning this into a fun adventurous exercise this helps your child learn a whole range of life skills and mathematical skills without it being boring and mundane.
3. Give your children a camera or video camera to use.
Wondering how using a camera can be educational? This exercise is lots of fun for children of all ages.
Digital cameras work best of course (Not sure there are many people who use film cameras these days?). Not only does taking photos or videos allow your child to express their creativity, but it also assists them with language skills such as recounts (explaining something that’s happened or they’ve experienced in the past) as well as story telling, art and culture. Once you return home from your trip (or if you’re on the road long term, at any time) allow your child to create their own photo album, work with them to develop descriptions for each of their photos, or alternatively help them to create a collage using either just their photos, or photos, words, travel brochures etc to celebrate their journey.
This is only a few ideas of how your family travel experiences can be educational for your child. Of course researching places, people, animals etc that they have seen is a great way to broaden their knowledge and even if they don’t write it down, talking about it as a family is lots of fun and sometimes we underestimate the power of a simple conversation with our children and what they can learn from it.
Loreena Walsh is a small business owner, blogger, wife to Matt and Mum to Jackson (almost 9), Amahli (almost 7) and Byron (almost 5). Loreena homeschools her children and together they spend a lot of time travelling across Australia. Loreena’s blog www.littleaussietravellers.com.au is her way of not only recording our past travels, planning and sharing our future travels but also inspiring other families to get out and explore this amazing country with their children. You can also follow Little Aussie Travellers on facebook or twitter.