Make Learning Fun and Memorable

Here's a post from Fodor's forum in a discussion about whether or not to take kids out of school so the family could travel. It's from a year ago and when I read it, I was very impressed with the author's system. I just stumbled accross it again the other day, so here it is:

Author: escargotDate: 01/24/2007, 05:20 pm

We are the parents who always pulled our kids out of school if need be - esp at earlier ages - and when they were your kids ages, here is what I would do: Most of my kids teachers gave them some sort of an assignment and/or some work sheets to do with no problem and were thrilled they were going to visit somewhere new and have some different educational experiences. Just my experience, I know not everyone's.

Each child had a notebook that was their trip journal. If they couldn't write - or write much - they wrote a sentence or two or did it with photos, cut outs from travel guides, ticket stubs, pictures they drew and they would often leave spaces for a photo they would have developed later - I used to give them each a disposable camera so they could also take photos of favorite things.

When they were younger, I took the time to make them a "Find Me" book as I called it. I would make a separate notebook with things we would see along our travel, depending on where we were headed, this booklet might include monuments, museums, a famous painting, a Paris street lamp or bridge, a famous street sign or boulevard, double decker bus, whatever. Even key phrases in another language - like a simple hello, welcome, goodbye, etc - so they had to look and listen for things.

The kids would carry the Find Me book along with them and keep an eye out for these things and check them off when they found them. It became sort of a fun competition but kept their eyes and ears open and aware of their surroundings. No matter their age, each child would get to choose one thing we would absolutely do in each location (younger ones needing my help to choose). This is how we ended up taking a tour of the sewers and the entire underground 'world' under Paris ! Yup, an 8 yr old boy picked that one; my daughter was more apt to choose a store, cafe that served the best hot chocolate, or in later years an opera house or ballet to go to.

Also, if there are any books for their age about where you are going, reading those beforehand is always fun, as is renting a movie filmed there, or simply showing them some art books or history books with photos of some things you might see. My kids were always excited when in later years they studied many of the things we would have seen and places they actually walked - living history so to speak.

Nothing like family and travel, for us anyway.

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