Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and founder of Steady Mom
Summer is almost officially here, and undoubtedly many of you are in the planning stages for a family vacation. Whether you’re heading into the woods for a week of camping, venturing to the seaside, or boarding a plane to another country, we all know that as homeschooling families we never take a complete break from learning.
Of course your educational route may be a little less formal now than during other times of the year, which is as it should be. That’s why it’s good to brainstorm and come up with some gentle, organic ways to continue learning no matter where your journey takes you.
Consider these four possibilities as you vacation this summer.
If you’ll be driving cross-country with slightly older children (beyond the preschool stage), then you can’t go wrong with listening to a good book together. We’ll gear up in late summer for a 12 hour drive down south, and you better believe that I’m already creating a list of audiobooks to keep us busy as we spend time on the Interstate.
Here’s a list of titles good for younger listeners:
- Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner
- Amelia Bedelia Audio Collection
- The Frances Audio Collection
- Frog and Toad
- Tales from My Father’s Dragon
- The Boxcar Children
- James Herriot’s Treasury for Children
- Little House on the Prairie series
- Tales of Beatrix Potter
- A Bear Called Paddington
And consider these options for older children:
- The Chronicles of Narnia
- The Lord of the Rings
- The Call of the Wild
- The Black Stallion
- Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
- Peter Pan
- The Secret Garden
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
- Pippi Longstocking
- The Wizard of Oz
- Aesop’s Fables
- Anne of Green Gables
Also check out this post, by Simple Homeschool contributor Renee Tougas, which gives a helpful overview to the use of audiobooks in family life.
If your destination includes any museums or historical landmarks, postcards can be a natural way to combine history with handwriting for your children.
The search for a particular card can be fun in and of itself. Grandparents and other relatives or friends love to be on the receiving end as your child describes his adventures.
Photo by Jess Sloss
Add to the anticipation of your upcoming trip by purchasing (or creating your own) travel journals. Make sure every member of the family has one–this gives it less of a “school” appearance and more of a casual family activity.
At the end of each vacation day (maybe after dinner), the whole family can sit together and work in their journals for a few minutes. Younger children can draw while older children write about their favorite memory from the day’s events.
In our family every person has what we call a “learning scrapbook,” a binder in which we collect the items that chronicle all we’ve been learning throughout the year. After returning from a trip, it’s fun for kids to get out their art supplies and add a page (or multiple pages) to their learning book. Include items like postcards, train tickets, brochures from museums, photos, or menus–whatever makes your kids feel happy!
You can also have a family scrapbook that everyone contributes to together. Contributor Stefani Austin recently described her family’s lovely idea of creating a scrapbook while spending time at the beach.
No matter where you head this season, keep your eyes and ears out for organic educational opportunities. These learning sparks flicker constantly if we remain on the lookout, and it only takes a moment to gently fan them into a meaningful flame.
How do you integrate natural learning with your family vacations?