Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom
Something exciting is happening in our family tomorrow. We leave on a trip we’ve been planning for years –a month in England.
Why England? Well, my husband Steve is British. All of his family (my children’s grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles) still live there. Before having kids we visited frequently, and we took our firstborn, Jonathan, when he was nine months old to meet the British side of the family.
We’ve always had a dream to travel the world with our children. But then one child turned into two, and two turned into three. The idea of journeys overseas with toddlers and preschoolers in tow didn’t appeal to me, so we decided to wait until everyone grew up a bit to venture across the ocean together.
With my youngest having just turned seven, that time of life (that once seemed as if it would never arrive) is suddenly upon us! As a homeschooling family, we thank our lucky stars that we can nip off in the middle of the “school” year to let our kids encounter some real-life learning.
Here’s what we’ve been doing to prepare and make the most of our learning during the trip ahead. You could of course apply the same principles to anywhere you may be visiting or to just create a unit study about an area of interest.
1. We read British authors.
We’ll be staying in Yorkshire–the area where James Herriot worked as a vet. We plan to head to the Lake District to see the World of Beatrix Potter. (We hope to take a peek at her home Hill Top Farm as well.)
And we’ll be on our guard as we pass through Sherwood Forest and Nottingham. (Jonathan has already decided that if we get stopped by Robin or his band we can simply explain that we already give to charity, so they don’t need to rob us.)
We’re also taking some traditional British read-alouds with us: Winnie-the-Pooh, A Bear Called Paddington, and The Wind in the Willows. To say that (as a former literature major) I’m excited about this trip would be an understatement!
2. We took a trip to the library.
I combed our library’s shelves for nonfiction books about the British Isles. Upon checkout, the librarian asked if these books were for a school project and report. She seemed surprised that the books were actually for our own personal interest and travels.
We’ve learned a lot about the queen and other British basics from these titles.
3. We marked our destination.
We have a world map that hangs in our dining room. On it we’ve marked out our route–from Connecticut to England.
Also on the map we noted Italy, where Steve and I are heading for four days while the kids stay with their grandparents. (Yes, we’re thrilled!)
4. We had a family video night.
It isn’t always easy to find family-friendly travel documentaries.
Two that we really enjoyed are The Little Travelers: British Isles (this entire series is fabulous!) and Discovering England, which was divided by regions. We watched the segments relating to the areas where we’ll be visiting.
5. We’ve encouraged journaling.
I wanted to inspire the children to write while we’re away, so I set off on the hunt for the perfect kid-friendly travel journal. I think I found it!
I love this journal, which has space for more than a month’s entries–short sections to write what we did that day, and even what we ate (a fact that my kids always seem to be interested in recalling!).
My hope is that we’ll take a few minutes to work on these at the end of our days. They will make a special memory keepsake after our trip ends. We’ve already completed the sections at the beginning–about where we’re going and what we’ve learned about the country.
Now there’s only one thing left to do: Go!
Well, that, and about 100 other things on my to-do list for today. Like pack, for example. So I guess I better get back to that!
I will be blogging while we’re away, as it’s just too good of an opportunity not to share! Anything you’d like to read about? If you could take your family away for a month, what country would be your destination?