The following is a guest post written by Kara Anderson of The Very Next Thing.
Last year, my husband and I sat down to look at our finances and were not exactly shocked to see that we wouldn’t be heading to Spain for a family vacation.
But he had some time off available, and we wanted to spend it having a family adventure. It was around that time that his parents invited us to Wisconsin Dells — the land of wax museums, T-shirt shops and waterslides.
That sounded like a terrific get-away. But as homeschoolers, we like our vacations to offer educational opportunities too.
My husband and I often say that if we had the time and resources, we would be tourschoolers – traveling the globe as a family and learning along the way.
And so, we challenged ourselves to tourschool our way through our Wisconsin visit.
Since then, we’ve taken other family trips, and have realized that if you approach your vacation, long weekend or holiday travel with a solid plan, any trip can be both educational and fun.
The first step in any trip is to plan.
While you are looking up hotel rates and finding restaurants, look at all an area has to offer. Are there museums? Historical sites? Natural offerings like lakes or caves? Tours? Think like a teacher and a tourist and plan activities that are educational and fun.
Start gathering books and brochures. Contact the convention and visitor’s bureau where you are going and request information. Hit the library.
On a recent trip to South Dakota, we took along library books about Mount Rushmore, buffalo, prairie dogs and Native American history to read on the way there.
Search out special programs or activities for kids or specifically for homeschooling families.
National parks often offer Junior Ranger programs where kids get the chance to research and answer questions to achieve Junior Ranger status. We have gotten discounts on museum admission and even educational souvenirs by using our homeschooling ID card while travelling.
Decide what you really want to see on your trip, and keep education a priority.
That may mean choosing a scenery-packed, historical boat tour over an arcade visit, for instance. But the boat trip can be just as fun!
Learn as a family. There is nothing like immersing yourself in an experience to realize how much there is to see and learn – for the adults too.
Ask questions. Read the literature. And talk about what you are seeing together.
6. Bring it all home.
Keep the learning going when you return home. Find more library books.
Create a wall board where you post pictures, postcards and other (educational) souvenirs you picked up during your travels. Expand on what you did. Did you see bears? Hear coyotes? What are their scientific names? What do they eat? Where else do they live?
Any trip can provide educational opportunities if you take the time to seek them out. And learning together can create memories that last a lifetime.
Do you have any upcoming holiday trips that you can turn into a learning opportunity?