Family Vacation: An Opportunity for Learning and a Chance to Practice Planning Skills

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By Leigh M.

Miro Siegel and his mother, Lainie Liberti are a homeschooling inspiration to parents and kids alike. It’s impossible to watch their TEDx talk without being inspired by their adventures in unschooling, and Miro continues to inspire young people with his philosophy and study ethos. A nomadic education doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s still possible to take a leaf out of Miro and Lainie’s book and turn a family vacation into a learning opportunity. Use your next family holiday to give your teen an opportunity to take charge of their own education and practice skills they don’t get to hone in their ordinary routines.

Give Them the Reins in the Planning Process

Getting your kids involved in planning a vacation will allow them to practice some of the practical skills needed to plan a trip. If they decide to travel independently later on, this will prepare them well for the adventures ahead — and give you peace of mind, too.

Try to decide on your destination as a family. Include your teen in budgeting discussions, and discuss the appropriateness of the place for different members of the family. For example, if one of your children has allergies, you don’t want to be so far off grid that you can’t get help if needed. Coach your child into picking somewhere that at least one family member is competent enough in the language to discuss allergy concerns and medical emergencies if needed.

When your’e ready to plan your travel arrangements and accommodation, hand the reins over to your child: show them how to research and compare prices of flights, and ask them to present you with a shortlist. Remind them to check baggage allowance, airport fees and hidden costs, and get started early: the earlier you book, the bigger the savings you can make. Show them how to use price comparison websites, and let them know if you have award miles or airline credit cards to take into account.

Take the same approach with accommodation bookings. Get your child to consider what your family needs, and ask them to use comparison websites to find the cheapest options. They should keep track of the whole budget throughout the process, factoring in travel, accommodation, food and spending money while you’re away.

Encourage Them to Learn the Language

Even with a completely unfamiliar language, your child can pick up a lot before you leave. Encourage them to download a language learning app like Duolingo or Memrise or look for podcasts designed to teach language basics. Get them to think about the types of phrases your family will need, covering basics like making reservations, buying tickets and ordering food. Encourage them to practice as much as they can — you can even incorporate the new language into your regular lessons, or practice learning it with them.

Remind your child that they aren’t just learning the language for the purpose of the trip: they’re trying to develop their language skills. Once you’re away, encourage them to speak the language as much as possible. Get them to listen to native speakers and see what they can pick up. Even learning a small amount of a new language can further their education, not only in that language, but in learning other languages and understanding the relationships between them.

Exploring, Observing and Asking Questions

Simply being in an unfamiliar place is a learning opportunity. Encourage your teen to make the most of it. No matter what activities your family will be doing or what places you’ll be visiting, the world will be rich with learning opportunities. Encourage them to pay attention to the culture around them and explore the destination, observing details about the culture. Model asking questions as you travel, and get them to follow suit: this is an opportunity for active learning, and every new detail they pick up will have a positive impact on their education as a whole.

It’s easy to get on with planning a family vacation without thinking to involve your children, but the whole process can be a rich educational experience. Make planning into a learning opportunity and encourage them to soak up everything they can about their vacation destination — and have fun too, of course!

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