Why Traveling Helps Your Child’s Education

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For my husband and I it was never a question of ‘would we travel with our children?' it was “How do we travel with our kids but not make it all about them?”  I believe we hit a nice balance in our travels.  As I told Irish Fireside when they interviewed me, we split activities between things my husband and I enjoy and activities specifically geared toward the girls.  If we spend the morning touring castles we may spend the afternoon at an animal farm or nearby park.

In the past few months conversations have churned through the online travel world.  Two distinct sides: for and against travel with children.  I, of course, fall on the “for” side.  Arguments on the “against” side include statements like, “Your kids won't remember it” and “Kids don't learn anything when they are that young”.  While I've always disagreed with those statements, they were personal opinions.  But today I have proof.

Today I sat down with Brenna's first grade teacher.  We had a terrific conversation and a few key points really made an impact on me and helped me realize that traveling with our kids is one of the best decisions we have made.

At the top of Bunratty Castle
Brenna at the top of Bunratty Castle

Travel Expands Conversation

Brenna is 7 and has been traveling since 3 months of age.  She has seen and experienced many things- Irish castles, the Alamo, original log cabins on the plains, cattle drives, Mariachi wandering through restaurants, pilgrims and Indians at Plymouth, the Freedom Trail, and interactions with people of practically every race and color you can imagine.

According to her teacher this helps during “story and discussion time” as Brenna is able to more fully understand things that may be mentioned in stories.  She has been in a castle, seen a real cowboy, stood in a log cabin, talked with Native Americans, had dinner with people from Africa, flown on a plane…  So when the discussion happens she has an understanding many of her classmates don't have.  She is able to speak of experiences and share her thoughts in a mature way, beyond her 7 years.

Dining al Fresca at Joe T Garcia's in Fort Worth
Dining al Fresca at Joe T Garcia's in Fort Worth

Travel Expands Comprehension

Reading comprehension is a strong focus in Brenna's first grade classroom.  Because of our family's travels Brenna is more easily able to understand the feelings of riding in an airplane, entering a musty cabin or cave, touching sea creatures or eating in a fancy restaurant.  She doesn't have to imagine or have it explained, she understands because she has lived it.

Irish Faerie Tales
Caelan Shares Her Irish Faerie Tales

Travel Expands Imagination

Writing and story telling are also important in Brenna's class.  According to her teacher, Brenna is more fully able to get her ideas across in her writing.  And because of her travels her writing has more depth and description.  Instead of a castle wall being big, her castle walls are “three feet thick and cold when you touch them”.  Animals in her stories have actions like sheep pulling weeds from her hands.  And leaves on trees wave goodbye.

I see this with Caelan, too.  Her journals from preschool are filled with bits of travel memories mixed with the story she is telling.

Financial peace Plaza, Nashville, TN
With Martha Thompson at Financial Peace Plaza, Nashville, TN

Travel Improves Manners

My girls can be absolutely awful at home.  But take them out in public and they are well behaved and polite.  So much so that people will often come up to us in restaurants or events just to tell us how good they are.  Brenna's teacher concurs, telling me that Brenna is thoughtful of others, helpful and polite.  While I know such things begin at home I am also aware that putting my girls in situations that don't happen every day- riding an airplane or touring museums, for example- make them more aware of people around them and appropriate actions.  We make sure to share every bit of praise with them; positive reinforcement yields even better behavior!

I want to stress that while this site focuses on family travel to Ireland, travel doesn't have to be far away or expensive to positively affect your children.  Just taking your kids to nearby museums, galleries, farms and historic sites can yield the same results.  It's the experience that causes growth- not the amount of miles you travel.

I would love to hear your thoughts.  Do you or would you travel with your kids?  Do you think it helps their education?  Or is travel with children wasted in your eyes?

21 COMMENTS

  1. […] say. No matter that my child was at the head of her classes. No matter that the travel experiences broadened her ability to learn, to understand, to be more creative and to contribute. Because it’s all about the numbers. If a child misses more than X number of days, the state […]

    I love this post, Jodi. I can see how much travel has impacted my own children especially now that they are older teens/young adults.  My husband always did travel with our kids and one of the reasons we chose to homeschool them was because we wanted to travel with them as often as we could. We spent months in the historic triangle of Virginia one year with my husband’s job, exploring all the historic sites. When we returned home, we began to read a book on American history as a family read aloud. My kids would not let a day pass without reading that book. They were enthralled because we had been to nearly every historic site the book mentioned. They still talk about “our best homeschool year.” I know it was so enjoyable because the tie-in with our travels.

    […] 6) Young Minds Absorb So Much. While I have nothing against amusement parks or all inclusive resorts I think it is a shame the author determined that those are the only “kids friendly” travel choices.  Sure, it takes more work and slows you down.  But what your family gains as you slow down and experience your travels is priceless- and it just might improve your child’s education. […]

    […] 6) Young Minds Absorb So Much. While I have nothing against amusement parks or all inclusive resorts I think it is a shame the author determined that those are the only “kids friendly” travel choices.  Sure, it takes more work and slows you down.  But what your family gains as you slow down and experience your travels is priceless- and it just might improve your child’s education. […]

    @livinontheroad can’t wait to read, I’m always wondering if it’s good or bad for them

      @family_inavan @TravelOutbackOz I’m sure it’s great for them. Best education around!

        @livinontheroad does your clan love it

          @family_inavan Yeah. They think it’s fantastic. 9 and 10yos say they are going to travel for life. They don’t remember any other lifestyle

          @family_inavan thank you. I’m sure your boys will live it too. How long are you traveling for?

          @livinontheroad until feb then we will stop and work . I don’t think our travels will ever stop.

          @family_inavan we just stop I work as we travel. We’ll do 6 weeks on the eyre peninsula over dec, then keep going

        @livinontheroad My parents took us travelling all round Oz when we were young. Best education ever. Set my brother and me up for life.

          @TravelOutbackOz that is good to hear. How long did you travel for? What did you find hard about it as a kid?

    What a great testimony for traveling with kids. These experiences have an impact that can’t be explained by a photograph. This shows how much this affects them deeply, in ways that are hard to measure or even understand in the development of kids. Great to hear a testimony of travel with kids!

    too true, ALL of it. parents should know that learning can take place at ANY age – and that raising world travelers is a gift!

    @ArrowsSentForth Because you can put educational DVDs in the minivan’s DVD player?

    Great article. I love traveling with my kids too – even with the aches and pains of trying to get to our location.

    Great article. I love traveling with my kids too – even with the aches and pains of trying to get to our location.

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