You can probably tell but we are pretty keen on travelling with our kids. That’s not to say it’s always sunshine, and rainbows. It can be HARD!
One of the biggest stresses for us and many other parents comes down to schooling. Deciding to take a gap year with your kids, or an extended travel period is a big leap into the unknown. With a huge amount of planning comes fears and worries, especially when it comes to our kids and their development. A question we often here ‘is it worth it?’, when the idea of planning just begins to feel overwhelming. From packing lists, flights, accommodation, health concerns, insurance…the list goes on.
But it doesn’t have to feel like that.
You will find loads of resources here to help you navigate your way through the planning stages of your gap year or travels with your kids but this post is going to concentrate on the education.
If your kids have been in a conventional/traditional school, the sudden change can feel massive. But putting aside the traditional subjects, have you considered the other ‘lessons’ and skills kids can develop from travelling?
So, just to put your mind at ease, let me tell you about some of the benefits of travelling with kids and the ‘education’ they receive.
Life Lesson 1: Resilience and problem solving
We all know that things can go wrong in life, and our kids get to experience that first hand. Like the time we didn’t check what time the last bus back to our hotel was in Hvar, and we missed it. Our options were limited, instead of a $5 bus, we had the choice of a $60 hotel or a $50 taxi ride, neither of which was particularly great. We decided to speak with local taxi drivers, explain our situation and attempted to negotiate with them to lower the price. Eventually, we were on our way in a $40 taxi.
We were in a situation that could have been avoided but we made a mistake, we picked ourselves up and worked out our options. It’s key that kids understand that mistakes happen to everyone, we learn from them and move forward.
Life Lesson 2: Negotiation
After 8 months of travelling our kids have become excellent negotiators. Haggling is a way of life here and the sooner you get involved, the better. Our kids understand the art of bargaining, sometimes we have some mathematical slips ups (don’t we all with so many 000’s) but they are beginning to understand value and worth. They work on communication skills- always smiling and enjoying the process. They are beginning to understand a fair price considering the workmanship which goes into something. This process has become even more valuable as they are spending their own money which they earn weekly. Much more thought is put into a purchase knowing it’s comes out of their piggy bank!
Life lesson 3: Understanding where we have come from
Our girls are massive fans of Greeking Out podcast by Nat Geo.
We planned a month in Greece to bring these stories to life, you can read about it here.
We held our own mini Olympics in Olympia, we walked through the Acropolis searching for Athena’s Olive tree and we heard our voices bounce around the Ancient Theater in Epidaurus.
Each of these activities enhanced our learning and understanding of a time.
Spending a month in Egypt and experiencing the mind blowing history at every corner inspired the kids to try mummification (no animals or people were hurt in this experiment!), create their own hieroglyphics and make papyrus paper. Bringing textbooks to life inspires learning!
Life Lesson 4: Respect and tolerance
We want to raise global citizens. With tolerance and respect for others regardless of differences. With travel comes exposure, both positive and negative, to different cultures and ways of life. Difficult but vital discussions are had. We talk about the village of weavers where all girls will stay home and weave from age 10-100 and consider the importance of opportunity: we discuss plastic pollution when we see kids throw cups into the rice fields and how important education is and seeking out alternatives and we talk about poverty and the complications. Just to be clear, these are huge conversations so we introduce these ideas in an age-appropriate way.
Want to make a difference? Our kids are given small amounts of money to use as microloans to help underserved communities thrive. Check it out here
Life lesson 5: Developing empathy
Understanding and appreciating a different perspective is so important for widening and understanding the world around us.
- It helps them to build a sense of security and stronger relationships
- It encourages tolerance and acceptance of others
- It promotes good mental health
- It promotes social harmony
And these benefits continue into adulthood too.
Life lesson 6: Adapting to different situations
This is a big lesson to learn. Travelling will continuously expose your kids to new situations. From the patience of an airport line, to the seriousness of passport control and bag checks to moving from the tropics of Asia to the winters of Europe, kids need to be able to adapt! Adaptability may take a little getting used to but it will make your child more resilient to changes in life and encourages them to embrace such changes.
Life lesson 7: Independence
Travel can also help children to develop a sense of independence. They may need to do things on their own, such as packing their bags (for younger kids, provide a packing list checklist or do a final check to make sure they didn’t sneak that stray kitten they found in) or navigating around a new city (buy them a compass!). This helps massively with confidence and also helps them to understand the importance of their contribution.
Life Lesson 8: Communication and Social skills
Inevitably, we meet people who don’t speak our language but we still need to learn to communicate. What the kids learn is language is so much more than words, they grasp the importance of gestures and body language too. They also become much more creative at making friends. Play is the best at bringing kids together. We love the card game Taco, Cat, Goat, Cheese, Pizza for bringing kids of all nationalities together for a game.
Travelling provides an amazing classroom which goes beyond the four walls. There are opportunities for learning all around us which go beyond the core school subjects and help to develop our kids into awesome little humans.
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