As the school holidays approach, you might be starting to worry that you haven't yet booked an overseas trip for your kids to enjoy like their friends, or perhaps you have booked a once in a lifetime holiday abroad and are now concerned that it could take away from your children's revision time?
Inevitably, if you have offspring in primary or secondary school in the UK then you will be governed by the national school holidays and thus have to pay a bumper price for your family vacation. This is bound to effect what and where you chose in terms of your break, but rest assured that any form of travel will have a positive effect on your children, even if you only make it a few miles down the road or you jet-set across the globe!
The Positive Effects of Travel On Youth
Though some parents may not have the money or the time off from work to be able to pack their bags and leave the country for a week during the school holidays, those parents who home school may have a different approach to using travel as a learning tool because of their flexibility. Whether you are a stay at home parent and teacher or your child attends a state school, then you can all benefit from these great advantages of taking your child out of their usual surroundings for the break.
Note that you don't necessarily have to share the experience with your child - school trips are just as much a journey of growth and learning as a family holiday!
1. Allows kids to have new experiences
Travel, going away, or simply visiting family in other locations provides new stimuli and opportunities to broaden understanding. Whenever children are experiencing new things, new places, new habitats, new cities or countryside, new activities from map reading or surfing to ordering your dinner in French or using public toilets in Greece (quite an experience!), they are learning. Their mind is being expanded and challenged, their skills and understanding are increasing, confidence grows. Even being in an airport or station can do that.
2. Enables them to challenge themselves with new pursuits
New pursuits, especially physical ones, challenge our kids and when they are challenged they are developing. Challenges like ‘how can I stay on this skim board’ or ‘how can I raise some extra cash this summer’ stimulate mental development, and all physical activity increases blood to the brain and therefore extends mental capacity, as well as being good for the body and general wellbeing. It all educates in one way or another.
Camping, for example, may be seen as 'lame' but it gives young ones so many opportunities to learn about the world and how to fend for themselves. Living without the internet and a toilet that flushes might end up giving them the best lesson ever!
3. Advances their social and interaction skills
The relaxed social interaction you get on holiday, with a wide range of people of all ages and from all areas of life, like visiting distant family or meeting others on trips and holiday venues, increases the children’s social skills and therefore confidence. It gives them opportunities to learn to interact in a more normal social setting than the tense and restricted one found in school. It provides opportunity for conversation, language development, increased understanding and empathy for others and many other essential social skills. Just picture your child making friends in the communal swimming pool, meeting new people in kids' club and getting to interact and communicate with children from other countries as well!
4. Gives them the space they need to relax and unwind
Just like you, your child needs some time to de-stress and forget about all their worries - "but what have they got to be so stressed about as a child", you might be thinking?
Believe it or not, your child probably goes through the same tumultuous emotions as you do when faced with challenging days, months or even years, from fighting with their friend to worrying over an important exam. It's important not to belittle their fragile state and to instead acknowledge their feelings of anxiety, stress or tiredness and offer them the opportunity to let these go and focus on self-care. After all, you want your child to learn how to tackle these negative feelings and be able to cope with them in the future as their worries and pressures potentially become greater.
Don't Feel Obliged To Spend Money On A Holiday
Okay, so we've been going on and on about how great a holiday is for a child, and we stand by this. However, this is only an experience, a bonus you might say, and should be just that - a holiday should be memorable and not the norm for you child (unless, of course, you visit the same place every year or go to see family and this is a regular concurrence and is still a special time) which means that if for one reason or another you can't give your child a holiday for one or two years then they won't be missing anything because they don't know what it is they're missing out on.
You see, children are adaptable and will find ways of entertaining themselves wherever they find themselves.
Spending time at or close to home can be just as satisfying
Even time at home without being entertained by you, or video games or the TV gives kids valuable opportunity to think about personal pursuits and their own lives and to find ways independently to do.
Home educated children, for example, traditionally have lots of time to find pursuits that engage and motivate them. Their school is their surroundings so they take interest in all of the details. That stimulation spills over into many aspects of their lives, their education included and it teaches them ways to be independent in what they do, how they think and how they lead their own lives. They learn how to take charge of themselves – an essential life skill.
Children can rediscover what they love to do
Holidays provide time for school children to get back into the habit of doing what they love and find out what really makes them tick.
So rather than taking a complete break from education for the summer, parents come to find that their kids are learning just as much from doing things they love around the house; reading in the garden, going out to the park to see friends, creating, building and crafting, exploring and investigating their outdoor environment, or beginning a new project. Life is much the same as any other time, but it feels more precious because it is the school holidays and there is a certain value placed on their time and freedom during those weeks.
And then, when you take your kids back into the education environment they tend to have further skills, simply from having time to exercise their minds and bodies without restrictions.
Motivated children are learning children
Personal time to find out what they love to do and what motivates them is essential for their development. That’s why children educated out of school are often more motivated than children who’ve spent all their lives being dictated to and this is something that all parents can take note of when they start to look at, plan or worry about their kids' next school leave.
It could be said that the policy of preventing parents from taking their children on holiday in term time is bizarre, since we all know and agree that travel and all new experiences teach children something, but while that rule is in place then parents must accept that and try to use the school holidays efficiently.
Holidays are as educational as term time, so there really needn't be a distinction between the two.