Travelling can look very different when you become a parent. Before your child came along, a holiday might have meant relaxing at a beach in Bali or painting the town red in Tokyo.
With children in the picture, priorities change. Parents often opt for trips that are less physically rigorous and more child-oriented. This includes choosing locations that can offer a healthy dose of fun coupled with some educational value.
The benefits of travel for children are endless, as travel offers different kinds of exposure for children at different ages.
From building historical and geographical awareness to diving head first into new and exciting adventures, travelling offers an amazing opportunity for children to cultivate important developmental skills, broaden their horizons and foster their sense of curiosity. Here are five such benefits.
One of the little joys of travelling as a child is getting to handle interesting-looking foreign notes and coins. But using foreign currency is also an opportunity for your child to flex his or her mathematical acumen, such as when they are thinking about what souvenir to buy or what to have for lunch.
Get them to work out how much the item costs in Singapore dollars, and perhaps make a comparison with similar items back home.
Sure, many of us are going cashless these days but the idea is the same. If you are travelling long distances by air, rail or road, you can also ask your child to estimate how long the trip will take based on the speed you are travelling at!
Holidays are always full of surprises for children, although some surprises are more pleasant than others.
Parents may shield their children from the worst, but whatever happens the child is sure to encounter situations and experiences that are new and unfamiliar, and which call on him or her to respond accordingly. Such experiences build resilience, adaptability and problem-solving skills.
People grow when they are out of their comfort zones, and while your holiday might be very comfortable materially, the new experiences will still take some getting used to for your child.
Younger children may be experiencing the winter cold for the first time, for example, and the perils of not moisturising the skin adequately. Children may also have to deal with the occasional flight or train delay, and the subsequent disappointment of having to miss out on a highly anticipated part of the itinerary.
Travelling also offers the perfect opportunity for your child to really learn and deepen their general knowledge outside of their textbooks.
Unless your holiday is entirely made up of going to theme parks and shopping, the chances are that your child will be visiting an attraction that is historically, geographically or culturally significant.
Harness your child’s natural curiosity, imagination and sense of wonder to get them to broaden their intellectual horizons.
Encourage your child to ask as many questions as possible about a particular attraction, or ask them a few of your own to get them thinking and a discussion going. What would the place have been like a hundred or two hundred years ago? Why are some mountains capped with snow and others not? Why was this particular building built, and why was it built in this way?
You may want to do some pre-trip research so you can have all the answers up your sleeve!
Being out of his or her comfort zone and the family’s daily routines has the added benefit of teaching your child new responsibilities.
These added responsibilities can be introduced even before you leave for the airport — when your child is put in charge of packing his or her own suitcase, for example. Older children could also be asked to be involved with some part of the trip planning, such as deciding on an attraction that takes into consideration all family members’ preferences.
On the trip proper, your child may also be tasked with helping to navigate, handle the loose change or look after their own and the family’s luggage.
The decisions they make, and the consequences they bear, teach children valuable lessons in preparing in advance and being thoughtful about their loved ones’ needs. These are skills and habits that will continue to be useful as they get older and progress into adulthood.
Finally, there’s nothing quite like travelling to help children (and adults) appreciate the many ways in which human beings can be different, and the equally many ways in which human beings are the same.
It’s one thing to know that there are billions of other people in hundreds of other countries living on the same planet. It’s another to interact with them in the flesh and see for yourself how they lead their lives.
In an increasingly globalised world, it is more important than ever that your child is able to recognise and react to cultural nuances, and find ways to relate to people of diverse origins. And in an increasingly polarised world, it is just as important that your child learns to live alongside - and not in spite of - all these differences.
But with travel out of the question during this period of time, and your child needing a sense of escapism from the rigours of school life, what other options are there?
Give your child the best of both worlds by offering a sense of escapism from the hustle and bustle of school life while allowing them to hone essential academic skills at the same time through our range of travel-centric activity sheets.
Immerse your young aspirational globetrotter in the marvels of the world by taking your pick from the myriad of exciting destinations such as:
At The Learning Lab, we believe that cultivating a global mindset and broadening our students’ horizons is paramount to excelling both in school and in life.
By bringing the world into the classroom in the form of travel-related activities, debates on current affairs, documentaries about exciting new breakthroughs and global trends, we aim to create enthusiasm for learning and provide a real-world context that will set students up for success beyond the classrooms.