Think a vacation is just a vacation? What about using it to slip in some serious learning fun and gain a few extra school days at the same time?
I love vacations! They are the best. They’re relaxing, casual, lazy, crazy and educational. Yes, I said educational. Think I’m crazy? It was so funny when my kids were younger and my friends heard that I counted trips to the aquarium, and the battleship as school days while we were on vacation. Why not? I was able to in them at a homeschool discount and they were having a great time and learning. So, I counted them as homeschool days, even though we were on vacation.
But then, more of my friends started to do it. Matter of fact, we found out that a veteran homeschool family had been doing it every summer for years. Every summer they packed up their RV and traveled! They loved it and had the most special memories. The dad even spoke about it at one of our support group meetings. Don’t fret if you don’t have an RV, I don’t have one either, but you can still make some great summer vacation memories and clock in some insane learning!
There are several ways to get in some fun summer learning that you can count as school days. You can go to a destination vacation overseas and visit a foreign country. There would be museums to see, cultural experiences, and lots of history. Your child could try out speaking a foreign language that they are learning. The possibilities are endless!
Take a destination trip to somewhere like Colonial Williamsburg. Every state has historic sites. Really take some time to experience them. But don’t think of just history, think science, math, and art, too. You could make these trips really immersive, or just a casual visit. You want to have fun as a family. The trick to summer learning is that it’s not forced learning on vacations, it’s casual and memorable because the whole family is having fun.
Don’t forget about National and State parks! They have all kinds of things going on and lots of learning opportunities besides camping. Have your kids make a photo journal of plants and trees on a nature hike. Learn about local wildlife. Learn about the terrain, geology and any history.
Take short day trips to local sites near you. I live in a place that is surrounded by history from colonial to modern. I’ve lived here my whole life and there are tons of things that I haven’t even seen, or heard of that are within an hour of my house. Think of trips like that. Take off and go to the zoo for the day. Maybe do a civil war trail in your town. Go see a reenactment of a battle.
Here’s a really easy idea! Have your kids, or teens interview people who you know, about their life. Let them tell them what it was like during a war, or living during a particular time period. It doesn’t have to be a serious Q & A, just a nice sit-down chat. What about your own backyard? Take a walk in a park and look at tadpoles. Get creative!
And don’t forget about those amazing summer nights under the stars. Start the day at a planetarium. Then, when it gets dark out, break out the telescope! Spend the night under that stars and fun looking for planets.
There are tons of ways to sneak in summer learning while on vacation, besides a kid’s camp; whether you travel, or stay home. Just don’t make it forced, your kids need a little break from homeschool and so do you. Don’t forget to check with places that you visit and ask if they offer discounts to homeschool teachers and students. Lots of places do. There are even homeschool travel agents out there to help you plan a perfect trip!