Over the last several weeks, parents across the country, and all over the world, have suddenly had to step up to supplement the work that teachers normally handle in classrooms. What better way to ensure at-home education is engaging than to weave elements of travel into the lessons?
Most parents can say from experience, their kids can tell when they aren’t excited about that day’s lesson. By infusing elements of travel into at-home education, parents can share their love of travel with their children while still covering major subjects like math, science, social studies and English.
NOTE: This guide is intended for younger kids under the age of eight, who don’t have loads of rigorous exams and worksheets.
Hands up if your kid likes pizza! Making it, even if it’s just adding sauce and cheese to a frozen base, teaches essential early math and science skills: shapes, fractions, ratios, weight and time. It is also a chance to learn about Italy, this wonderful food’s birthplace, and practice foreign language skills with phrases like “grazie” and “prego,” which will surely come in handy here.
When your child is ready for a challenge, consider making dumplings from scratch. This dish is a great advanced course as it builds on the lessons from pizza-making and adds exact measurements, temperatures and cooking times. Make a day of it by watching a movie like Abominable, partly set in Shanghai, or sharing stories of your own search for the best dumplings during past travels.
Don’t have any personal travel stories to share? Catch an episode from any number of traveling chef shows, from David Chang’s Ugly Delicious or Emeril Lagasse’s Eat the World, and enjoy their quest. Just be sure the language is appropriate for your child before pressing play.
Young kids across the country are fascinated by dinosaurs, big cats, birds and every species of animal in between. Engage their curiosity by pull out books, watching an educational show or tune in for a live stream of an animal feeding at a zoo or aquarium.
For example, curl up with The Tiger Who Came to Tea and then brush off the encyclopedia to look up some facts about tigers. If you don’t have an encyclopedia, then check out e-books from the local library. See those facts in action with a daily session of #BringTheZooToYou from Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo.
Wind down at the end of the day with an educational show on television or a streaming service, like one of the series from Sir David Attenborough.
In teaching kids about different cultures, films can serve as an excellent launching point. Looking at a destination like Mexico, families can start off by watching a movie like Disney Pixar’s Coco, a beautiful pick for adults and children alike as Katie writes. Then make it a 360-degree lesson by cooking a typical dish, making guitars out of rubber bands and plastic containers or maracas out of rice-filled jars, then dancing to Un Poco Loco and the rest of the Coco soundtrack.
Teach children about the Pacific Islands, including Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa, Fiji, Rarotonga and Tonga with another recent Disney film: Moana. After the movie, dig into the legend of Maui, practice “fishing” with magnets and learn about traditional navigation methods using the constellations.
A love of books in adulthood starts by developing a habit of reading early on. Make a ritual of picking out a book and reading together every day. As you get to the end of a book, or even a chapter, talk about the characters, what they’ve experienced or what motivates their actions. Treat it as a mini-book club, minus the adult grape juice!
Not sure what book to pick up? Chose a favorite from when you were young or revisit a past favorite, like Madeline. Either way, it will create an engaging learning experience while “visiting” the various placing featured in the stories.
Travel-related activities can become a welcomed distraction from global news and work for adults and serve to put an educational spin on the increased quarantine screen time. Best of all, when parents really get into these daily lessons, even they can feel like they’ve escaped the four walls of home.