Preparing kids for the experience of a lifetime.
Amid all the preparations it is easy to get consumed with itineraries, shopping, or organizing and it becomes easy to forget that kids become more excited when prepared for the trip. To do this, here are a few suggestions:
- Involve them in the decision making. Give them several options of things to see or do and ask them what they prefer to do. This allows them to be part of the planning and in so doing they become excited to visit the places they chose.
- Read books that take place in the location you are traveling to. This enhances their understanding of historical events and gets them thinking, questioning and looking forward to the visit. The best website I have found is this travelforkids site. I love it because within each country and city are lists of activities to do and things to see. At the bottom of the page are book suggestions that take place in a specific area or in a different era. This is extremely useful and reduces the time needed to find appropriate books.
- Watch movies related to the area. For example, if visiting Germany there are so many options. The Book Thief, The Diary of Anne Frank, Monuments Men or Disney's Night Crossing. Austria? The Sound of Music. I even love Ocean's Eleven if visiting Italy:)
- Buy a large wall map and mark all the places to be visited with push pins. This gives kids the visual of where they are now and where they will be going. This was a hit at our house.
- Print our phrases from each country and let them practice.
- Look up information on the climate, social habits, lifestyle, history of each place and read it together or have them read about one portion and share what they learned with the family.
- Eat food from the area you will be traveling to.
Activities like these can enhance the child's experience. I was in college the first time I went abroad. We went to Switzerland with Dr. Barton to study french. We travelled for 3 weeks before arriving in Switzerland. We stopped in Rome and Italy to see some of the world's famous art work. Before leaving I was required to read The Agony and The Ecstasy. This is one of the best things I did in preparation to go. It opened my eyes to the work that went into the creation of these pieces of art and I was in awe. I thank Dr. Barton to this day for giving me some required reading.