With the summer travel season in full swing, families are spending more time together on vacations and exploring the great outdoors. And while the destinations promise memorable fun, simply “getting there” can be stressful.
In fact, 97 percent of parents dread spending more than an hour in the car with their kids, according to the results of a recent survey conducted by BabyCenter.com on behalf of VTech, a maker of age-appropriate and developmental stage-based electronic learning products for children.
“Most problems parents face while traveling with their kids stem from boredom,” says Dr. Helen Boehm, psychologist and VTech consultant. “Kids have been in school all year where their minds are constantly active and soaking up knowledge. But the learning doesn’t have to stop in summer.”
It’s all about engaging kids with fun and educational experiences, Boehm says.
To keep the boredom at bay and make family travel more enjoyable, try these fun tips on your next summer road trip:
• Teach by observation: Look for landmarks along the way and discuss their history and importance. If the trip allows, stop at sites such as museums and aquariums. Look for license plates and talk about what each person knows about the state. Make a list of all the license plates spotted.
• Incorporate learning toys: Learning toys are a great way to help children stay mentally sharp during vacations, while also allowing them to explore and have fun. Look for an educational, developmental toy like VTech’s InnoTab 3S Learning Tablet, which offers interactive game play and learning fun on such subjects as reading, math, social studies and science. With Wi-Fi, children can explore approved websites on the kid-safe web browser and use the “VTech Kid Connect” app to stay connected to their friends.
• Take time for rest stops: A quick break can alleviate the choruses of, “Are we there yet?” and also allow for teachable moments. If there are parks or nature walks along the way, kids can look for animals, collect interesting plants, leaves and stones and try to identify them.
• Pack a boredom bag: Parents can keep kids engaged with a fully stocked “boredom bag,” complete with books on their favorite subjects. For example, VTech’s Touch & Teach Word Book offers interactive touch pages that help children learn letters, music, sounds and more than 100 words.
A small notebook and pencil is great for drawing and lets kids explore their creative side. Pack small craft items like pipe cleaners and construction paper. Or use flashcards to introduce them to a variety of new topics, such as letters, numbers, colors and animals.
More tips for summer learning fun can be found at www.vtechkids.com/parenting.
With some simple planning and prep, parents don’t have to dread summer road trips and can enjoy not just the destination, but the journey as well.