Family Vacations: Getting the Kids Involved - FamilyEducation

Family Vacations: Getting the Kids Involved

by Betsy Van Dorn

Here are some tips on planning a terrific vacation for all ages -- family style.

A family vacation is a great time to offer your kids learning opportunities -- if you're willing to give up ameasure of control and cut them some slack. It's a rare opportunity to shed everyday family roles and operateas a team. Here are some quick tips:

  • Consider going somewhere unfamiliar, doing something you've neverdone before. That puts everyone in the same boat, navigating the unknown. No one person is the expert. You're ona relatively even footing.

  • Once you've decided where to go, lean on yourkids for help in the planning process. Break out the travel section of the newspaper, a magazine, guidebook, orbrochure. Small children can find relevant illustrations and talk about what looks inviting -- or weird. Olderkids can read aloud descriptions that particularly appeal to them.

  • What child doesn't enjoy being a scout or detective? Once you've reached your destination, assign an advance team.While you're unpacking and unwinding, challenge your kids to scope out the scene and return with key information:Where's the soft drink machine? What time is breakfast served? Is there a game room? It's a heady feeling to knowthe grownups are counting on you for information.

  • Family vacations are the perfect time for kids to practice weighing priorities and making informed decisions.Whenever feasible, let the kids call the shots and deal with theconsequences. Even bad choices -- a half-baked theme park or a terrible movie -- are something to chalk up to experience.

  • Are your children pack-rats? Go ahead and encourage this tendency -- it'll sharpen their observational skills and sense ofselectivity. Long after the vacation's over, the kids can wow you with scrapbooks containing postcards, menus, matchbooks,ticket stubs, programs, illustrations, and journal entries. Whatbetter reminder of the best vacation ever?