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 a note from the teacher to parents 

Vacation Planning Is Educational and Fun!

It's that time of year again, when millions of American families are planning their summer getaways. Whether close to home or far-flung adventures, every trip requires some kind of planning in order to be successful. This year, consider letting your child help with the travel plans. Not only will that help them understand what to expect as you travel, but it will spark their interest in map reading, scheduling, and organizing!

Set the course

The first thing you'll need to decide is your vacation destination. Look at maps found in a variety of travel books to help you plan your route. If you're driving, have your child locate your home location and also the ultimate destination you're choosing. Discuss with them the best way to get to where you want to go- whether by plane, train, or automobile. You can discuss many things with your child, from the length of the trip to the price of fuel or tickets. This can help them understand the real cost of having a good time in a new locale.

Something to look forward to

When you've decided on your vacation hot spot for the year, enlist your child in searching through travel books and guidebooks for different things to do in that area. Is there a new zoo they'd love to see? Is there an adventure park just a few miles away from the hotel? Maybe there's a beautiful beach just waiting to be discovered. By including your child in the planning of your vacation stops, they'll feel like their input is important to the happiness of the entire family, and there may be fewer arguments about what to do once you arrive.

Set spending limits

When your family has all helped to decide to location and events of the big trip, spend some time talking about budget issues. By including your child in the discussion about finances, they'll learn about the value of money, gain a greater understanding of the real-world value of things, and they'll have a good understanding of how much they have to spend on "goodies" they find before you get to your destination. By setting spending guides or limits before you leave the driveway, you'll eliminate much of the whining and crying that can be the bane of the family vacation.

Plan what to do on the off times

Every trip has plenty of "down time", from travel time to rainy weather, and it's important to plan ahead for how you'll handle it. Talk with your child about things they can bring to do in the car or plane, what snacks you'll be taking along, and games or toys that can entertain the whole family, too. Be careful about bringing too many video games or MP3's, however, because too often these change from welcome distractions to points of contention as they get in the way of families truly spending time together. Books, drawing materials, travel games, paper puzzles (such as suduko), and board games are all great things to bring along for the trip.

Every family dreams of the perfect family vacation where the children are smiling and the parents have had no trouble with hotels, cars, or kids! Though this can be difficult to create in reality, by planning ahead and letting your child help in the decision making process, you can be one step closer to the vacation you've always dreamed of!

More Child Education Resources:

US Dept. of Education

Homework Help

Helping Your Child Learn Math

About Jennifer Cummings

Ms. Cummings has a psychology, and a M.Ed. in special education from Framingham State College in Massachusetts. She has been an elementary teacher in Massachusetts for almost 10 years, serving both regular education and special education students. She has taught grades 1,4, and 5.

"I believe that families' involvement in their child's education is one of the key ingredients to creating a successful school experience for children. Keeping parents informed about school-related issues helps parents and teachers work together for the best possible outcomes for their children. Learning together makes learning fun - for everyone!" - Jennifer Cummings. .