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Keeping Kids’ Minds Sharp During Vacation

It might sound odd, but one of the best times to encourage learning with your kids is on vacation. The reading battles of home are far behind them, and your relaxed mindset puts you in the perfect state of mind to have fun with learning, rather than enforcing it like a teacher. Learning on vacation ends up being real-life oriented, which makes your “lessons” more engaging and therefore memorable. The best part is you don’t have to beg and barter with your sun-kissed children to make it happen; at least not when you use these ideas.

Language Learning During Vacation Prep A packed bag alone doesn’t mean you’re ready for vacation, especially if you’re heading overseas. Are you going to a country that speaks another language? If so, use this as an opportunity to sneak in learning.

Start by have you’re your kids use this interactive language map to determine what languages are spoken at your vacation destination. With it, your kids will also find fun facts about the various languages, along with an estimated “Months to Learn.”

Once your child discovers which language is spoken, it’s time to learn some basic words and phrases. Do this together as a family with websites and apps like Duolingo, Busuu and LearnSpanishToday.

When you arrive to your vacation destination, have your kids put their skills to the test: Can they ask for the bathroom? Can they decipher the signage?

Mini-Lessons With Road Trip “Games” There are more apps available to us today than we can wrap our heads around, including education-focused apps that make learning fun for kids — and easy for you to sneak in during the summer.

Instead of listening to moaning, groaning and “Are we there yet?” download some of these apps for your kids to use during the drive. Not only will they be learning, but you’ll also get a little peace and quiet.

PBS KIDS has dozens of apps about space, science, animals and more, all of which are available for download on iOS and Android.

Financial Savvy With Vacation Spending You’ve likely spent many months saving for your vacation, stowing away extra cash whenever possible. Which means, you’re probably spending on a budget when vacation finally comes. Kids love pretending to be adults, so they’ll love this fun activity aimed at improving their financial savvy.

When going out to dinner, for example, have your kids choose the restaurant based on the budget you give them. Then ask them to choose their foods based on that budget, and calculate the price of the bill with everyone else’s food and taxes included.

At the end of the meal, have a conversation about calculating the tip, and why it’s important to give a tip in the first place. Have older kids do the math when the bill finally comes, calculating for a 15, 20 and 25 percent tip for extra practice with multiplication and percentages. Environmental Awareness While Camping

Camping is the perfect summer vacation trip — everyone can be outside, kids enjoying the sunshine and adults relaxing at the campsite. It’s also a great opportunity for your children to learn a little more about the world around them.

If you’re camping at a state or national park, ask the campground managers about their Junior Ranger programs. Most campgrounds in these parks offer fun ranger programs that allow kids to learn about the environment, including plants, animals, and much more.

Kids can take walking tours with the rangers to learn, and are usually given a booklet filled with activities. Once the booklet and walking tours are done, kids get their very own Junior Ranger badge, which makes for the perfect souvenir—one they’re proud to have.

Even campgrounds without junior ranger programs offer learning opportunities with night walks, day hikes and environmental lessons that are fun and exciting.

It’s surprisingly easy to keep your kids sharp on vacation under the guise of fun. Use these ideas to enhance learning throughout the summer and teach your kids real-world skills that will stay with them forever.


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