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Summer travel is the perfect excuse to sneak in educational activities

As June becomes July and as even the last elementary, middle and high schools start their summer vacations, many families begin to consider their summer plans. Trips — whether by boat, car, plane or train — are a popular option, and families may devote several days or weeks to these during breaks from school and work.

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But this does not mean academic lessons are entirely abandoned during this time. Parents frequently choose to incorporate education into their summer vacations in a diverse number of ways. If you hope to do the same with your child this summer, here are three tips you can use to plan (and enjoy!) an educational summer vacation.

Ask your student to participate in destination research

If your child is old enough, invite her to help you research your vacation destination. What will the weather be like when you visit? What languages are common in this country, region or city? What historical events occurred here, and which historical figures called your destination home? What landmarks should you see? What is the food like?

Answering these questions (and many others) can encourage your student to exercise her internet research and reading literacy skills while simultaneously allowing you to plan a pleasant vacation more easily. Destination research can even reinforce math literacy — a trip to London, England, for example, is an excellent opportunity to practice division, multiplication and subtraction skills when converting Fahrenheit temperatures to Celsius.

Connect cultural experiences to classroom lessons

Hands-on learning experiences can be some of the most powerful educational opportunities available to children, and a summer vacation is rich with them. From food to music to traditional customs and dress, a trip within the United States or abroad offers the chance to explore your student’s strongest academic interests and to address her greatest academic weaknesses.

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Travel can allow you to reframe previously sterile material into a lesson that lives and breathes. For instance, perhaps your child dreads writing, but she happily volunteers to pen postcards to other family members. Or perhaps her developing counting skills are reinforced by the opportunity to count change and make small purchases independently. You may find that the authenticity of the tasks soon spurs her interest in the subject itself.

Balance educational opportunities with simple fun

While it is true that virtually every experience and pastime can impart an educational lesson, it is important to strike a healthy balance between learning opportunities and simple fun while on vacation. Well-planned trips can help families stave off summer learning loss, but children of all ages also require time to decompress and rest their minds.

A day at the beach might enable you to discuss sandcastle engineering or the role of the moon in ocean tides, but it also allows you to swim, sunbathe, relax and build lasting memories. Ultimately, you know your student’s needs and limits better than anyone. This information can assist you in planning a vacation that refreshes your family and positions your child to return to school ready for success.

For more tips and strategies to help your student succeed in school, visit

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