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Guest Blog by Alisa Abecassis is a travel blogger at www.ExploreAll50.com, and is a nationally sought-after expert in family travel across the United States. Alisa can also be found on twitter – @ExploreAll50.
Teaching can take place in many different ways, but one that most people don’t think about and yet can have the biggest impact is travel. Road trips across the US can be adventurous and fun, but they can also be one of the most effective ways to teach a variety of concepts from History and Geography to Culture, Science and everything in between.
As a single mom, I took on a project to see all 50 states with my children over a course of numerous annual road trips (after 14 trips we are currently up to 42). Very quickly I realized I had become an “accidental teacher” and saw how much my kids were learning – not only supplementing what they were learning in school but important life lessons as well. I’d like to share 4 important reasons to get out on the road with your family and take teaching and learning to a whole new level.
1. History is not just a story in a book – We all remember our history lessons, reading from our textbooks, and often times history seems like just a good story. It’s hard to imagine real people and real events taking place. When you travel and see historic places and actual artifacts, it makes history come alive. Seeing the landscape and gear that Lewis and Clark traveled with is to know the hardship of their mission. Looking out the window of the 6th floor depository in Dallas Texas where Lee Harvey Oswald aimed to kill President Kennedy is to see that historic moment captured in time – it’s real – and no textbook can ever bring to life that experience the same way. Travel is an incredible way to create real life connections to our history through memories.
2. Appreciating what we eat and use everyday – Most folks are completely oblivious about where their food comes from or how things they use everyday are made. Farm and factory tours are an incredible way to understand and appreciate the time, energy, engineering and science that go into things we take for granted. From potato chips, cheese, ice cream to guitars, furniture, baseball bats-there are tons of places all across America to learn-by seeing, smelling, tasting and touching. I cannot think of a more exciting way to learn than engaging all of the senses.
3. Experiencing diversity – From landscape to accents to foods, one of life’s most important lessons is to recognize and respect diversity. It’s important for kids (and adults) to know that places outside their communities are unique and different and the best way to do this is through travel. There are a million questions that can be asked – How is architecture different and why? How do economics affect communities? What foods are popular in different areas and why? There are so many important lessons but most important of all is the accepting and understanding of differences and realizing that diversity is the richness in the fabric of who we are as a nation.
4. Create treasure trove of memories – Too often our time is spent at a computer or in front of the television instead of spending quality family time. Travel allows us spend time away from those things and focus on real life experiences. There is no price you can put on a shared road trip memory that will inspire a laugh in your family for the rest of your life. These trips become your family history, they bond you together through shared experiences in ways nothing else can. In short, they make us happy, and when we are happier we approach life differently, we learn differently.
Travel does require planning and effort but I have found over and over again, that the rewards are endless. I cannot imagine a more effective way to learn than by being there, engaging the senses and spending time together talking, laughing and making shared memories. I challenge anyone and everyone to pack their bags and take on the project I call Explore All 50.