Ways to make planning a day out educational – not just the visit itself

There are many ways to make a day out educational for your child from looking for road signs on the way there, to spotting wildlife during the trip that they’ve learnt about in the classroom. But teaching your children new things doesn’t have to stop there. Preparing for the trip itself can bring educational benefits like a day at a good school

A paper map of a center parcs in the Netherlands

Here are some ways to make planning and preparing for a day out educational. 

Researching your visit

When you’ve decided on where you’ll go for your day out, planning your visit with your child is a good place to start to make the process educational. Together you can read about the place that you’re going to visit, pointing out things like where it is, what time it opens and closes, and how much activities cost. If you’re visiting somewhere like a zoo or theme park you’re bound to find a map of that attraction online. You can then show your child the map, what different activities you can do and where you need to go to do them. Depending on their age you can also ask them to spot things on the map which you’ve previously read about. All this can help your child with everything from understanding basic research to reading and observation skills. 

Deciding what you need 

When you’ve planned your day out with your child, you should encourage them to talk about what they think they might need for it. Perhaps see what items they can think up themselves, and then give some hints and ideas if they’re struggling. This can range from specific items, like a bucket and spade for the beach, or a camera for the zoo, to more general things, like needing a coat and umbrella in case it’s cold and rains. You can then create a list of what you need. When your child says an item that’s important you can add it to the list. You can even ask them to try and write or spell the more basic or complicated words depending on their age. Things like this can help them think more logically when doing a task and encourage them to associate items with different activities, all while helping with their writing and spelling skills.

Piccadilly Circus at dusk with taxis, big red buses and cars

Planning your route 

Whether you’ll be travelling by train, bus or car, planning your route can also be a very educational part of planning your trip. If you or your partner will be driving, you could first look at a map of your journey, showing where you will start and finish. Depending on your child’s age, you can look at things like the counties, towns and villages you’ll pass through, as well as the landmarks you might see along the way. You can look at the length of the journey, what time you plan to arrive and ask what time they think you should set off. 

If you’re travelling by bus or train you could look at what time you will arrive and depart, observe the digital times given, and get your child to draw some clock faces to see if they can match up the right time. You could look at the direction that you’ll travel through the country, the stations you’ll pass through and the towns or cities they belong to. You could also make a list of some of the landmarks you might see on the journey, such as buildings, lakes and viaducts. During the journey itself you can try and spot these and tick them of your list. All this can help your child build skills in everything from geography and map reading to understanding distance and telling the time. 

Packing for your trip 

The different things you’ve done with your child before this point can help make packing for your day out educational too. You can use the list you’ve put together of what you might need for your trip, and then help your child find those items in the house. You can then tick them off the list once they’re been packed. Or you could make more of a game of it and see if they can remember what was on the list before you show it to them. You could also get them to count and add the items together and split them into categories to make this more educational. For instance; clothes, food and things for the journey, and then see if they match up the right item with the right category. 

Finishing your trip preparation this way can put your child in the right educational mindset for the trip itself. With all they’ve done in the lead up to the trip, they should be engaged, excited, and ready to learn more.

***Disclosure: This is a collaborative post***

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