Vacation with your kids – they’ll be smarter

Research shows kids who vacation do better academically. Get packing, they’ll be smarter for it!

Traveling with children can be challenging, but it's worth the effort.
Traveling with children can be challenging, but it's worth the effort.

Which best describes a parent’s feeling about traveling with their children: pleasure or pain? Maybe it’s both! If you’re a parent who travels with their kids, you know it can be incredibly stressful planning, packing, explaining, and spending additional money and time. For parents who accept the challenge to travel with their kids, they may wonder if it’s all worth it, and of course we know it is! Right?

If you were told that taking your kids on vacation actually makes them smarter, would that make it all worth it? I would say, “YES,” and research can prove it. “The Relationship of Family Summer Vacation Trips and Academic Achievement Among First Graders,” a national study conducted by Clemson University using U.S. Department of Education data, found that children who travel over summer break did better in reading, math and general knowledge than their peers who didn’t travel.

Bill Norman of Clemson University says, “The data is clear – and gives hard-working parents another reason not to put off a summer vacation trip. Providing kids with the experience of travel broadens their horizons and opens up their minds to learning.”

Let’s delve into this a bit more. The study indicates that the two theories that are most closely related to the research conducted are:

  • Meaningful learning theory: The concept that what is learned during experiences can be applied to future experiences and built upon.
  • Experiential learning theory: Where knowledge and skills are learned through a process of doing something, reflecting about it and applying to future experiences.

Traveling with your child might just cause you pleasure and pain, but in the long-run, know that your child is benefiting from your efforts to take them on vacation! 

For more articles on child development, academic success, parenting and life skill development, please visit the Michigan State University Extension website.

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