“The child has a different relation to his environment from ours… the child absorbs it. The things he sees are not just remembered; they form part of his soul. He incarnates in himself all in the world about him that his eyes see and his ears hear.” Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind
Last summer, my good friend said something that sticks with me today: vacations happen when parents go by themselves; trips are when the whole family goes. His thought was that vacations are brain breaks from being an active parent, in the trenches, while trips are work for the whole family.
Trips require logistics, planning, packing, ensuring that everyone is covered with the things they need. This is particularly the case with road trips, where you have plenty of opportunity, as a family, to get acquainted with one another in a confined space.
Well, it’s summer vacation time and trips and travel are on our minds here at Montessorium. We’re thinking about how much heavy lifting we’re willing to do and how much planning it will take to pull off a short or longer trip with the kids. Just when I was looking for inspiration to think more about kid trips, this great piece came across the wires from Scary Mommy. The basic message? Make travel and experiences a priority.
Why should we as parents – and particularly Montessori or alt-ed parents – make travel and experiences a priority? The piece lays it out really well.
- Travel has greater object permanence. Children want to see new things and experience them uniquely and in context with their parents. These experiences get encoded well beyond more ephemeral things (toys, video games) that kids might otherwise occupy their time with.
- Travel knits the family together. Trips together require extra types of cooperation. I’ve always been amazed at how positively my children remember trips, even though it seems like they’re a constant tug and pull of getting there, getting situated, getting meals, and arranging adventures. The kids see the positive and love the journey. It tightens your family bonds because you share the common experience.
- Travel challenges us. Whether we go to a big city or back in the woods – or just around the corner – family trips serve up new images and ideas. They put us in a position to experience cultures and concepts that live outside of our apartments, homes, cul de sacs, or day-to-day. Travel challenges the whole family in great ways.
- Travel empowers children. When done right, travel is a collaborative process not just in the individual trip, but in the planning of future trips. As parents, we can ask what our children would like and let them determine their own map for what a trip is or what future trips can be. We then can look forward together to family time that we all own and value.
This summer, think about taking a few small trips or one bigger one. Ask your children to be involved with helping you think about where to go and what to do. Build an itinerary and get in the car or on a plane if you can. And build memories that will make your family stronger and your child’s adventurous spirit richer.
What summer trip or travel plans do you have? Share them with us on Instagram @primarycommunity!
About the Author
Bill Anderson is a father of 4 who shares his experiences about parenting and life with Guidepost Parent.
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