BUT I am on an adventure that includes meeting with passionate people and being inspired in my work by learning from some really knowledgeable people. Days like these always make me return to work with a spring in my step and a heightened vision.
I grew up in an area away from where I now live. Being quite a distance I rarely travel to my old town. Today, however, I needed to drive through it on my way to Sydney.
Wow! What a change.
There was a restaurant where the book shop used to be.
The car dealership where we used to stop for stickers after school was in the midst of being demolished.
The high school (MY high school!) had many new buildings and tall fences.
The record store (where I used to buy all my music on vinyl) sat empty.
The school where I did kindergarten is no longer a school.
There was so much to see. Traveling further down the highway I noticed areas of bushland that were being built out. New areas of shops and service stations.
There was so much to look at that I almost wished that I was a passenger.
As I sat at a set of traffic lights I had a moment of realisation. I had driven down this road many times in the past and it was all still so fascinating to me.
Then I thought...imagine being a child on a car journey. There is so much to see. There is so much to ask about. There is so much to talk about. So many journeys represent the first time in a particular place for children.
But... do we make the most of these opportunities? Is the distraction of movies or hand-held devices so great that we spend valuable travelling time together but really apart?
I'm a mum. I understand that car trips can be challenging. I've done a 20 hour car trip with my child. More than once! But I also know that this special time, when children are young, is so very valuable. There is a world of interest outside of the car windows. There is a world of interest INSIDE the car also.
SO how can we rediscover the joys of travel with children? It's important to remember that every child is different. What captivates one child will be of less interest to another. Some ideas that you could try...
- Talk about your journey before you begin. It may be a hour to the shops. It may be several hours on the way to a holiday. Where are you going? Where is it on a map? What do you think you might see on the way? Writing down your child's predictions and revisiting these when you return is a valuable literacy experience together with an opportunity to extend your conversation.
- How many different types of animals do you see? How many types of machinery? How many umbrellas can you count on a rainy trip? Your child's interests and ages will help you choose items of interest.
- Open-ended questions can be fantastic for conversations starters: How do you think they made that building? Where do you think these trucks go at night? Where do you think that person is travelling to?
- Old fashioned "Spotto" is a fantastic game to promote observation skills and literacy. This is easily adaptable for children of different ages. The internet may also help you to find pictures of places or objects that you may see on the way if realistic pictures would be most suitable.
- Spend time with your child creating a playlist/ cd of music for your trip. Singing together is a beautiful experience. Perhaps you could have a mixture of children's songs and contemporary music.
- Share the telling of a story. You could give the introduction and encourage your child to add to this. If your child is younger, you might be able to ask questions to prompt (e.g. Kat walked along the path under the dark, hanging jungle trees...what kind of animal did he se on the rock up ahead?)
- If you have time, make unplanned stops in your trip. Encourage your child to point out something that they would like to look at. Take a photo here to promote recall and conversation later.