Have you ever wondered how holidays benefit your child’s development? Whether it’s a staycation or a more adventurous foray abroad, any trip to a new destination gives children the opportunity to experience and process new surroundings, meet new people, and engage in different activities. These experiences can broaden their horizons and significantly boost their development extending the benefit of family holidays far beyond a child’s infant years.
If you have ever wondered if your hard earned cash as a single parent benefits your little ones who you think might not remember the pristine beach in the Caribbean or your older kids who moan about every aspect of your city trip to Stockholm tracing the footsteps of the Vikings, read on and find out how making travel an important aspect of your kids’ childhood can support their development in later life.
Holidays are a sensory experience
According to a recent US study many adults say their most vivid and happiest childhood memories are of family vacations. This comes to no surprise: Our senses are strongly intertwined with our memories explaining why children’s first memories are often of holidays spent with family.
For young children holidays are a sensory experience. New places feel, smell, and sound different. Even water and food taste differently. We all know that kids learn through play, and sensory play is particularly enriching as it builds new nerve connections in the brain. When you go on holiday with your children, you develop their cognitive growth, i.e. their curiosity and creativity, their ability to interact socially with others, and their motor skills because holidays engage all of your kids’ senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste.
Holidays inspiring a love of travel
Taking your kids outside their safe home environment and allowing them to explore new cultures, people, and places when young, can greatly benefit their personal development. It will not only broaden their horizons but also instil a feeling of freedom – that the world is their oyster! Taking family holidays can forge a lifelong love of travel and an affinity to travel has many advantages:
Your kids are much more likely to embrace diversity, respect different viewpoints, and appreciate the planet. Establishing a sense of wanderlust in children from an early age will encourage them to explore more of our beautiful planet as they grow up and make them citizens of the world. With the world becoming increasingly interconnected, they might even decide to travel the world with friends or relocate to foreign shores. A love of travel opens up limitless opportunities. Last but not least, happy memories of family holidays will undoubtedly inspire them to expose their own children to similar experiences.
Holidays broaden your kids’ horizons
There is no doubt that travelling increases awareness of other people and cultures in children, broadening their worldview and inspiring curiosity. Through experiencing activities and environments outside the home, they gain a greater understanding and respect for different cultures and ways of life.
Naturally, not every holiday offers the same opportunity to immerse yourself and your children into the culture of a country. But even beach holidays at 4- or 5-star holiday resorts can benefit your kids’ development. Teach them to see the world with open eyes as you take the transfer from the airport to your hotel. Take them outside the hotel and teach them about the country and its people. Observe how people live, interact with the hotel staff, and chat to the locals – maybe even practise your language skills.
By experiencing first-hand how other families live, children can relate more to the individuals they meet, rather than just learning about them from a book. Through these experiences, children can develop greater empathy and understanding for others. They also learn to appreciate different ways of life, becoming aware of issues such as poverty or inequality they may not be exposed to at home. Holidays can also spark a new passion or interest, be it an unfamiliar sport or the desire to learn a foreign language. All these things can help your children to grow into more well-rounded individuals.
Holidays teach life skills
Whether at school or in the home, there are plenty of opportunities day to day for children to hone some of the important skills they will need throughout their lives. However, heading to new parts of the worlds presents a wonderful chance to really bring these skills to the fore, increasing their confidence and giving them a greater sense of responsibility and independence – important qualities for those who want to succeed in life.
You could, for example, introduce your children to the importance of financial awareness, by giving them the opportunity to take care of their own money for the duration of your holiday. Another way to develop their core set of life skills is to get them involved in the planning process. Ask for their input on where they would like to go, what they would like to see and even where they want to stay. Not only does this provide children with an important sense of responsibility, but by getting their input at this stage, you can help to keep everyone happy on your travels. You could also task them with resolving minor problems themselves either before or during the holiday to improve their problem-solving skills. This will improve their confidence and resilience.
Not only are all of the key skills useful in our personal lives, but many can also help to build the foundations for a successful career in the world of work. Experts suggest that being given more opportunities to travel as a child can help people to become better leaders as they grow up, having had the chance to develop these core skills from an early age.
Naturally, there are many more ways in which travel can benefit your children’s development. Sharing quality time with them, getting them away from the screen and out moving, boosting their confidence, and building their character are just a few more that spring to mind. It doesn’t mean you need to travel to far flung or even remote destinations. There can be just as much value in going on a UK city break or another part of the country – there are plenty of summer staycation destinations in the UK. Here, you could encourage your children to try some of the traditional delicacies, go to the local museum and try out new fun activities that you can’t or haven’t been able to do at home. It will be all new and exciting to them, whether you have travelled hundreds of miles or just taken a train to a nearby city.
About the author:
Single Parents on Holiday offer family holidays for single parents and their children as well as solo ski holidays for mature solo travellers and single parent empty nesters looking for adult company on holiday.