Talking About Current Events When Planning Summer Travel With Kids

As summer approaches, many parents are planning trips with their kids to places of historical interest – such as Washington, DC. Guest blogger Golnar Khosrowshahi of GoGoNews shares another way to get your kids psyched about their destination – by talking about current events that they’ve seen in the news. 

Prior to taking a trip, I have always tried to educate my children about our destination. The information I typically provided was the fodder of guidebooks – so if we were on our way to London, they would learn about Buckingham Palace, the Royal Family, the pound sterling, and what a “loo” is. However, planning a recent trip to the nation’s capital has made me rethink our pre-travel prep.

My children made the standard request to do a White House drive by, but they also had a very specific “must do” list – the source of which baffled me. They wanted to visit the Washington Monument specifically to see the progress being made to address the cracks sustained during the minor earthquake along the eastern seaboard last August. They also wondered if the Space shuttle Discovery would be ready to receive visitors. Added to their list was a visit to the ‘Atlas Recycled’ sculpture installed for Earth Day earlier this year. Their list went on and on with each item becoming more and more specific in nature.

The common thread with each and every item on the list was that these were all events that they had learned about through exposure to news. From a guidebook, they would have only learned about the story behind the Washington Monument – but from reading the news, they had their curiosity piqued by a relevant ongoing situation along with the history of the obelisk. Past and current history came together, which makes for a much more interested child!

While I have always underscored the exposure of children to news, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it would be translated into a plan for action. Here was further proof that with news consumption, children were retaining the information only to draw upon it months later in a context relevant to their own life or experience.

We ended up having a wonderful visit to Washington and fulfilled most of the requirements on the kids’ list. One of the most memorable experiences for me was when I showed them the difference between a regular license plate and a diplomatic license plate. My daughter seamlessly informed me that being a diplomat means you can park anywhere and she recently read that diplomats in New York City owed more than $17 million dollars in fines. I am still working on explaining that being a diplomat has meaning other than transcending parking privileges!

Giving current context on events and locations can help children get more involved in their surroundings and help them realize that history is not only something they read about in school or in guidebooks, but that they can also witness it in the making and that it is a really exciting thing. Our pre-travel prep now includes checking the news to come up with additional destinations to add to our “must-see” list. So if we were to go to London tomorrow, not only would I teach them about the aforementioned historical elements of the city, but I would also have them read about the London 2012 Olympic Gamesthe Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concertKate Middleton, Sir Jonathan Ive, and the Bionic woman who completed the London Marathon.
Golnar Khosrowshahi is the founder of GoGoNews, a website that publishes up to the minute, age appropriate current events for children. She has also written for The Huffington Post and been featured in many technology and parenting related columns. You can read featured guest blog posts by her here at Red-Hot Parenting the 2nd and 4th week of every month.

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