Even though rapid-fire questions from my 9-year-old son can drive me car-crazy, I love it when the iPad’s off and his own gears start turning. So as our family prepares to embark on a loop of the Olympic Peninsula, I’ve been thinking … not so much about steel lattice or insect anatomy, but about summer brain drain. Is it possible to enjoy a summer road trip and still get the kids back-to-school ready?
“Kids lose a lot over summer,” says Harris Cooper, a Duke University professor of psychology and neuroscience. The good news is, studies show that kids who travel—regardless of where they go—perform better in reading, math, and general knowledge skills. Plus, there’s that thing called family bonding. Turns out it’s totally possible for kids to keep up their school skills and have fun. Here’s how.
The connection between travel and confident, curious kids is well documented. To keep brains school-ready, Cooper recommends reading up on local histories or finding subject matter your kids will be learning in school. Since my kids will be studying Native American cultures in the fall, guess who’ll be visiting coastal Indian reservations on our road trip? And to avoid eye rolls caused by “this is actually educational” backlash, I’ll also encourage their creativity and open-mindedness by letting them choose destinations of their own.