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Forget the "Brain Drain:" Combine Family Summer Travel and Education

Who else seriously needs a break…from summer break?!

We’ve had a “goodncrazy” summer, filled with road trips, air trips, summer camps, camping-camps, and very little home time.

Parents always worry about the education “brain drain” during summer vacation. And, like us, when you aren’t home to keep up on reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic, how do you keep more than a few facts from slipping out of your kids’ brains?!

That said, the Rogers family departs once again, heading out for our last vacation before summer ends. This time it’s to NJ for a beach visit to the Garden State, where we used to live. School for the goodncrazy kids starts in a few short weeks so there literally won’t be time to stuff their brains with educational catch-up once we return.

Not a problem, however.

We plan to create educational experiences and plug the brain drain without them even knowing it!


5 Ways to Sneak in Education While on Vacation!  (Shall we call it Edu-Vacationing?)

  • Before you leave, include the kids in some research. Map out the destinations, learn about different transportation options available in a large city (like subways and bus systems), help kids make any flight reservations, and include them in last minute changes to itineraries. These are all great geography lessons. Not to mention life lessons!


  • Plan to visit educational sites while on vacation. Museums, historic monuments and even family birthplaces can all be very educational! We are super excited about visiting the National Park Service's Thomas Edison Park in West Orange, NJ. We lived right next door for 3 years and never saw it. Now we’re flying 2,000 miles and we are NOT going to miss it! My little boy is a science freak so it’s a no brainer to look for science-related museums and outings while on vacation. (Surprise bonus: There’s a fabulous kid’s science play area in the San Francisco airport!)


  • Don’t tell the kids it’s good for them. I’m talking about electronic educational apps masquerading as games! It’s simple: In Google Play or in iTunes search for educational games. There are hundreds (maybe thousands?), so start with the free versions and when you like one upgrade to the paid version for more benefits. (Tip: Famigo is a family-friendly review site, so start there!) A few of our favorites include: Chocolate Fix by  ThinkFun; SuperWhy, a new app by PBS Kids; and YabberMag by Big Red Publications. Education and entertainment, all in one!


  • Learn a language together! We found out that our high school has access to Rosetta Stone (a language learning company), and for a small fee we were able to have access the Spanish software, giving our teen a bit of a head start on her language class. Since we take our laptops with us on most trips (the software doesn’t work on iPads), she can use the Internet interface during downtime. Not to leave out the younger kids we found a really great language app called MindSnacks. The first two levels are free, and the full version is $5 for 20 levels (Dad already speaks the language so we test ourselves on him!)


  • Follow up after landing back home. Help your kids write a silly version of “What I Did on Summer Vacation,” including drawings they make about the places you visited. Ask the older kids to pen a fun poem with rhyming words—Dr. Suess style—about each day of vacation. And pull out all your receipts and have the kids help tally up the cost of the trip. See if they can spot ways to cut costs for the next family-travel event!


Summer is winding down fast for us. And yet many of my friends across the country are already in school!

What did YOU and your family do for summer vacation?

Editor's note: Check these SchoolFamily.com articles about other ways to prevent summertime "brain drain"and keeping kids fit and active during the summer.

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