By Beth Pinyerd
In the spring or summer, whether it be just day outings or a trip to extended family for Easter, spring break, or other travel plans, those parents with younger children have to plan their schedule way ahead. Meeting the needs of younger children can be a challenge but a true joy. Here are some helpful hints that I have gleaned from others, and have reused from my own teaching experiences with young children.
- Younger children operate better when they are kept on a schedule or routine. A routine gives a younger child security. Even in the classroom for young children they want to know the times for circle, snack, outside play, and nap. This is where “they are thinking” developmentally. When you are traveling in the car or other kinds of transportation you take, make allowances for your young child to eat on a schedule, take their daily nap, allow them time to stretch and get out of the car, and run when making stops. Of course safety is of utmost importance.
- With staying on course with meals, plan ahead where the restaurants are that you can stop at to meet your child’s meal time. With flying or riding a train you can preorder a meal. With bus travel I have found it best to take snacks suitable for my child on board with me. My son and I use to enjoy our bus rides to visit grandparents, as well as to sight see. One of my close friends would take all six of her children traveling on the bus during the summer to see the country. Many bus lines offer really good deals. The key to having a good trip is the planning. Be sure to take with you nutritious snacks so your child will not be eating a lot of “junk foods”. Too, make sure for toddlers and twos that the food is cut up or broken into bite size pieces so they don’t choke. Young children don’t need to eat when running or playing, due that too, they could easily choke.
- With traveling in the car, many families have found it best to begin their travels early in the morning and stop early in the afternoon to allow for proper rest. Many times in starting off early a young child can be quietly picked up without even waking them up, and they can continue to get their night’s rest. If traveling in the car, discuss the most reasonable distance to travel each day.
- Be sure to select some favorite toys, games, CDs of songs they might enjoy to listen to.
In selecting what you take, make sure these are toys you can travel with easily. One suggestion is to go to the Dollar stores to pick out inexpensive coloring books and games that your child hasn’t seen before. Don’t play with these ahead of time. This will be a nice travel surprise gift.
- I always take a package of stickers as incentives on field trips and reward good behavior I see on the trip. It is something how a young child will work for a simple sticker. Too, other incentives can be used like rewarding your child by stopping at their favorite restaurant or getting their favorite foods. You will be surprised at how the simple things make a young child very happy. Verbal praise is one of those simple rewards that doesn’t cost a thing.
- One does not have to spend an “arm and a leg” to have a good outing with young children. In traveling, my husband and I use to find the playgrounds in the towns we would go through with our young son when traveling. With a picnic lunch, we would spend a few minutes eating then let our son play for a few minutes.
- Try to choose places you stay as “child oriented or child friendly places.” Most of our motels and campsites are definitely family oriented.
- Remember to take your medical kits to take care of emergency needs, as well as medicines your child usually takes. Be sure to take the phone number of your child’s doctor.
- Make sure you remember your camera to make your special vacation or family outing one to remember over and over. A pictures speaks a thousand words and captures a happy moment or memory in time.
- Remember to have fun with your child on your outings or vacations. TIME spells LOVE!
Pinyerd has taught young children in the early childhood classroom for 34 years as well as outreaching to the elderly in intergenerational settings. She has taught and outreached in the schools in Opelika and Baldwin County. She holds a master’s degree in early childhood education as well as a bachelor’s degree in family and child development both from Auburn University. Her husband is the late Carl Pinyerd and she has one son, Gus Pinyerd who has taught her so much about learning. Classroom Observer is here to serve the community in sharing the wonderful teaching programs in our local public schools, private schools, and homeschools. The column is provided to enrich the education of our children, youth, and families. Classroom Observer welcomes educational news, school news, pictures, and events by e-mailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.