The education that comes with traveling to other countries can’t be compared to reading about it in a school text book. Although the girls have been absent from school this week, the cultural experience of being in Mexico has, among other things, provided opportunities for the girls to
- navigate an airport and understand how to go through security, how to determine which gate your plan will be at, how to find your gate and where to pick up your luggage (yes, we do involve the girls in the entire process)
- understand the customs process and the purpose of passports
- read a map of a park to determine how to reach our destination
- convert pesos into U.S. dollars (good work on their multiplication skills)
- learn about safe travel in other countries
- learn about public transportation by riding the public bus for local business
- purchase goods in a market where prices are negotiable and learning that it is ok (and sometimes profitable) to walk away from something you really want if the price is not fair for both parties
- hear the Spanish language used in an authentic way
The girls have also been able to enjoy themselves playing in the pools, walking on the beach, ordering drinks from the pool bar, playing on the playground, making t-shirts, doing a piñata and visiting with family.
I think the point I’d emphasize from this trip is that all of life is school and every experience we give our children adds value to their lives. In the experiences that involve traveling, especially to other countries, our hope is that the girls will come to understand that the United States is but one country in a large world and just because we do things one way in America it doesn’t make it the right or only way. Diversity of ideas and lifestyles is what makes the world such a fascinating place and the sooner we can appreciate and accept differences in others the sooner we can find peace in ourselves.
The National Archives “Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom” in Washington D.C. exhibits the most valued documents of our Republic: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights. Although the girls may not yet fully appreciate there value, on our way to Experience 30 of 52, we took a short detour to view these hallowed documents.
On this experience the girls learned the basics behind the documents and saw the originals first hand. They learned:
- The Declaration of Independence announced the 13 American Colonies (which Grace is studying in Social Studies) would form a separate nation apart from Great Britain.
- The Constitution defined the scope of the American government system
- The Bill of Rights explicitly defines the rights that are granted to the citizens of this great country including freedom of the press, of religion, of the right to bear arms and of assembly (and we learned what these are).
This was actually our second trip to see the documents (the other being prior to the start of our 52-in-52 adventure) but the girls were just as patient and willing to wait in line in cold weather before seeing the documents again. They were also just as curious to see if they could read any of the original handwriting or recognize any of the signatures. This reinforces our belief that our 52-in-52 adventure is teaching our girls that learning is living and living is learning. As Gandhi once said, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” We hope that through our continued adventures our gals will enjoy absorbing all that life has to offer them, will appreciate history and will be convinced that living and learning go hand in hand.
This is an interesting article in the NY Times. It talks about childhood traumatic experiences and outcomes in later life. If you didn’t realize the importance of your parenting and providing your children with experiences that have positive influences on their lives then maybe you will after reading the article. It speaks to the reasons why we’re on our 52-in-52 journey: to ensure that the experiences for our children are better than our own. From the article:
“In Paul Tough’s essential book, “How Children Succeed,” he describes what’s going on. Childhood stress can have long lasting neural effects, making it harder to exercise self-control, focus attention, delay gratification and do many of the other things that contribute to a happy life.”