Stimulating Your Child's Growth Through RV Travel
Stimulating Your Child’s Growth Through RV Travel
From language expansion to skill development, life on the road has many learning opportunities.
By: Brittany & Eric Highland
As adults, we see the rich and interesting differences between ourselves and the people we know. Why should our children be different? They possess strengths and quirks we celebrate as parents and confront challenges we encourage them through.
At one-day-old, we brought our son Caspian back from the hospital to his home on wheels. His first home was a Class A diesel RV, and we've since moved into a Winnebago View 24J. Through full-time travel -- the only life now two-year-old Caspian has ever known -- we've seen first-hand how RV travel stimulates his growth.
Mid-way point of what would be Caspian's first one-mile hike, unaided.
As a parent, you may question whether travel is right for your children. Only you can answer that question, but my goal is to encourage and empower you through my own observations as a parent.
Here are five ways I believe children grow through travel, and specifically RV travel.
1. RV Travel Promotes Language Growth
Developmentally, children learn language by listening and interacting with those speaking to them. Our little nomad has dedicated attention from my husband and me, and we're constantly talking to him about our everyday experiences and including him in our conversations.
Rather than a constant monologue, we give him space to chime in. We also ask him open-ended questions that require him to mentally generate a response (even if he doesn't yet know the words to express his thoughts). A simple example would be to ask, "What color is the horse?" rather than, "Is the horse black?"
Learning to communicate is one thing, but travel is powerfully effective in expanding a child's vocabulary. Strangers are astonished to hear our tiny tot spout the six-syllable phrase, "Chattanooga Choo-Choo," but Caspian excitedly picked it up with the famous train under his feet. Through travel, our children confront complex concepts and historical names years before the typical introduction in sixth-grade social studies.
Marveling at Biblioteca Palafoxiana in Puebla, Mexico, considered the oldest library in the Americas.
2. RV Travel Fosters Integrated Learning
The more of our five senses we utilize while learning, the more likely we are to retain what we're learning. I'm a self-confessed bibliophile who loves to learn through reading. But even I would rather transport my child to an environment where he can hear the birds, touch the clay, smell the rain, and taste the regional cuisine.
One of the aspects I look forward to as Caspian enters his school years is wrapping reading, writing, history, science, and art around one topic. As we study Native American history, I want him to be in New Mexico's Chaco Canyon studying astronomy and water control, journaling about the culture, and sketching the historical artifacts. Not to mention tapping into the extensive knowledge of the rangers on-site, who are specifically equipped to answer his questions.
Chaco Canyon is just one of 419 units administered by the National Park Service! The integrated learning opportunities are endless within our amazing country.
Touching rocks at a national park in Utah.
3. RV Travel Naturally Strengthens People Skills
A common concern among parents considering RV travel is how their children will make friends and strengthen social skills. After more than five years of full-time RV travel, I've found RV kids to be among the friendliest and most respectful out there.
When it comes to Caspian, he doesn't know a stranger. Because we're always on the move, we're constantly meeting people. He has no problem embracing new friends because it's become normal for him. In fact, he often intimidates children his age and older when he walks up to them, ready to be friends and play.
Beyond accidental meetings, there are organizations that specifically cater to RV families. For example, Fulltime Families is a membership organization that hosts rallies, teaches workshops, and ultimately provides resources to families on the road. As the RV demographic becomes younger, I think we'll see even more organizations like that.
Ready to meet new friends at a Jeep meetup.
4. RV Travel Develops Life Skills
Flat tire. Power outage. Wrong turn. For all its bright moments, RV travel isn't for the faint of heart. In order to enjoy the matchless life experiences, we need to endure the hurdles along the way.
By confronting challenges with your children, you have the opportunity to live out your values and teach life skills. Along with his friendliness, I constantly tell people how flexible Caspian is. Whether we're dry camping at 24 degrees or off-roading in Moab, nothing phases him. As we confront curveballs, he watches us. Mommy and Daddy are keeping their cool and sense of humor? Then everything is okay.
Blanket and snack after a swim at Glacier National Park in Montana.
5. RV Travel Provides a Stable Environment for Learning
Our children are strong - capable of so much more than we often give them credit for. But after a long day of exploring, it's comforting for them to return to a familiar environment. Outside the RV door, the scenery is constantly changing. Inside the RV door, Caspian has his pillows, book basket, toy drawer, and snacks in the pantry.
Our RV is a safe, stable, familiar place to process everything we see and do. It's a unique facet of this mode of travel, unlike any other.
When we get home to the RV, it's a familiar, safe environment for processing everything we've seen.
Stimulating Your Child's Growth Through RV Travel
After two years of full-time RV travel with Caspian, I am thrilled by the positive impact this lifestyle is having on him, and more excited than ever to witness how his life unfolds. Seeing the country through his eyes is a priceless gift, and my personal experiences are enhanced with him by my side.
Always learning, this time during a hike at Zion National Park.
I can't say this lifestyle is right for everyone. But if you're on the fence, I can't encourage you enough to give RV travel a try. With opportunities for language expansion, integrated learning, socializing, and life skill development - all in a stable, familiar environment - RV travel has a lot to offer any family.