The two weeks surrounding Christmas and New Year are a unique time of the year in the U.S. After several months of homework, tests, and classes, most American children put away their school books for a different kind of education. During winter break, American families spend their time exposing their children to experiences outside the classroom. In fact, many families spend months deciding on how to spend winter break, and more months planning the actual details of these trips, trying to squeeze out every possible moment of adventure, education, or relaxation. Here are some of the places we like to travel for “edutainment” along with a book recommendation for your vacationing child.
When it’s cold in most of America, many U.S. families will escape to the domestic beaches of Florida or more international sites, like Acalpulco, Mexico, Jamaica, or even. Leah said her young family with three kids 6 and under loves nothing more than escaping the cold for a good beach vacation: “My kids spend all day completely exhausting themselves in the sun and water.” It’s a good change from the ice and snow, and a way for parents to enjoy some “realaxing” under the sun. Fun Book For the Beach: Pete the Cat: Pete at the Beach by James Dean.
There is a reason that Disney’s busiest week is the one between Christmas and New Year’s. People flock to Orlando’s Disney World and Anaheim’s Disney Land to celebrate their winter holidays with Mickey, Minnie and tens of thousands of other visitors. For Andrea, fighting the crowds is worth maintaining their family tradition “for my kids and my grandkids.” Fun Book for Disney: Disney’s Junior Encyclopedia of Animated Characters by M.L. Dunham.
Skiing is a pastime enjoyed by over 11 million people in the U.S. every year. This is what my family does on our winter break. My kids love skiing. My husband and I like skiing, but love the idea of having our kids spend their vacation in a healthy way. It’s a trip that has our family spending time together all day, and it’s a life sport that our children can enjoy for decades to come. Fun Book for Skiing: Ski Tips for Kids: Fun Instructional Techniques with Cartoons by Mike Clelland.
The road trip to Grandma’s House! Spending Christmas and New Years with family in another state, be it a hundred or a thousand miles away, is a tradition that goes back as far as the popularization of the automobile. Families will pile into their relatives’ homes, so that generations can celebrate together. Melissa had ten relatives staying in her home during Christmas week: “I love everyone together, but all the food and sheets and noise definitely create a chaos. I’m happy to have everyone visit, and happy to have everyone go home!” Fun Book for the Road Trip: National Geographic Kids Ultimate U.S. Road Trip by Crispin Boyer.
Because many people cannot afford to go away or because they realize how utterly exhausting traveling can be with young children, there are also activities for those homebound during the holidays. When not visiting relatives in Korea, Amy likes to keep her two boys busy with activities during the winter break. For her, enrolling the boys in chess camp for half of the vacation is a productive way of using their time off: “My kids have a great time, and they’re actually spending time on something useful that they otherwise don’t have time for.” Other winter camps include ice skating camps at local rinks, gymnastics camps, and even coding camps for our computer-minded kids. Fun book for the Stay-cation: The Everything Kids’ Astronomy Book by Kathi Wagner.
Whether you choose to go away on vacation or stay at home, options abound for the U.S. vacation, from classrooms to the mountains to the deserts to the seas.
Happy Holidays and Safe Travels!