What do kids really learn from a family holiday?

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When I was a young urban professional (remember yuppies?) holidays were all about getting away from the stress of work life.  Warm destinations with swimming pools were popular. So were snowy havens with lots of sporty options. Sometimes there was a bit of office one-upmanship (wouldn’t it be cool to go to INSERT SWANKY DESTINATION).

As a parent, I approach holidays differently. Part of what I look for in a destination is what new experiences will be available to my 9, 10 and 11-year-old (yes, my children were born in consecutive years, that’s not a typo). Will they learn a new skill? Will the holiday broaden their knowledge of the world? Can I get them to try a new food instead of wrinkling their noses at it?

Mastering skiing can lead to confidence. Learning to paddle together on a river rafting trip can bolster teamwork skills. And tucking a little bit of history in the back of your mind can help on that school essay.

As part of the BritMums #Wales4Kids Linky Challenge,  I’ve included few holiday pics where the girls learned something new on hols. Of course I can’t officially enter the competition as I’m a BritMums Founder, but I wanted to share some of our own family holiday experiences.

Last summer, the Modern Family learned all about the extreme sport white water rafting. That's my oldest in the front expressing her joy of mastering a grade III rapid.

Last summer, the Modern Family learned all about the extreme sport white water rafting on a Tributary Whitewater Tour on the American River in Northern California. That’s my oldest in the front expressing her joy at mastering a grade III rapid.


skiing in dodge ridge

That’s my two oldest, just having mastered level 3 skiing after spending most of the day whizzing around the slopes at Dodge Ridge in California’s Sierra Nevada’s. That’s their ski instructor with them.


Here's my youngest, aged 4, learning to swim in San Jose, California. She had been to several swim lessons that year, but it finally clicked for her on this trip.

Here’s my youngest, aged 4, learning to swim in California. She had been to several swim lessons that year, but it finally clicked for her on this trip.


Here's my middle child on a hike in Rancho San Antonio, near San Francisco, learning about wildflowers. Those are California poppies behind here, they are the state flower.

Here’s my middle child on a hike in Rancho San Antonio, near San Francisco, learning about wildflowers. Those are California poppies behind her, the state flower.


This pic was taken on one of our California trip, on a beach in Santa Cruz. It was one of the first times the girls got a kite to stay up for more than 5 minutes. Isn't it high?!

This pic was taken on one of our California trips, on a beach in Santa Cruz. It was one of the first times the girls got a kite to stay up for more than 5 minutes. Isn’t it high?!


learning about WWII

In France, with grandma, learning about WWII. They got to practice their French as well.


And this was just before Christmas, on a weekend trip to London. My youngest, now aged 8, finally got up on ice skates. She was a bit wobbly at first, but when she realised she could ice skate, she was grinning from ear to ear.

What have you learned on holiday? Join the Visit Wales #Wales4Kids Family Holiday Challenge and let us know!

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  1. Sam
    11/03/2014 / 19:31

    Your children have had some fantastic opportunities! I would love to take my two skiing, but we can only afford one holiday a year and I am too much of a sun lover to give up a hot holiday for a cold one! We are in the very early stages of planning a holiday to California and your photos have made me want to go there even more!

  2. 11/03/2014 / 09:23

    Your children are very lucky to be given these opportunities, what wonderful memories of family life you are creating and helping them learn for life in the process. Hard to beat an action packed holiday.

  3. 05/03/2014 / 14:50

    So lovely to read about your children’s adventures and to see those gorgeous faces. My Dad always insisted however financially strapped times were that the family had a holiday every year at least even if that meant him working and mum and the children going on their own with him joining them at weekends. She used to argue for a carpet on the floor and he used to say nope holidays are more important. I think he was right. I think the fact my much older brothers went away a lot when people didn’t from their/our background led them to aspire which then led to them travelling the world in fashion and theatre environments. Wow, longest comment of all time or what?

  4. 27/02/2014 / 18:10

    your holidays photos looks so nice. we need to go on holidays more often.

  5. 26/02/2014 / 23:14

    Great photos and video! Love the white water rafting. Holidays are all about having fun, relaxing and brilliant if you can pick up some new skills along the way! x

    • 27/02/2014 / 08:21

      You’re right, let’s not forget we need a little R&R on our holidays. x

  6. 26/02/2014 / 18:27

    I think holidays are such a great way for children to learn about the world they live in – and that without them realising that they’re learning something new. Of course, it always depends on the type of holiday and the person taking them on holiday, but my parents always found the perfect mix of beach time, hiking, fun and educational excursions to castles, museums, galleries etc

    • 27/02/2014 / 08:22

      Thanks Carolin, and from reading your blog, it sounds like you have the right balance too. x

  7. 26/02/2014 / 17:59

    Oh yes definitely! We probably won’t learn a new skill due to financial constraints but they certainly do learn something new from going to museums, exhibitions and visiting new places.

    • 27/02/2014 / 08:23

      You’re right to point out you don’t have to have a big budget to learn something from excursions. We are so lucky to have wonderful museums in London that are FREE.

  8. 25/02/2014 / 23:20

    ronnie already has a long list of places he wants to go to, one being china! i know!

    • 26/02/2014 / 06:38

      Just think of what you’d learn there …

  9. 25/02/2014 / 21:20

    I think kids sometimes learn more on holiday than they do in school! The trip to France was certainly a better history lessons than they could have got sitting in a stuffy classroom!

    • 26/02/2014 / 06:39

      I agree, and wish that school would be more lenient when it comes to time off during terms breaks. x

  10. 25/02/2014 / 19:00

    I love the look of that water rafting, what a fabulous experience and your daughters are gorgeous, such happy faces. We had a go at the Flow Rider in Cornwall and the girls loved it, more than I thought they would

    • 26/02/2014 / 06:40

      They are now river rafting fans! Absolutely loved it (so did we).

  11. 25/02/2014 / 18:27

    LOVE this post! And you’re SO right. Holidays have now completely changed and I’m all about opening their eyes, ears and minds! I love how excited they are by EVERYTHING! x

    • 27/02/2014 / 08:24

      I wonder if your children will have the same adventure gene as their Blue Petter mum?

  12. 25/02/2014 / 17:40

    It’s so lovely when they learn something new on holiday, it makes it that bit more memorable from them

    • 27/02/2014 / 08:24

      …and make mum and dad smile…

  13. 25/02/2014 / 17:14

    Fab photos, that rafting looks awesome! I think when you’re a kid, as long as you approach things with the right mindset, almost everything’s a learning opportunity, especially when away from home.

    • 27/02/2014 / 08:27

      That’s a nice way to look at it. x

  14. 25/02/2014 / 14:27

    Oh I love these photos! The rafting looks incredible! I’m so excited mine are just now at the age where we can try new exciting things and I’m so looking forward to learning along with them!

    • 27/02/2014 / 08:28

      The rafting WAS incredible. We want to go back.

  15. Jenny
    25/02/2014 / 14:20

    Hmm, what have we learned on holiday?? The it takes a lot longer to cook anything on camping gas and that buying wetsuits for the whole family (even if I do look like a beached whale) was the best thing we ever did!

    • 27/02/2014 / 08:29

      Wet suits do make a difference. We stayed at a hotel in Cornwall recently, and they let us borrow them. The kids loved it. I of course did not attempt getting in one.

  16. Mammasaurus
    25/02/2014 / 13:49

    Ah such lovely holiday memories they have to look back on! We learn things every holiday we go on – from new things to eat and see to lessons of what not to do again or to do better next time round!

    • 27/02/2014 / 08:30

      Lessons of what not to do again … I’m sure there’s a story in there somewhere…

  17. 25/02/2014 / 12:58

    p.s my brother in law lives in California, i can’t wait to take my boys when they are a little older as its such a fabulous place.

  18. 25/02/2014 / 12:56

    Great photos, especially the third and fourth ones of your girls. It sounds weird but they just capture everything that is good about being a kid. When i think of my own childhood its always summer, we are swimming or running about in the country with tousled hair 🙂

    • 27/02/2014 / 08:31

      You MUST go. Let me know if you do I and I can give you some tips.

    • 27/02/2014 / 08:32

      That made me smile (plucky).

  19. 25/02/2014 / 09:41

    I agree totally – our holidays are all about giving the kids new experiences, and helping them to learn new things…which is why we are going ski-ing soon! 😀

    • 27/02/2014 / 08:32

      Ooohhhh, have a FAB time.

  20. 25/02/2014 / 09:32

    Holidays are a GREAT opportunity to learn about the world and broaden your horizons! Love that they picked up some skills on the way too!