Summer travel can provide a learning experience

Published: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 3:07 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 3:07 p.m.

Learning beyond the classroom should be a part of every child’s experience. The classroom offers a structured environment that teaches subject matter as well as discipline.

At an early age, children are introduced to this setting as a way for teachers to train the whole child in an orderly fashion. As parents, we expect this regimen and welcome the process. To educate a child today, as we know, takes both the teacher and the parent working together in harmony.

Home is a place where parents can reinforce what the child has learned during the school day. Throughout the school year, this process becomes part of the child’s world. Anything beyond the school day and parents should enrich their children’s education by exposing them to field trips right here in our own city and surrounding areas.

There are so many things to enjoy here in Gainesville, such as our public libraries, Devil’s Millhopper, Dudley Farm, Harn Museum, Sante Fe Zoo, springs, lakes, and the Hippodrome Theatre.

If traveling out of the city is within your budget, then I suggest an educational trip for the family summer vacation, places where children can dream and explore new adventures. These experiences will enhance their minds and the way they view America.

As a child growing up, I remember my parents insisting that we have new experiences for the summer by taking us to places we had never been before. Mom and Dad made sure that we saw parts of the United States that we could identify with from our history and geography lessons.

Those trips taught us and helped us to better understand the world in which we lived. These trips offered us great educational awareness and opportunities to see the various historical sites within the United States.

Travel was reinforcement of what we were taught in the classroom. Our travels gave us clarity and understanding of the important landmarks in America. Discovery of the places we visited was filled with excitement. After our trips, I could not wait for the fall school year to start because I wanted to share my travel experiences with all my friends.

Summer after summer, we looked forward to the next place Dad wanted us to see. I realize that every family may not have the opportunities my family experienced, but certainly any family trip to a city nearby could prove to be a treasure in the eyes of a child. I considered my family to be very fortunate, and I am grateful for those travel experiences.

For families who are considering a vacation this summer, allow me to recommend some nearby places to visit. At the top of my list are cities like St. Augustine, Savannah, Ga., Atlanta, Chattanooga, Tenn., Montgomery, Ala., or even Tallahassee.

There is so much to see in these cities. A school-age child would be thrilled at seeing Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or HBCUs, aquariums, civil rights landmarks, state capitols, and also learning about the intricate interstate highway system.

I think every travel experience has huge learning benefits. In my years of study, I have read about the countries in Europe dating back to medieval period. This summer, my wife and I will travel to Europe to see all of the places that we have read about and taught about in our classrooms.

Both of us were history teachers in the Alachua County school system. The countries we will visit include France, Switzerland, Spain, Italy and England. The excitement of this upcoming trip reminds me of my childhood travel experiences with my parents. The sights and landmarks we have read about for so many years will finally now come to life for us.

To all of my readers, let me encourage you to open the wonders of the world for your children through travel. Your budget may not allow you to travel far distances, but look around the city and other nearby places for your children to experience new opportunities for growth.

Have a safe trip and enjoy your summer.

Philoron A. Wright Sr. is assistant to the superintendent of community and schools for Alachua County Public Schools.

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