Kirsten Maxwell on Read With You Presents
Kirsten Maxwell- Kids are a Trip
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From Phoenix AZ, lives in Chicago, two degrees in Spanish and Elementary Ed. Taught Spanish before she had kids. After having kids, she decided to stay home and substitute teach, and then had two more boys, now age 15, 13 and 11. They always travelled with them. They wanted travel to be educational. Studied abroad in Spain during college and enforced that she wanted to travel. For their honeymoon, she and her husband travelled to 14 cities, and knew they wanted to continue travelling when they had kids.
Went overseas when their baby was 9 months old and went to England, Scotland and Wales. Dove right into it. At age 6, 4 and two, took all three kids overseas. Looking back, they could have left some of them at home. It’s easier without the young kids, but you want that whole family component. It’s important to find the right balance for each family.
Started with an easy country, England where they speak the language, not somewhere really exotic.
Travel is an education. As a teacher, I think that you get great lessons inside the classroom, but if you can expose your children to the world we live in, can make such an impression. For us, it’s taking them out of the bubble and seeing that not everyone lives like us. We can go to a farm and it’s a totally different world. That’s part of the reason we travel- the world is bigger than what we know in our daily life.
I can take my kids into areas of Chicago that are culturally different than where we live. We can go to Chinatown and experience different cultures and different foods, and they can experience something totally different than what they are getting.
We took the kids to Rome and my son was learning about Roman history at the time. For him to be able to come to class and have seen that and share that with his classmates is an experience that you can’t put a price tag on. I took my boys to the Dominican Republic. We worked with kids there to improve their English. Then we went out side and played baseball, and my kids learned so many lessons from that experience. The social and emotional component of travel, it goes beyond, they connect on a deeper level.
We didn’t used to talk to people as much, when the kids were younger we had to stay focused on them. As they’ve gotten older, we ask questions and seek local help. It makes for a well rounded travel experience. If I’m comfortable, I ask questions and encourage my kids to ask questions. It also depends on how long you’re staying there.
We learned how to deal with “hanger” we always have snacks. You have to always make sure they’re well fed. My kids can do anything with a little food bribery involved. Our youngest has a food allergy, and that was difficult in the beginning, but we use allergy translation cards. Using those is very helpful and eating basic foods. Being a family of 5 is a challenge. It gets expensive to travel with a family of 5. I have to do a lot of research.
A website called sleeps5.com is a good resource for families. To keep costs down, we use loyalty cards and points. Also credit card points and hoteltonight.com, travelzoo.com, groupon.com, all of those are good for discounted prices.
Traveling with kids- when you start off, you don’t want to bother other people. I learned that you’re never going to see those people again. So who cares? It might be uncomfortable, but you aren’t going to see them again, so get over it. You are giving your kids such an amazing opportunity no matter where you go. Anything you can do with your kids to teach them other than what they see on a daily basis. Give them educational context, go to the library, teach language, have food from that country.