Educational Bribery

Child with globe, Educational, Learning

When we take the time to learn about a destination, it helps us appreciate our trip. I often regret (thanks to pre-departure chaos) that I don’t invest more time teaching my kids about our destinations. I’m usually cramming it in during the trip or spouting, “Did you knows?” afterward.

While raising his family of travelers, my father-in-law was wiser than I. When his children were young, he worked in Japan. Thanks to his efforts, connections, and a few military perks, he was able to take the whole family on a series of trips to nearby countries and islands. Before these adventures, he would challenge the kids to learn as much as they could about their destination. And get this:

He paid them money for their knowledge!

Everything they earned as a reward could be spent on souvenirs or special treats during the trip. This motivated his kids to write reports, learn foreign phrases, and study maps.

The budget for this motivation doesn’t have to be large; in today’s dollars, my father-in-law was handing out the equivalent of around $20 per kid. How much you pay and what they will learn depends on the ages of the children. My five-year-old can make $5 last a week.  The budgeting lessons she learns along the way are a bonus.

If you’re preparing for a trip, here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Identify the place on a map or globe
  • Watch a documentary
  • Check out a book from the library
  • Read a book from the library
  • Write a one-page report on what you learned
  • Draw a picture of an activity you want to do while traveling
  • Make a collage of what you think the destination will look like
  • Make a Powerpoint presentation (my oldest would be all over this one)
  • Learn a song that is special to the destination or specific to the language
  • Look at images from the destination
  • Interview someone who has lived or traveled there
  • Have your child write and answer five questions that interest her

As a result of all this positive bribery, my husband and his siblings grew up hungry for knowledge. (John really likes Japanese candy, so he had to earn a lot of cash.) He still remembers so much from those early trips, and his travels shaped the way he learns. Because he often knows the answer, I reflexively turn to him when I have a question. Apparently, this can be a little annoying.  “Am I your encyclopedia?” he responds. And I say, “Yes.” And then I think I should pay myself for interviewing someone who knows more than me, because I like candy too.


One response to “Educational Bribery

  1. says:

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