Packing for a Family Vacation - Teaching Young Children (This could be a project worked on over several days so give yourself time.)
- Advance preparation - Some parents of younger children have used a digital camera to take pictures of the things that are important to pack for a trip creating a pictorial check list. The child can circle things when they are packed. But for older children, one family checklist of general things everyone should can be used by all.
- Modelling: The parent then uses the check list for themselves as they make a big production about packing. They let their child overhear them say things like, "I always make a list when I travel. I forget the silliest things sometimes. What if I forgot my toothbrush? My teeth would be dirty and I'd have a stinky mouth? What if I forgot my clothes? I'd have to go naked or wear dirty clothes! That would be embarrassing! But I'm not worried -I have my list."
- Ask for Assistance: "Would you help me check if I have everything? If I forget something would you tell me so I can put it on my list?" A smart parent might make sure they have forgotten something big that the child might notice like a toothbrush or pants. It's also good to make the time you spend on this short and fun and thank them for their help. (One dad made sure he let his child overhear him telling someone later what a big help they were on the packing project.)
- Offer Assistance. "Sometimes parents pack for their kids but I think you're big enough to pack on your own. Do you think you need a list? Do you want to use mine? " This is a great time to ask questions like, "I think maybe children's checklists might be different than parent's check lists... what would be different?"
- Teaching kids to do their own packing is great. Just be prepared for some mishaps when you have gotten to the point where you turn over packing to them completely. They'll have some great opportunities to learn from their mistakes and you can be ready with a problem solving technique to empower them.
7th grade son: Mom, I forgot underwear.
Mom: Well that's never good. I guess that got missed on your check list. How are you going to handle that?
7th grade son: I don't know.
Mom: Would you like to know what some other kid's have tried?
7th grade son: I guess.
Mom: Some kids wear yesterday's underwear until their mom can take them to a store to buy some clean stuff. Some kids borrow underwear from their dad until their mom can get to a store with them. Some kids just wash out the pair they have every night and hang it up to dry in the shower so they can wear clean undies the next say.
7th grade son: Dad's are way too big but at least they're clean.
Mom: Okay. We'll look for a store after breakfast. How do you plan to pay for them?
(Okay I know this is a whole other lesson but after all if you forgot your undies you'd have to buy your own. Real world consequences are what we're after here. By the way, some 7th grade boys will never tell their parents about this little issue and go without. It's one of those growing up things that horrifies moms. )