First published by theAsianparent
Having the ability to travel to distant lands is something that we often take for granted. This is especially true in an era when it takes two taps to set up a group call between multiple continents while at the same time preparing breakfast for the kids before they head off to school.
It makes one wonder if this generation of kids will be even harder to impress having grown up surrounded by rapidly evolving technology— and who can say how that will change over the next five, ten or twenty years?
This constantly changing technology is one of the main reasons that soft skills are now more important than ever in raising well-rounded children. Just look at your own academic and career trajectory; chances are the technologies you studied in university are no longer at the forefront of their industries. However, the soft skills you honed during those years like communication, perseverance and teamwork are the tools that have helped you succeed as an adult.
This is why travelling with your kids is an invaluable experience. Besides giving them the chance to see into the lives and cultures of unfamiliar people and places, it provides parents with the opportunity to build these crucial soft skills in a way that’s fun and engaging and so more beneficial to your kids than a more conventional learning environment.
Don’t give up, even if it gets hard!
As much as mums and dads want to protect their children from any hardship, it is crucial for children to learn that not everything in life is a walk in the park!
A family hike is a challenging and rewarding way to teach your kids about perseverance. There are several components to a successful family hike. The route needs to be sufficiently challenging without being impassable for the weakest hiker in your family (which be honest, may just be mum or dad!). There needs to be more to look at along the route than just trees and rocks. And finally, it helps if you have a specific goal in mind.
The Redwoods in New Zealand’s Whakarewarewa Forest is such a place where you can plan such a hike for your family. Use the trail guides to plan a route that will be fun but challenging for you and your kids. During the hike, if they complain about being too tired or bored, encourage them to persevere with the promise that something amazing awaits them at the end.
Athletic pursuits also teach kids dedication and perseverance. Children who enjoy being active will rise to the challenge of learning a new sport but may hesitate or even give up if it requires skills that differ from their current skill set. While travelling, introduce your kids to the local sports; not only will they need to learn a new set of rules and movements, if you’re in a country with a native language different to your own, they’ll need to get creative with their communication skills as well! For example, on a trip to Japan, enroll your kids to spend an afternoon doing Kendo, a form of fencing, or Aikido, a non-physical martial art.
We work stronger together than alone
It is important for kids to have good teamwork and cooperation skills. These skills help children with their social development and play a significant role in how their peers view them and interact with them. Look for activities that are done collaboratively during your travels and encourage your children to develop these skills.
A popular activity while travelling is participating in group cooking classes. Mums and dads, you should definitely look for these classes, especially while travelling in Thailand where recipes are easy to follow and the local cuisines are delicious!
Cooking classes help children with problem-solving skills as they consider how to best measure and combine the ingredients and working together in small groups inspires teamwork and even camaraderie when teams are vying against each other to make the best dish in the class. Try a cooking class in Chiang Mai, a city in northern Thailand where the food is completely different from the traditional Thai dishes we eat outside of Thailand.
The fine art of communication
There is no better way to boost your children’s communication skills than travelling in countries where your family does not speak the local language. Encourage your children to think of creative ways to communicate with the locals when spoken language is not available as a medium of communication. Not only will this help develop their nonverbal communication and problem-solving skills, it’ll make for some funny stories when you all sit down together later on! It’s one thing to act out your request for a glass of water, but just try asking for a napkin or cutlery, or heaven forbid the washroom, without being able to speak.
When you’re planning your trip, go online and learn basic phrases with your kids and challenge each other to use them during your trip. When you return from your trip, quiz each other to see who has become the most proficient in this new language. These basic phrases combined with having fun using them while travelling create the building blocks for your kids to have an interest in learning new languages in the future.
Plan a trip to Seoul, South Korea and start learning to read the alphabet together. It may look difficult at first, but Hangul is written with a phonetic alphabet meaning and you can learn it really quickly! Show your kid some examples of Korea’s vibrant pop culture and they’ll be addicted to learning Hangul in no time!
The development of these soft skills is crucial for children to grow up into successful, well-adjusted adults. By strengthening these skills through travel, you and your family are making unforgettable memories that you’ll cherish forever. Furthermore, by giving your kids the opportunity to travel, you’re giving them the confidence that comes with tackling new challenges and experiences.