We travel a lot. We have three young (5 and under) kids, and we take them everywhere we have the opportunity to go. Want to know the #1 thing I hear when I tell people we take our kids to Disney World every year? “They won’t even remember it.”
They’re right (up until about age 3), but guess what? That’s ok with me.
Kids Can Learn in Disney!
It’s not a waste of my money. Want to know why?
Just because kids can’t recall every experience they’ve had prior to age 5, doesn’t mean they haven’t learned a great deal. And I’m not saying that you need to pay for a trip to Disney World to ‘educate‘ your kids, I’m simply saying that ‘remembering’ does not equal learning, as we know, most of early learning is experiential.
Toddlers learn constantly in many ways, but the key methods in which they learn are:
- Through watching and observing things that are going around them, in the home and when out and about.
- Through listening to conversations between family members, old and young, and when out and about.
Here’s what my kids, babies included, learn in Disney World.
1. How to travel. They know the ins and outs of airports and airplanes. They possess the social skills for how to behave in these types of settings, and are exposed to a number of people and cultures. You don’t need to remember facts to soak in all of that information.
2. How to handle stimulation. The sights, sounds, smells of a large theme park can be completely overwhelming. I can’t last a days in the park without the crowds and the business getting to me. What do we as adults do when overstimulated? We ask for a break, take a deep breath, we cope. We learn how to handle the stimulation, kids do too.
3. Social skills. SO.MANY.SOCIAL.SKILLS. Waiting in line. Saying hello and goodbye. Meeting new people. Turn-taking. The list goes on. My kids all start every trip looking away from strangers on the bus, and end by telling them their life story. They have stranger danger, and sometimes know when it’s appropriate not to talk, but I think being able to engage with those around us is a wonderful skill.
4. A leap in cognitive development. As babies, with every trip we take, we notice a major leap in cognitive development as the week progresses. What I mean by this, is the expression of new words, learning new songs, understanding new processes. Maybe it’s coincidence, maybe not. All I know, is that literally watching your child learn skills and express personality at a rapid pace is exciting.
5. Negotiation, selflessness, and ‘how to deal’. I’m not really sure how else to put that one. When traveling as a family, there is just not way to please everyone. We try to come close, making the trip as smooth as possible with minimal meltdowns, but everybody’s gotta give somewhere. While not always easy to deal with, everyone learns that sometimes we just have to work together to decide what and how to do things. As the kids get older, they express preferences that might be less desireable to other members of the family, but we work together, we negotiate, and we make it work.
Do you need a trip to Disney World for your child to learn these things? Absolutely not. A trip to the park, zoo or museum might give them the same experiences. But a waste of money spending time as a family in the happiest place on earth? Not in my book.
Planning a trip to Disney World with kids? Grab this printable checklist of my Disney must-haves!
Images from DepositPhoto: Snow White Greeting Visitor, Mickey Mouse in Magic Kingdom Orlando and Disney Magic Kingdom
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Great artical. We love taking our kids with is everywhere! We have not ventured onto a plan yet but I’m hoping soon