Labor Day road trips offer great, dip-toes-back-into-schoolwork time

Make marvelous memories over the long weekend AND get kids primed and prepped for a new school year by plugging them into creative learning apps and gifting them with colorful flash cards and workbooks.

Smarter Travel reports that Airlines for America, a U.S. airline industry trade group, predicts 16.1 million passengers will fly over this holiday period between August 30 and September 5, a 5% increase over last year. What about road trips? Last year AAA stopped issuing Labor Day highway travel forecasts, letting traditionally higher-travel holidays be a prediction priority; though the tragic situation on the Texas Gulf Coast will likely bring nationwide spikes in gas prices, we can surmise that many families will still venture somewhere for a daytrip, long weekend, and/or last hurrah to summer. Time spent en route by whatever means can be used to help power up a fast takeoff for kids’ schoolwork this year.

Too often, it’s more of a backward glide. Back in 2013 “Summer Learning Loss Study: Can ‘Summer Slide’ Be Prevented?” by Rebeccca Klein, writing for Parents, reports results from a National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) survey of 500 teachers, which “found that 66 percent teachers have to spend three to four weeks re-teaching students course material at the beginning of the year, while 24 percent of teachers spend at least five to six weeks re-teaching material from the previous school year.”

Conceivably, it would be easy to think “OK, that’s unfortunate and seems somewhat like a waste of time, but if everyone is in the same spot, why does it matter?” As the Very Well website points out in the article by Amanda Morin, “4 Reasons Kids Are Bored in School,” we want to avoid kids being under-challenged, under-motivated, under-connected (a social context), or under-skilled, and laments of boredom can signal any or all these realities. Boredom, in turn, can lead to distress, avoidance, and “school refusal behaviors.”

Of course, different kids learn best in different ways. For kids 3-7, consider a Little Scholar® learning tablet, to help prepare them for pre-K through first grade, using a variety of songs, books, games, and more—even the 13-episode original preschool series Charlie & Company. Through September 1, save $15 and get a free Charlie plush toy with the tablet purchase.

Or take a peek at Anywhere Teacher, an online learning destination that connects children ages 2-8 with powerful online learning wherever they are–anywhere, anytime, on virtually any device. Give your child access to limitless learning and fun with Anywhere Teacher! Try Anywhere Teacher free and access 28 educational activities, with content that rotates monthly. Or subscribe to access ALL the educational content and customize each child's experience—even an entire classroom of kids.

Workbooks remain a perennial learning favorite, and with good reason: they are super for zeroing on specific skills, whether preparing little ones for school success or helping older kids get extra practice in areas where they are struggling.

Falling into a similar category of time-tested are flash cards, but today's clever versions, for example, Bedtime Alphabet Night-Time Learning Interactive Flash Cards, Animal Alphabet Pop-Up Flash Cards, and Math 3-4 Flash Card 4-Pack, make them gold-standard learning tools.

Let’s not forget that teachable moments come in many shapes and forms. “Getting Kids Ready for School with PBS Kids” advises moms and dads to “Nurture your child’s natural curiosity. Allow your child to chase a butterfly or watch a hermit crab peep out of its shell.” This page also offers parents a grade-by-grade, generalized learning guide that helps parents know which skills are especially important at which ages.

The Labor Day holiday can be a time to reinforce that the “work” of learning can come in many forms of joyful play.