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Taking Flight with your Child and Surviving!

by Joe Lawrence | May 18th, 2016 | Elementary, Seasonal

inside planeThe finish line is in sight for our children. School is almost out for the summer and for many that means vacation time. There is planning around every detail of the trip; however, many do not think about the actual plane ride itself. This moment of forced containment can be miserable on an elementary tyke if you are not prepared.

I learned this on a trip from South Carolina to Ohio a couple of summers back. My daughter is not one to ever sit still and is always looking for something new to do. We thought ahead and brought her iPad on the plane, but did not take into account we were not allowed to turn it on until we reached altitude. Now, many airlines have amended this policy in the past year and will allow devices throughout the whole flight as long as they are in airplane mode.

These 20 minutes up to 10,000 feet and the 25 minute long approach was an eternity for her to do nothing. The magazines in the back of the seat lost their luster after about 5 minutes. It did help that I have been working on and flying with airplanes for almost 18 years and could explain to her what the noises were and even some pretty basic principles of flight. However, that only took up another 10 minutes or so.

It was a rough trip on my patience, but I was able to learn from my lesson for the return flight. This time around we brought her little backpack and filled it with notebooks, crayons and anything else we could get our hands on. We made it much more tolerable on the return, but I do not like to operate in pure panic mode on a routine basis.

After some reflection, the best way to get through a long flight with any child is to keep their minds engaged. I like to offer a puzzle or activity book to allow them to flex their mental muscles. Throw in a book about where you are going so they can learn something about the place before you even get there, and then they can feel empowered with some knowledge.

Then pack some of their favorite snacks and a notebook. I like to give my daughter a blank slate and see what she can do when her imagination kicks in. Sometimes she writes a story or challenges me to a game of tic tac toe. Although, most of the time she does come up with some very creative drawings and even invents some new character that she continues to draw long after the trip is over.

There are lots of low-tech or even no-tech solutions to keeping our child engaged during a flight. You know your child and need to prep them for the trip so at the end of the initial leg you are not dreading the remainder of the vacation!

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