In my quest to give my children a childhood full of wonder and magic, I have learned to be deliberate about their experiences whenever I can. Instead of just thrusting them to a sea of unknowns and allowing them to be fearful of what comes next, I choose to prepare them, even in the smallest of ways.
Our recent trip afforded Little T her “second first time” to ride a plane. She was too young to remember the real first time, so I treated this as if it were. Similar to our road trip to Baguio City where we learned about zigzags, strawberries, and pine trees, Little T, Baby Boy and I immersed ourselves in the world of airplanes a few weeks before our trip.
We watched airplanes go by
We regularly see airplanes flying by. “Eh-plen” is actually one of Baby Boy’s first words! As we watched an airplane go in and out of clouds, Little T and I would imagine where it came from and where it was going.
We read books
The Glorious Flight by Alice Provensen – a Five in a Row book about Louis Bleriot, the first man to fly across the English Channel
Going on a Plane – an Usborne First Experiences book, Going on a Plane illustrates all the different steps people go through when riding an airplane. This served as a wonderful primer for Little T who was thrilled to see a metal detector and an x-ray machine in the airport just like the ones in this book.
We sang an airplane song
From my days watching Barney with my niece a long time ago, I taught Little T and Baby Boy the Airplane Song and we zoomed around like planes.
We pretended to go on a plane trip
I set up some chairs and pretended that I was the flight attendant and Little T and Baby Boy were the passengers. I had them check in their luggage too! Pretend play increased our excitement level and Little T frequently re-played this activity.
We watched the clouds go by
To let my children fully experience the trip, I did not bring “distractions” for them. We did not have books, games, or gadgets with us on the plane.I just let Little T’s eyes roam around to take it all in. I let her watch the clouds go by.
Her natural curiosity led to questions I was only too glad to try to answer: what are life vests for?, why are there lights on the wing of the airplane? where is the pilot? why did the plane tilt?
I believe that preparation is essential for children to enjoy and fully engage with something new, especially something that is so far away from home.