Traveling with Kids, Parenting Mistakes, Language, and Fish!

Winter break has come and gone but the nightmarish memory of traveling with your children is still as fresh and as painful as ever. Can spring break be far behind? Yikes.

Come spring, you’ll want to be prepared. Katie, a speech and language pathologist who blogs at Playing With Words, offers up these 50 Ways to Keep Your Toddler or Preschooler Busy on a Plane (or Elsewhere).

Traveling Games

The bad news is that most of the ideas here for keeping kids busy while traveling, are impractical (to say the least). Playing with Play-Doh on a commercial airline? Not. Good. We don’t think the airline will appreciate getting bits of modeling clay ground into the carpet. (Those folding trays are awfully small.)

The very first idea on Katie’s list, on the other hand, is wonderfully educational. Travel Tickets are tickets you can print out and cut into individual tokens. Give your child a bag of the paper tickets and instruct her to hand one ticket over every half an hour (or whatever predetermined time period you decide on) until all the tickets are gone. This game helps orient your child to the true length of the trip.

girl on plane plays traveling game

Handling tickets makes it a kind of kinesthetic learning or learning by touch. Since children can also see the tickets, it’s also a visual way to understand how time passes during as they travel. Travel Tickets, in other words, is a multisensory learning experience that keeps children engaged over a long period of time.

Parenting Mistakes

While the Huffington Post blogging platform is no more, we’re happy we can still access evergreen pieces like Kari Kubiszyn Kampakis’ 10 Common Mistakes Parents Today Make (Me Included). Four years later it remains a darned good list.

We totally related to Mistake #10: Worshipping Our Children, as all of us here have kid-centric homes. Kubiszyn Kampakis makes the point that we’d do better to take the focus off of our children. By taking the focus away from children and toward the family as a whole, parents can encourage children to be selfless rather than selfish.

We might have added yet another parenting mistake to the author’s list: Overpraising Children. When we tell children that everything they do is wonderful, they end up with an unrealistic inflated sense of self. (We’ve seen it. It’s not pretty. Especially when said children grow up.)

Preschool Language Skills

Do you have preschoolers at home? The best way to prepare them for school is to let them hear and experiment with all sorts of sounds. Our advice? Don’t just read to them but make rhymes and even silly noises together.

But of course, some people just have a remarkable talent for languages. Others, meantime, fake it ’til they make it. Here’s someone who has mastered the art of faking it.

Sarah’s not actually speaking any real languages, of course. But she does have a remarkable facility for mimicking sound impressions. The sounds you heard in the clip were based on various languages she heard during while traveling around the world.

We suggest you play Sarah’s video for your children and then practice fake-talking in various languages together. It’s fun. And believe it or not, it’s a great way to hone your child’s pre-reading skills.

Eat More Fish = Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Do you worry about your child getting enough sleep? Is your child struggling to keep up in school? It may be she needs to eat more fish.


Of course, if your child hates fish and doesn’t mind swallowing capsules, you can just have her can chug down fish oil capsules to improve the quantity and quality of sleep she’s getting. That’s according to a study out of Oxford University in the UK.

Children aged 7-9 years judged as both poor sleepers and struggling readers were given Omega-3 supplements or a placebo for 4 months. Getting more omega-3 fats in their diets did the trick—helping them sleep better and improve their reading scores in school.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published March 6, 2014, and has been completely revised and updated for accuracy and scope.

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About Varda Epstein

Varda Meyers Epstein serves as editor in chief of Kars4Kids Parenting. A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Varda is the mother of 12 children and is also a grandmother of 12. Her work has been published in The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, The Learning Site, The eLearning Site, and Internet4Classrooms.