Updated: Aug 24
Are you one of those parents who takes their kids to the zoo to watch a few animals and call it a day? We've all been there and done that.
Do you worry about taking time away from the books to do something that seems to be just fun? Field trips can be a valuable part of your homeschool schedule.
Here are facts to ease your mind about field trips and and help you make the best of your time spent.
We as homeschoolers spend plenty of time on book work. Often times we spend more time and dive deeper into the subject matter than their public school peers.
Getting out of the house to study Science and History not only adds to your studies but is a great opportunity for socialization.
Don't think of field trips as a distraction or break from learning, let them become part of your curriculum.
How though do you incorporate field trips as part of your learning? When for so long field trips have been associated with a day off from learning. I personally haven't thought of them that way. The idea of seeing and or touching something either you've just read about or are about to read about, helps make it a tangible idea versus an abstract thought.
From talking with other homeschool moms there seem to be two main ways that they make field trips part of their learning plan. Both of these have their merits and you can choose what works best for your family.
The Two Ways To Plan Field Trips
1. The Wing It Method
This one is the easiest. Just decide to be a free spirit and go with the flow. When inspiration strikes or opportunities knock throw out the schedule and take off on an adventure.
Be impulsive! Just wake up on the occasional morning and surprise them with a day out of the house.
Be o.k with knowing you'll have to make up the work missed.
Don't worry about fitting in a specific lesson you are studying. Choose something your child is passionate about and feed their curiosity.
You never know what may be coming up a year later or even two. The chances are something that you see or do will eventually be covered in the curriculum and you will be able to refer back to that field trip.
Jump when opportunity knocks. See a class on glass blowing for kids that is one day only. What a unique chance to learn about a skill and you never know you may find your child's hidden talent.
Take comfort in knowing that even if it is not following the curriculum you have introduced something new and learning something new is the point of the whole process.
2. The Extend The Curriculum Plan
For those that thrive on a schedule or are the type A personality. If you enjoy checking off boxes then this is the route for you.
Pull out your textbooks and search what you will be covering and when. Make a list.
Search all the local museums, zoos or historical sites that are in driving distance. Don't be afraid of those places where you may need overnight accommodations the memories last forever.
Be sure to check for temporary and permanent exhibits in case you need to go early or go later to do the hands on learning for the curriculum.
No matter your children's ages you will find something where they all will be learning.
Once you decide, add the field trips to your planner. That way you can arrange the lesson plans ahead of time to accommodate being out for the day.
No matter the type of planner you are don't be afraid of the field trip. Homeschooling is a full time job and you are a hero for taking on the task. There is no perfect way to home educate you do what works best.
How To Have A Happy Stress Free Homeschool Field Trip
Bring the essentials. We have a dedicated backpack to be able to just grab and go. My son was a scout and we learned to always be prepared. This is a list of our essentials that makes for a stress free day.
Kleenex, baby wipes and sanitizer are always helpful to have on hand. Also a small first aid kit for those inevitable smalls scrapes and cuts.
Snacks that don't melt and aren't super messy like granola bars, fruit snacks and nuts.
My son has ASD so we carry headphones in case it gets loud. We also carry small fidgets or comfort object in case he gets overwhelmed.
Small zippered pencil case with pencils pens and erasers. Also notebooks in case we want to write down some facts or questions we want to explore more later on the internet.
Some dollars, quarters and pennies for souvenirs or penny presses. We love collecting the pressed pennies. They have these machines all over the United States and are an inexpensive collectible.
Just remember that a field trip is going to mean all day off from school. So just have patience and enjoy your time away from the house and away from the books. Trying to squeeze in school and a field trip in one day will most likely result in stress and tears. There is always tomorrow to catch up on work.
As exciting as field trips can be don't adjust your schedule to much. If you're used to getting the kids up at nine and starting your day don't try to wake them up super early to make the most of the day. You will end up with cranky kids and a stressed out mom.
Know Your Kids Limits
We've all heard the saying "less is more". That is just as true when it comes to field trips. You don't have to do it all in one day. It is best to know when to leave to keep your nice day from going sideways.
Give your kids a map to choose one or two must do items each.
Don't be afraid to keep the visit short. You can always come back and explore another day.
Let kids ask questions and truly explore. That is what the employees are there to do is to teach or explain items or animals in their area.
Take turns being the leader and navigating through the facility.
DON'T BRING SCHOOLWORK!!!! What is even the point in going if your kids will just have their noses buried in books.
Consider purchasing a pass. Lots of facilities have payment plans or allow the purchase of day tickets to apply towards an annual pass. You'll feel a lot better leaving early when you haven't spent an arm and a leg to be there for just one day.
Reflect And Discuss The Day
This is my favorite part and we begin as soon as we get in the car. It's your turn to ask your kids questions.
What did they learn about that they'd like to learn more about when we get home?
Is there something you wish we did that you want to see next time?
What was the most interesting thing you learned?
What was your favorite or least favorite part?
I love this part because it's a chance to discuss with our kids and marvel at their unique thoughts and answers. I'm constantly surprised when I think I know what they will say and then it turns out something I didn't think they liked was actually their favorite parts.
I love field trips because it is a way to make theory become tangible. When you can touch, see, feel and smell what your learning it gives a whole other level of comprehension. Think about the reasons you chose to homeschool. I know for us one of those reasons was to not be chained to desks for eight hours a day five days a week. It was the opportunity to be out in the world living our education. Books are great tools to have but for me nothing beats real life learning.
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