Some of the most memorable times in a child’s school life can be a memorable field trip. With trips to historical sites, aquariums, zoos, interactive workshops, or just local areas of interest, children love interacting with their learning. As an education tool, a field trip is the perfect way to make the classroom come alive. A field trip can have an especially big impact on homeschooled children. As the teacher, taking your child on a field trip can make the lessons come alive, as well as give them the chance to interact with other homeschooled children. The article below from homeschool-by-design.com gives tips on organizing a field trip as well as lists some great field trip ideas.
Homeschool Field Trips
The Best Tips and Ideas
The best ideas and tips for homeschool field trips. A person’s education is shaped by all the experiences he or she has over the course of a lifetime. “Doing life” instead of reading about it in a book is so much more memorable. That’s why I’m also a huge fan of educational travel. Homeschool families love the idea of field trips, but often have a hard time deciding where to go. Below is a list of ideas and a few tips to help make your field trip experience the best it can be.
Wherever you live, there are some great educational field trips just around the corner. You may have to adjust your thinking to see them.
As a former public school teacher, I viewed field trips as just another way to check off an objective that I was required to teach. If you look at many official field trip guides, you will notice a list of “objectives” that can be fulfilled by participating in a trip. Since starting to homeschool, I have discovered that not all learning experiences will fit into an “objective box” but they are still worthwhile.
Now that I know more about right brain learners I understand that when we go on a field trip, my kids notice more and are taking in more than one specific objective. They are processing the experience as a whole. Sure, I can draw their attention to a detail, but they are going to learn alot more by seeing the big picture.
One special difference between homeschool field trips and regular school field trips is that businesses are often more open to small groups (like one family) more so than a large group of 20 kids and their chaparones. Can you imagine having 20 kids and 5 adults in a glass blowing studio?!? I can’t, but the artist was happy to have my family in for a demonstration.
Another difference is the amount of time you can spend with your children really taking in the details and all the aspects of learning that homeschooling field trips have to offer. Read an example from a social studies field trip.
Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way….
Guide to a Great Homeschool Field Trip Experience
• If you have young children, go when they are fresh. Having a tired, cranky child is a sure way to ruin a great trip for you and for those around you.
• Bring food and drinks. Even if it’s a short trip, at least pack some crackers and water. Leave them in the car if the venue prohibits them. It seems like outings have a funny way of creating an unquenchable thirst and ravenous hunger in kids.
• Enjoy yourself. Don’t worry about being a tour guide or expert teacher who is always quizzing on the most recent happenings. I have found that when my children wander through a museum exhibit at a leisurely pace, reading, asking questions, and studying details, they end up learning more than if I am constantly drawing their attention to and asking questions about this or that. I’m not saying you should never try to encourage or guide toward something of interest, just make sure that’s what you are doing, and it’s not an effort to control the inputs and make sure they “learn something.”
• If things don’t go exactly as planned, DON’T PANIC! Unexpected things can ruin your day or be a lesson in flexibility. Your children are watching your reaction!
• If your destination isn’t a typical “field trip” venue, make sure to call ahead and make special arrangements. Be prompt and appreciative on the day of your trip. Thank you notes following these types of visits are very appropriate and are appreciated by businesses.
• This should go without saying, but make sure you and your children are well mannered during your homeschool field trip. Remember, small children can be overcome with excitement on field trips. Don’t overreact! Usually a quiet reminder of appropriate behavior so other can enjoy the experience is all that is needed. An incessantly nagging, overbearing parent is much more annoying than an excited child. If the behavior continues, is unsafe, or undeniably hindering others ability to enjoy the experience (say, a whiny 3 year old at the symphony) it’s probably best to leave.
My guide “Organizing Homeschool Field Trips for Groups” has even more tips for planning the best field trips!
A-Z List of Homeschool Field Trip Ideas
- Dairy Farm
- Emergency Services
- Fire Station
- Grocery Store
- Ice Skating
- Kitchen of a restaurant
- Manufacturing Plant
- Post Office
- State Fair
- USS Arizona (Ok, I know you may have to travel, but “U” is hard!)
- Veterinarian’s office
- X-citing place for YOUR child
- Yarn shop
As shown above by the list of locations, potential field trip locations are only limited to what you feel is relevant to your child’s education. Each field trip location offers a unique and enlightening lesson that will challenge your child.
Here at Southwick’s Zoo, we encourage homeschool groups to use our Zoo as a field trip destination. Contact us to learn more. We are always willing to help with any questions that you may have and we look forward to seeing you on your field trip.