6 Easy Outings to Nurture Your Child’s Mind (& Yours, Too)

Feeling stuck at home during these final winter days?

As spring approaches, it’s the perfect time to break with routine and head out for a field trip. Homeschoolers have a decided advantage in planning outings–we can go any time of day or year, plan around the crowds, and create our own experience.

If you’re in need of an easy outing, here are six places that young and old can enjoy together–coming away refreshed and with much learning inspiration.

1. A Performance

Photo by midiman

Whether it’s the symphony, a concert, or the ballet, exposing our children to the arts nurtures their spirits and minds. Not only do our children see the wonder of music or dance firsthand as a result, they also learn valuable social skills of how to behave in a performance environment.

Years ago, while reading And the Skylark Sings with Me: Adventures in Homeschooling and Community-Based Education by David Albert, I learned a helpful tip for successful outings with children at these venues.

Albert mentions his frequent trips with his two daughters to performances–often at very young ages. The goal, in his mind, was merely exposure. So when his girls started to fidget or were no longer interested, he would leave immediately.

He didn’t want to ruin the experience with lots of “Sit down, be quiet” nagging advice. Instead, Albert just accepted his daughters’ developmental limits, knowing that their attention span would grow with time. I found this philosophy both enlightening and freeing.

2. A Children’s Museum

Children’s museums are perfect for little ones because they represent hands-on, experiential learning. We have a yearly membership to our local venue and visit each month. My three kids never tire of all the scope for the imagination residing there.

If you need to locate your nearest museum (and you’re in the US), head here to find the closest location. International readers can look for a museum in this directory.

3. A Scenic Trail

Photo by OakleyOriginals

Perfect for both nature study and physical education, hiking is the ideal educational outing. And this time of year is ideal for beginning a weekly hiking ritual.

One of Simple Homeschool’s contributors, Renee Tougas, has a passion for outdoor exploration as a family. At her blog you can find further information to make your outings both memorable and educational.

We’re not ardent hikers in our family, but we make an effort to explore local trails on a regular basis. I find it amazingly rejuvenating and excellent for bonding as a family.

4. A Restaurant

Now this is my type of learning! Last night our family of five visited a Thai restaurant for the first time. While eating incredible food we discussed Thai culture, heard the Thai language, and browsed brochures about Thailand.

As Heidi mentioned in her post about geography, restaurants can be a wonderful way to introduce the world to your children.

5. An Art Museum

The key to a successful art outing, especially if your children are younger, is knowing when to get in and get out.

What is it about parents that make us feel as though we must see every. single. painting–while our children’s eyes glaze over with boredom?

Much better to whet their appetite for art and leave them begging for more! So hang around as long as it is fun–then take a break.

6. A Farm

Photo by Nicholas

On a day when little and big bodies need to get out and move, a farm is the perfect destination.

Our children have been to a dairy farm and touched the cows that provided our raw milk.

We also recently joined an organic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), which will allow us to drive to the farm each week and pick up our produce. In this day and age many children and adults hold a foggy idea of how food actually grows and arrives at the store. Take the opportunity to give your children a firsthand look at the process.

If you’re interested in a CSA, this is the best time of year to sign up. Visit localharvest.org to locate one in the United States.

When it comes to field trips, sometimes the challenge of organizing the outing holds us back. That’s why having a regular (though flexible) field trip schedule helps. Plan an easy outing for the first week of each month, or every Wednesday–whatever works for you.

Often outings lead to new memories and take book learning to the next level.

So don’t wait–head out the door today. Where will you go?

What is your family’s favorite educational outing?

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She serves as editor of Simple Homeschool, and blogs about mindful parenting at Steady Mom. Jamie is also the author of two books: Steady Days and Mindset for Moms.

Comments

  1. grace says:

    I have very little littles-4 and 2-but things like these, you can never do to early…and I love how their little faces light up when just take a hike outside together! learning, fun, family time…you can’t go wrong!
    .-= grace’s last blog: Always An Adventure–Livid Angry =-.

  2. We’ve done most of these with our boys, and they’ve all been wonderful. For concerts, we’ve done two things very successfully: 1. We attend a summer concert series in the park every year. The setting is very casual, and the boys don’t have to be silent or still. They are able to have a picnic, or get up and dance. Often, they can be right by the stage. We’ve listened to a wide variety of music styles this way. And the concerts are free! (Which makes it easier to get up and leave if the boys are DONE.) 2. We also attend educational performances at a nearby performing arts center. The ballet company presents an abridged version of their child-friendly ballets, with naration to keep the flow of the story. Tickets are very inexpensive and they save the box seats for homeschoolers!

    Thanks for the inspiration, Jamie. I think it is time to get back to an art museum…It has been a while.
    .-= Heidi @ Mt Hope’s last blog: Social Studies 101 =-.

  3. Nola says:

    Great post…I just wish that more of these types of things were available where I live. With a baby, I can’t travel 2 or more hours (usually way more) to get to things like children’s museums and such. I do see changes happening around me though in the directions of CSAs and such…although there are none right now. We do have lots of places to hike and explore though! I’ll have to check out that other mom’s blog too about that.

  4. Just me, again. :) Another thought about museums… I struggle with leaving when the boys have had enough after we’ve paid quite a bit just to get in. The way we’ve solved this problem is by getting memberships. Museum memberships make great gifts for birthdays and holidays, and they often pay for themselves after just two visits. Last year we had a membership to a wonderful aquarium. We could visit for a short amount of time, without feeling guilty. After several visits, the boys felt a sort of ownership in the place. They knew where their favorite exhibits were, learned more by repeated exposure, and could spend extra time at one place without feeling like we had to see everything on that visit. This year, we are members at a Space & Aviation Museum. The other thing to look into is the reciprocal memberships. We were able to get free admission into two science museums on a recent vacation because we were members of our local children’s museum.
    .-= Heidi @ Mt Hope’s last blog: Social Studies 101 =-.

    • I couldn’t agree more about the memberships! For the past 2 years we have received memberships to local places for our daughters’ birthday from family members. Last year it was the botanical gardens and this year it’s our city’s children’s museum. It totally takes the guilt out of leaving after a short visit and I, too, saw the girls take ownership and really enjoy the repeat trips.

      Oh, there is also a Free Museum day that takes place nationally in the Fall. TONS of places participate and we use that to explore new places and see how the kids do. Looking forward to it this year!
      .-= Paula@Motherhood Outloud’s last blog: It’s Been Five Years Already?? =-.

  5. Catherine says:

    I am so looking forward to our CSA this year (in our neck of the woods farming season doesn’t start until late June or even early July). Due to circumstances we haven’t been able to join one the last few years, so I am extra excited about this year, and I’ve been talking it up with the kids and they are excited now too! We’ve been to several children’s museums and an art museum in the last few months, and we are planning to try out the new Vietnamese restaurant in our area soon. I hope the weather will let us hit some trails soon too!

  6. se7en says:

    Thanks for a great post, I love the links in the links!!! My kids learn so much from an outing, it is so worth making the effort to get up and go!!!

  7. Renee says:

    Um… you named them all (smile). Within the last month we went to a symphony orchestra performance and a gamelan (indonesian percussion) concert, we’ve hiked (thanks for the link), we’ve eaten at our favorite Thai restaurant and visited the farm. Most of those we did just last week in fact, a week of homeschool.

    The children’s museum is a bit pricey around here and 45 min drive away so we usually only go once/year and we visit the art museum at the local college every couple months.

    I love living in a place that I can access all these great resources, most of them inexpensively.

    Oh and I just LOVE Albert’s And the Skylark Sings with Me what a great reminder about how to enjoy music and art (& life with our children).

  8. Hannah says:

    We recently took an outing to our local art museum, which offers free admission on Thursdays. We are all about free! We only had an hour to browse, which I figured would be plenty of time since they’d be getting antsy and making the hypervigilant guards nervous.

    Not so. I had to drag them out after an hour while my oldest, the 9 y.o. boy, pleaded, “Can we please come back here when we can spend the whole day here?”

    So I guess that’s our current favorite. And my socks remain knocked off!
    .-= Hannah’s last blog: When the World is Puddle-Wonderful … =-.

  9. Rana says:

    I looked at the website you shared about the CSA we have a few right in our area. I’m looking forward to doing that with the kids. We have a few dairy farms by my grandmothers house and I hope to get us out there this spring/summer. One of our favorite places to visit is the Henry Ford Museum. The kids love running around and looking at all the cars and trains on exhibit. Plus we have a farmers market that is just down the street that we can walk to and get fresh fruits and vegetables.
    .-= Rana’s last blog: It’s inventory time! =-.

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