The following is a guest post written by Linda Cerynik.
Field trips are one my favorite things about homeschooling. They make learning fun for you and your kids, and they give everyone a break from the routine of books, pencils and computers.
Field trips are a wonderful way to instill the value of lifelong learning in your children, as you both experience and discover new places together. Sometimes getting out of the house for a day gives you a little inspiration, or a spark of curiosity, reaffirming just why you chose to homeschool in the first place.
To make the most of your field trips, considering the following ideas:
Choosing your field trip
Museums, national or state parks, science centers and zoos are some great places to start. Your local theater, community orchestra or art show are other options.
However, you might consider a “routine” place for a field trip as well. We discovered that our local grocery store offers a 2 hour program for school groups. My friend contacted the store and scheduled a group for the homeschool community. A dozen or so kids registered through our local on-line group. When we arrived, a friendly manager provided the tour, including a lesson on nutrition and the food pyramid, as well as samples of food.
Are there local businesses, factories, or sports complexes that offer tours? Farms? Firehouses? Environmental centers? Be a tourist in your own city and find out what others come to town to see.
You could plan a service-oriented field trip, such as volunteering at the senior center or at your local animal shelter. Keep a list on the computer or in your personal organizer of potential field trips. Ask your kids where they would like to go.
We try to do at least one field trip per month, and my kids watch the calendar for when the next one will be! Field trips are the highlights of our school year.
Photo by See1,Do1,Teach1
Who will go on your field trip?
Although homeschooling can attract some independently minded people, consider asking others to come with you on your field trip. Is there another homeschooling family you have wanted to get to know? Would a grandparent like to come along? Perhaps you have a single friend who would enjoy a day out with your family. These are the days on which memories are made. Sometimes we need the reminder that everything is better shared!
But there may also be times you could use some quality time alone, just you and your kids.
What kind of field trip will this be?
If you and the kids just need a break, don’t put pressure on yourself to make the day any more than simply a fun day out.
Have no agenda. Enjoy talking on the ride there and back. Make the most of being Mom more than Teacher for the day. If you decide you want to step it up and make a little more of it, plan ahead.
Getting the most out of your day
Photo by Loren Kerns
Many typical venues (such as museums) offer teacher’s guides on their websites. You can download these for free and use them prior to your excursion.
There are also other ways to prepare your kids with information on the subject. For example, if you are going to visit the planetarium, check out some library books the week before on astronomy or do an Internet search. Ask your kids what they hope to learn on the trip.
Consider bringing clipboards and paper so they can do a writing response on the spot, after eating your brown bagged lunches. Or, the day after, review the trip with your kids. What was their favorite part? What surprised them? What questions were answered? What new questions arose? Would they recommend this place to a friend? Why or why not?
A written or creative response (a drawing, a poem, a play-doh /clay sculpture or collage) could wrap up the experience.
Flexibility is often cited as a reason families choose to homeschool.
Take full advantage of the scheduling freedom you have, and plan your next field trip today.
Find free field trips in your area: http://fieldtripfactory.com
Find field trip ideas in the Northeast USA: http://www.fieldtrip.com
Field trips listed by state and helpful websites: http://homeschooling.gomilpitas.com/trips/FieldTrips.htm
Where have you and your children been on a field trip recently?