Homeschooling 101: Field Trips
One of the great advantages of homeschooling is your ability to experience hands-on learning through field trips. Unlike traditional schools, homeschoolers can arrange fields trips for small groups or just a few people rather than trying to create an experience for an entire grade. You don’t need a bus, permission slips or school board approval to plan your own field trips. With common sense and a bit of preparation, field trips can become a valuable part of your child’s learning.
- Consider the ages of your group. If you are working to arrange a field trip for a homeschooling group, you will have to come to an agreement on the appropriate ages for the planned activity. Remember that you will often be visiting places where people are actually working. You are doing a disservice to your group and the homeschooling community in general if you show up with a group too young to appreciate what they are seeing or too young to behave appropriately in a work setting. Even a wildly gifted four-year-old is still a four-year-old.
- Spend time preparing for your field trip. Read books. Study your destination’s website and available literature. Have your children prepare a list of thoughtful questions before you head out. With larger groups, it can be helpful to have a prepared checklist of things the kids should be looking for while on site.
- Send thank-you’s after your field trip. Most people are more than happy to share what they do with a group of kids. Acknowledge the time and effort they put into to helping your group learn.
- Show up for your field trip without enough adults willing to take charge. If your homeschool group splits the field trip into a park day for young children while the older children tour the post office, for example, make sure enough adults are at both locations. Explain acceptable behavior to the children beforehand and be willing to take a child who is not following the rules out immediately.
- Be cheap. Most homeschool families are on a budget. That does not entitle you to be stingy. If you plan on visiting an art center that operates on donations, agree as a group on a donation amount before your field trip. If the group cannot give to the center monetarily or in volunteer hours, postpone your trip until you can. Similarly, if you visit a restaurant for a behind-the-scenes tour followed by lunch, agree beforehand that the group will leave a fair tip and that each family will order food for each of their members. Again, if your group cannot afford to do this, postpone the trip until you can.
Remember when you set up a field trip for your homeschool group that, like it or not, your group will represent ALL homeschoolers. Be realistic about your group and plan accordingly.