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Your Homeschool NEEDS a Field Trip

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If there is one thing that I wish I could go back and tell myself at the very start of homeschooling, it would be this: take more field trips. Despite having been a classroom teacher and planning trips bi-monthly for my class, something in me was very hesitant to spend too much time outside of our home once I started teaching at home.

What if someone thought I wasn’t doing my “job” as a homeschool mom?

Maybe we wouldn’t get every little piece of our “real” curriculum completed – then what??

Field trips technically don’t count as school, right? Sometimes it’s all about having the correct number of days marked off on the calendar should the state come knocking. (I’m a rule follower, you all. Bear with me.)

I do hope you sense my sarcasm here. Learning can happen ANYWHERE, but often we get so wrapped up in the tangible curriculum right in front of us or worry about what others might think. 

img_9426(there is ALWAYS one kid with eyes closed!)

Every now and then we would take a short trip but typically on days that we had already planned to have off from our regular school time – or better yet, AFTER we had finished our “real” school time. You know, the one with books and such. Heaven forbid I think that learning really takes place anywhere other than our four walls.

One year something changed for me that opened my eyes and helped me throw off any hinderance to taking field trips. A public school friend of my girls took a two day field trip. Not to a historical location (because that screams approval, right?), but to a THEME PARK. Two days!!! I may have been a wee bit irked and beside myself at that revelation. Those teachers were getting paid to ride roller coasters and not do one bit of book-learning with the kids. Those two days were counting as their 180 days and hours of official school time. And here I was sitting at home making sure all of my boxes were checked and I was doing the correct thing so I could homeschool my kids. 

(Clearly I need to lighten up, some.)

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From that moment on, my perspective on field trips shifted. In fact, we may have promptly planned a field trip to Six Flags for the second day of school the following school year (since our school year was already completed). That day, while all the kids in public school were sitting at their desks that sunny day, we enjoyed the freedom of a crowd-free park and reveled in our homeschool life. (Granted, I may have also mentally justified the trip since we earned the tickets by reading books for the Read to Succeed program, but give me grace – I am a slow learner. At least we took the trip!)

Field trips add an extra hands-on element of learning and allow our family to experience things first hand. It’s one thing to read about early Native Americans and their tools, but quite another to visit and see how they lived.  Talking about fossils is one thing, but when our kids have a chance to literally dig into the dirt and unearth their own to take home – that makes learning so much more fun! 

A Few Tips To Get Planning

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Maybe you also struggle with letting go a little bit in this area and stepping out (literally) to have fun together as a family. Can I offer a few tips?

  • Find a friend to go with you. One of the best things I did was grab hold of a friend and plan some field trips together. Initially we started with a few families and planned a trip once a month: a forestry trip complete with a park guide, a cavern tour, a river study, an Aboriginal art museum. We tried to keep them fairly friendly for kids of all ages, but a few of them were geared toward older kids. Trips were art, science, and multi-subject based. 
  • Plan trips around your curriculum. This year a friend and I are working through US history together with both our younger boys and also our high school girls. We are planning some small and big trips together: learning about early Native Americans, Colonial Williamsburg, fossils, and many additional historical figures from early American history – even an overnight trip or two with the girls! Even if you aren’t focusing on history lessons, there are so many other options for planning trips: art studies, science/nature, geography, government/civics, etc…
  • Look into service-based projects. Beyond taking trips to a historical battlefield or your state capital, look local and see if there are projects your family can dedicated consistent time to help out. Once a month our family coordinates and volunteers to cook and serve a lunch for an area ministry that reaches out to the homeless. While it may not always be their favorite thing to do, sometimes our kids need to look beyond themselves and extend a hand to others. 
  • Check for discounts. Often sites have special homeschool discounts to take advantage of and along with that, many places offer additional activities on homeschool days. Don’t be afraid to call and ask! 
  • Don’t overplan. Sometimes you do have to have a basic plan in place for the day, but relax and let the day flow as it will. Enjoy learning alongside your kids and move on to the next thing if they aren’t as interested in something you think is fascinating. Make it a fun day out and create memories together that won’t stress you out. 
  • Look ahead for teacher’s guides or special tours. So many of the places we have visited have downloads available on their website or special tours for groups. 
  • Take lots of pictures (and actually print them off). Don’t be afraid to be the embarrassing mom with the camera or phone. If you’d like to be particularly cool, add a Snapchat filter and have added fun with your kids. Nothing will bring out the laughs and memories like a goofy face and you showing you can laugh (again, ask me how I know). 
  • Be flexible. Unfortunately, the weather hasn’t always cooperated with our field trip plans. Between rain and heat, we’ve had to scratch or adjust a few trips. Depending on your kiddos, you may not want to tell them too much in advance about a trip, especially if you have some that are tied into “but you said…” Ask me how I know.

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Remember that not all learning needs to happen based on what a book says or how many worksheets are done. Get out there and have some fun together with your kids! 

What has been your favorite or most memorable field trip with your family? 

This post may contain affiliate or advertiser links. Read my full disclosure policy .


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Comments

  1. I always made sure to plan field trips with my girls. Many times our field trips were to a local or nearby park with our books in hand. My girls always learned better hands on so the fall and spring of the year was a great time to teach science.

  2. I love the pictures! Field trips are fun:)

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