ON THE GO WITH FIELD TRIPS
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”
Field trips provide wonderful extended learning outside the home plus family fun and fellowship.
Most homeschool families love field trips. Our family lived near Washington, DC for fourteen years, and we learned from and enjoyed the sights there and in surrounding areas. History came alive as we ventured out to see things we were reading about at home.
On one occasion (as we stopped yet again for an unscheduled “field trip” on our way to somewhere else), one son quipped, “Mom, can we ever go anywhere without your turning it into a field trip?” Nope, it’s part of a homeschool mom’s job description—always learning no matter where we are or what we are doing!
One homeschooling advantage is that you are free to take field trips as often as you like. One homeschooling disadvantage is that you are free to take field trips as often as you like. Yes, you read that correctly!
Do you “road” school more than “home” school (excluding those whose home is mobile)? When you leave frequently, your home suffers and chaos reigns. If you never venture out, your family misses many learning opportunities. Can you find comfortable balance between two extremes?
Priorities help you balance family learning opportunities. With a fully packed schedule of housework and inside schoolwork, you have no time for outings or fun. A spontaneous day out, even at the park, is wonderful therapy for a frustrating day at home; you can always call it “nature study.” Add a little wiggle room in your schedule. I assure you there will always be something to fill that extra time you thought you had in your day!
Basics first. When you plan a dinner menu (or start something in the crock-pot that morning), finish an hour’s housework (whatever that day’s need), and complete any priority schoolwork, you can leave home having accomplished something. For a morning out, quickly complete basic pickup and necessities and decide which additional things will be a priority when you return home. Facing a mess when you return is not fun. To save an additional trip out later, combine errands with a day out when children are not too tired from the day’s activity.
ORGANIZE FOR FUN
Can you venture out at a moment’s notice? With a field-trip bag packed and ready, a spontaneous trip for a last-minute opportunity won’t be a hassle. Keep your packed bag in an easily accessible place to grab and go:
? Nutritious, nonperishable snacks such as trail mix, individually packaged, or bars (one
for each child), and juice boxes or water bottles that don’t need refrigeration
? Pre-moistened wipes or a couple of washcloths (in plastic bags) that you can wet
with bottled water or water at your destination
? Roll of paper towels
? Box of tissues
? Notepad and pen or pencil
? Plastic grocery bags for trash while traveling
? One or two envelopes for coupons, receipts, or paper items that magically appear
while you are out
? Small and large zip bags stored inside one zip bag for things such as wet socks or
clothes, muddy shoes, items you accumulate on the trip, or other unexpected
? A checklist, placed in your bag, to remind you of important things to grab as you
leave (My memory needs help!)—any items you can’t store in the bag, items
particular to your family’s needs, and items such as these:
? Tickets, directions, or important information for the excursion
? Phone charger, if you don’t keep a charger in your vehicle
? Small cooler if you take lunches or cool drinks
? Music CD or audiobook (one that complements the field trip possibly) for lengthy
rides to your destination—avoid a movie if you have a DVD screen in your vehicle. It
will distract from the reason for the field trip, unless it is about your destination, of
? Infant needs/diaper bag when tiny ones travel with you, extra socks for young
children. (Wet or muddy socks seem to be the norm for outdoor field trips!)
? Destination location written and left in a prominent place (countertop, kitchen
table, bulletin board, on the fridge, for example) so others know where you are in
? Back-up for electricity or electronics failures. (Keep a working flashlight in your
LIFE IS LEARNING
Some families choose to homeschool as they travel for months at a time. Others take vacations around learning opportunities. Still others plan field trips as often as their schedules allow. No matter your family’s particular choices and opportunities, traveling both near and far broadens life’s education. Ask and the Lord will provide the particular opportunities and trips that will benefit your family for the school year.
Don’t forget sites and learning opportunities nearest your home—museums, zoos, historic sites, special displays at community centers or libraries, manufacturers, businesses, and fairs are just a few examples.
When I asked many Washington, DC area natives whether they had visited this or that historical site, the answer more often than not was “No.” How sad that they missed so much right under their noses! Teach your children that all of life is a learning experience and that God has placed them where they live for a purpose. He will provide many opportunities no matter where you call home.
As the famous Dr. Seuss said, “You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So...get on your way!”
Marilyn Rockett is a veteran homeschool mom of four grown sons and has six grandsons, one granddaughter, and two great-grandsons. She has worked in local, state, and national homeschool efforts for over thirty years and is formerly Editor in Chief for Homeschooling Today magazine. Her book, Homeschooling at the Speed of Life, provides organizational helps and encouragement. Marilyn is a contributing author to The Home School Manual (Ted Wade and Others); Laundry Tales to Lighten Your Load (2007); Life Savors for Women, Tyndale (2008); Easy Homeschooling Techniques: General Edition and Easy Homeschooling Curriculum (Lorraine Curry).
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