This year we have integrated field trips into our homeschool program. We have always wanted to, but time did not allow. However, a few activities we had planned were cancelled and so we suddenly have time to do a field trip each Friday.
Rhonda Conner, in her article Organizing Field Trips, at www.hhen.org states: “WHY do we go on field trips? Like the common saying, there are as many reasons to go on field trips as there are homeschoolers. Some reasons are educational value, socialization, children’s interests, breaking the monotony of a schedule, and just plain fun. Sometimes we can even turn an errand or a chore into a field trip. Just visiting our friends on the farm can be construed as a field trip. And my favorite one of all, a visit to the chocolate store, probably doesn’t need an explanation as to why we go on that one so often.”
For us, homeschool field trips serve several purposes.
1. They give us a change of pace after a full week of focused study. In our homeschool, we study hard. I expect the children to excel in a subject before moving on to the next. Having our field trips on Fridays allows the kids to relax and in a way starts the weekend early for them, while still getting in that learning time that I value so much.
2. They add viability and allow me to expand on what has been taught. Kids, especially my pre-teens do not necessarily believe everything we tell them. On field trips, I can relate something I taught during the week to something they are seeing. Often times they get to prove their point to me as well. It is hard to argue with what is in front of your eyes.
3. Field trips are my preferred way to teach science and history. Frankly, the two subjects hardly interest me, so I have a difficult time getting the children interested. (They take history classes outside the home.) By visiting science a history museums, the children and I can get a tour and explanations by someone versed in the subject and that makes it more interesting for us all. If we are the only people at the exhibit at the time (an extra benefit for homeschoolers), we can ask many questions and learn more than we ever could from a chapter in a book.
4. They allow the kids to socialize with their friends and other people in the community. Depending on the nature of our field trip, I like to call other homeschooling families and invite them along. This gives our kids time with their friends while allowing them to explore and discover things together.
Homeschool field trips are even more valuable if you prepare for it in advance. I do this by choosing my trips according to what we are studying at the time, or something we want to study. I present the information to the children in the form of historical biographies, and short children’s books. This builds excitement for the trip and gives us all background information so that we know what to look for at the exhibits. It also arms us with lots of questions for the unsuspecting museum curator.