Once upon a time, many moons ago, when we first began homeschooling . . . a wise and experienced homeschool mom told me to take time off from schooling as we adjusted to homeschool life. Though I did an extraordinary amount of planning and research (hours and hours of planning and research) to assure myself that I could indeed do this thing called homeschool, I was excited to factor in plenty of homeschool field trips. I’m so thankful that was the case, as it has shaped our homeschool and continues to have a most positive effect all these years later.
Why Field Trips Matter
While it may be easy to understand the value in visiting the aquarium, history museums and other great field trips, a good field trip can provide much more than interesting facts and new discoveries.
For example, in our homeschool, we have read all about World War II, Vietnam, Korea, the Revolutionary and the Civil Wars. We have done extensive studies using lapbooks and unit studies on these topics. As a matter of fact, it was a book about WWII that initially inspired my middle boy to care about learning to read! But, it wasn’t until we were on the road, field tripping all the way to another Teach Them Diligently Convention, that this particular instance took place. Something we all shoot for, as teachers, as parents, is seeing that “ah-ha moment” when our children truly get the full implications of whatever it is we are teaching them. We were passing through Alabama, and stopped to tour the USS Alabama Battlefield Memorial Park when it happened on this particular topic for my boys.
You see, all the reading in the world, unit studies, and more, did not have the same amount of power as what we experienced there. The boys know that their grandfathers on both sides fought in Korea and Vietnam. They know that my grandfather, their great grandfather, was a soldier who marched from France into Germany in WWII.
But, it wasn’t until we stood in front of the Vietnam Memorial there at the Military Park and began reading the names of the men – real people (who never returned to their home state of Alabama) — that the sacrifices made by our military and forefathers became REAL to my boys.
Name after name we read out loud together. A stillness, and a quiet respect came over the boys, and I saw that flicker in their eyes. They got it! They really got it! And now, when we read about current events, or wars from history, we are not hearing stories that they cannot relate to. History isn’t something that simply happened a long long time ago . . . it involved real people, real men and women who now truly inspire our studies.
Planning Field Trips
Field trips don’t have to be complicated or expensive in order to be effective. Certainly, you will find some that are more interesting to you than others. We have found many valuable opportunities at little “mom and pop” places that have offered a more personal, hands-on learning experience than you sometimes find at larger museums, zoos, and aquariums. They each serve a purpose.
10 tips for finding and planning homeschool field trips:
- Ban together: local groups, Facebook groups – may provide discounts in numbers
- Always ask if there are discounts available for homeschool families (get a FREE ID Card Here)
- Look local – don’t count out the small places
- Consider places outside your usual driving range (some may be worth the hotel room cost and drive)
- Get involved in your local groups and brainstorm with other homeschool moms
- Start your own field trip group
- Be sure to check out the smaller “off the beaten path, mom & pop” style of place as they may surprise you! (hopefully – pleasantly) We have had some fantastic out of the way homeschool field trips this way.
- Check local business bureau or Visitor Center’s for discounts, ideas, and coupons!
- Turn family vacations into field trip opportunities!
- Check out Marcy’s field trip post to get great ideas!
Kelli Becton is a homeschool mom of 3 boys and resides with her husband, on the coast in Southwest Florida. They have been homeschooling almost since 2003 and have developed their own hands on learning style with Wildlife Adventures Unit Studies. Kelli shares their adventures and loads of freebies at www.AdventuresinChildrearing.com – Facebook Here & Pinterest Here.
I would also love to invite you the community inspired by this series, as we strive to inspire, encourage and empower our readers in everything homeschooling.