Planning a field trip is a wonderful way to break up the monotony of your day to day homeschooling, get everyone out of the house, and reboot and reflect in your local area! You can enjoy a field trip once a month, at the end of a unit of study, or even just to reinforce your child’s love of nature! Enriching their education with field trips is a wonderful idea, but just like other aspects of homeschooling, it can seem overwhelming and takes a bit of added planning.
Where to Begin
The first step to planning a field trip is determining which location you would like to visit. There are numerous options to choose from, all with educational opportunities to learn and have fun. A few suggestions include:
- State Capitol
- Dance studio
- Ice/Roller Skating
- Local restaurant tour
- Recycling facility
- Botanical gardens
- Local farm
- Bowling alley
- Movie theater
- Gem mine
- Newspaper office
- TV/Radio Studio
- Art studio
- Chocolate/Food factory
- State park
- Pumpkin patch
- Weather station
- Science/Historical museum
- Grocery store (they provide tours/health talks)
- Doctor/Dentist/Chiropractor Office
- Hospital tour
- Horse Stables
- Health food store
- Historic cemetery
- Nature trail
- Local University
The list for options for your field trips is nearly endless! Once you’ve chosen the perfect location, you should visit their website or call to find out their pricing, recommended ages, and what safety measures are required to attend (some might require close-toed shoes, no strollers, etc.). It is also important to find out if there are bathrooms available, the parking location, and if they provide guests any handouts to prepare in advance. I would suggest planning your field trip at least a month in advance to make sure your spot is saved in the area you’d like to attend.
Once you’ve set the date and have your reservation, you’re all set and can start preparing for your out of the home educational experience!
Preparing Before You Go
This might sound like an obvious step, but it’s important to have all your ducks in a row before heading out on your field trip. In the last step we went over finding out the requirements of your desired location, booking, and safety attire. In addition to all of that, it is essential to prepare the following:
- Cost – Set aside the appropriate amount of money required for the trip, including prices for tickets, parking, and lunch. You can also set aside additional funds for purchases at your location. Be sure to find out what forms of payment your field trip accepts (cash, debit/credit cards, checks, etc.)
- Research in Advance – Before you go, take the time to discuss with your child/children what they can expect on the field trip. Take a look at the website together, discuss what things they’d like to learn/see while out, and create excitement about the study together.
- Who’s Going – This might sound like an obvious question, but parents with multiple children might not want to take the toddler to certain field trips or leave the older children at home for events geared towards the littles. Prepare ahead of time for who is going and who will watch the children that are not attending. It is also a great idea to go with other families who homeschool. It’s a fantastic way for the parents and kids to get extra socialization while providing a fun experience for all!
- Discuss Your Safety Plan – Even though your children are used to listening/behaving in public, it’s always important to discuss a safety plan for large settings. Although everyone thinks it will not happen to them, occasionally people have lost their children in large group settings. It is important to dress your child in clothes that you can easily spot from a distance, have them memorize your phone number, address, and other important information, or even write it on a piece of duct tape and stick it to the back of their shirt. In the event you get separated, they will be prepared to help find their way back to you. For the older kids, create a meeting point and time if you allow them to travel in groups together. It’s better to be over-prepared in this instance.
During/After Your Field Trip
The most important thing during your field trip is to make sure you’re having fun! While you’re creating these memorable experiences with your children, it’s vital to make sure that you’re not only learning but enjoying yourselves in the process! After all, you did all that planning to make it pleasurable.
If during your research for your field trip you found a teacher’s guide (many museums provide these for free) you can download and utilize it during your trip. Consider taking a clipboard with paper for your child to write responses to questions you prepared beforehand. Or you can create a reflection worksheet to work on after your trip is over!
If you would like to create one of your own, a few questions you can ask include:
- What was your favorite part of the field trip?
- Did anything surprise you?
- What did you learn today that you hadn’t heard before?
- Would you recommend other homeschoolers attend this field trip? Why?
- Were there any parts that you disliked?
You can also have your child write about or draw a picture to wrap up their experience.
Once you have completed your takeaway for the current trip, see what ideas your child can come up with for their next field trip experience!