“But what do you do about field trips?”
Sigh. I can’t begin to tell you how many times in our homeschooling journey that I’ve heard those words. I can only assume that some people equate homeschooling to never leaving the house, or perhaps they think only public schools are “allowed” varying educational experiences?
In fact, homeschooling uniquely allows so many more opportunities for a “field trip,” learning opportunity, or whatever you might want to call it. You don’t have to schedule ahead, deal with permission slips, coordinate 20 or 30 children at a facility, etc. And it is so much easier to learn without 25 of your classmates screaming for attention.
But this begs another question: what is a field trip? I mean, yes, we all know what a field trip is. But in a way, anything can really be a field trip as long as it takes you outside of your normal learning environment, whatever that may be. For instance, I’ve sent the kids exploring in the backyard to learn about the plants and animals. They collected leaves and other interesting plant life, and found animal tracks. When they came inside they looked up their discoveries on the internet and then we talked about them. Yes, they were still home, but if a classroom full of kids had gone to the local nature trails and done the exact same thing it would be a field trip.
Granted, not every field trip can be a backyard adventure. We have the luxury of living in an area rich with history, and can go at any time, almost on a moment’s notice, to any of the wonderful historical sites in the area. We live less than two hours from Boston, the Mayflower, Concord/Lexington, and the site of the first settlement of Pilgrims. There are many museums in the area that are ripe for learning opportunities as well. The Boston Museum of Science, the New England Aquarium, and the Museum of Fine Arts are all close enough to drive to, just to name a few. The local library even gives out free passes to go!
Just two weeks ago I took the kids to the SEE Science Center, a local children’s science museum. Our trip illustrated how great homeschooling field trips can actually be. We planned our trip for about noontime, and met another homeschooling family there on a weekday. It was completely empty except for a few others. My children had the entire place to explore and learn!
The kids thought they were having fun – which they were – but through that fun they learned about electricity, sound waves, gears, motors, shadows, light, and so many other things. We went into a special experiment room and conducted experiments with water, vinegar, baking soda, and seltzer mixed with food coloring. They added various ingredients to different cups and wrote down the results and what their conclusions were. Their favorite part was the simulated moonwalk, where they could jump in “low gravity.”
So to the next person who asks how we do field trips, all I have to say is we have more and better opportunities for field trips than you could imagine.