Inside: Ever wonder if field trips are worth your effort? Find out the benefits of field trips and how to take a good one. Get an extensive list of ideas to print out.
Ever wonder if field trips are worth your effort? I mean you have to get everyone ready and out the door on time, lose a day of school, and actually dress your kids up in something nice. Seems like a lot of effort!
Field trips are on the decline in the public school system. They must make choices about where their money goes and field trips are often the first thing to get cut. I think it’s a shame because public school children spend every day looking at the same four walls.
Homeschoolers are lucky in the sense that we aren’t cooped up in a classroom all day. However, we can get into a rut of not going on field trips because we have so many other activities going on in our lives and a field trip is one more thing to add to the list. You may reconsider after reading this.
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Real World Learning
Anytime a student leaves their learning environment and goes into the real world, they interact with new people, places, and objects. They can experience these in a way they wouldn’t be able to if they were reading a school book.
Zoos have animals they can observe and sometimes pet. Museums have exhibits they can touch and engage with. A field trip to NASA may give the child an opportunity to sit in a flight simulator and learn about flying and space.
These types of encounters bring subjects to life and cements the information into their memory.
Field trips help children see things they normally wouldn’t. We can’t just walk down the street and see a blacksmith making horseshoes these days. However, there are places you can take them where they feel as if they stepped back in history and can see how people from years ago lived.
They can go to a battlefield and watch a reenactment or perhaps go to a stable and ride a horse for the first time. It can even be as simple as riding the subway or city bus.
This isn’t something you can provide within your home.
One of the biggest benefits of field trips is the impact it has on academics. When students are involved, they are more likely to learn and remember information. They gain a better understanding and it becomes relevant to them. Here are three of the biggest academic benefits:
Multisensory– Reading is only one way we learn. Children who are auditory, tactile or kinesthetic learners need information presented in their learning style to grasp information. Field trips give a multisensory approach where everybody can learn.
Builds schematic memory– One factor that plays a large role in early readers having success is schematic memory. When you expose a child to something and then he later encounters it in a story, he can pull it from his memory to comprehend what he is reading. Field trips will expose children to a wealth of situations to build memories, which help with reading comprehension.
Increases vocabulary– As children listening to other people talk and go to a variety of places to learn new things, their vocabulary will increase.
When students go on a trip to a museum, they can see beyond their own neighborhood or world. They are exposed to diverse people, ideas, places, cultures, and time periods. This helps them to appreciate events that have happened in the past and identify with present situations going on in the world today. This encourages them to think of others instead of themselves.
They will see what it was like during different eras and the difficulties people faced with food, clothing, shelter, education, religious freedoms, and personal rights. This exposure will build historical empathy and help them grow.
A Way to Include Everyone
If you homeschool children of different ages, you know it’s difficult to include everyone. This is especially true in the teen years when these kids start to pull away. Field trips are a great way to bring all age groups together. Most field trips will appeal to all your family members, even if the teen won’t admit it.
Here is a video explaining the benefits of field trips.
Variety of Field Trips
There are so many types of field trips you can take. Exposing children to a wide variety will give them a more well-rounded education. I’ve put together an extensive list of ideas. You can grab a copy for yourself at the bottom of this article. Refer to it when you need to get out of the house or want to supplement something your kids are studying.
Books to Help
Bike Tour of a City
Military or National Guard Installation
Nursery/Lawn and Garden Shop
The National Weather Service
Water Treatment Plant
Wood Worker’s Shop
Apple Orchard to Pick Apples
Blueberry Farm to Pick Blueberries
Exotic Animal Farm
Lock and Dam
Trip to a Cave
Service to Others
Check out this guide for even more ideas!
How to Have a Successful Field Trip
Do Your Research
- Find out the times and regulations of the museum or park.
- Check for discounts- We went on a trip to Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. We accidentally went into the National Constitution Center to pick up our tickets and found out we could purchase their tickets half off by showing our tickets from the Independence Hall tour. We ended up adding that to our trip and I’m so glad we did. It was a fantastic museum we would have missed otherwise.
- See if they have homeschool days. Many places do this now and it’s wonderful! They set up activities for the group and you get to do some much more than you would if you only went with your family.
- See if there are educational materials you can use while you are there like maps, brochures, scavenger hunts, etc. I found out at the Museum of Natural History that my daughter loves to read maps and navigate for people. And being that I am directionally challenged, I was happy to let her do it and we didn’t get lost.
- Check out A Guide to Great Field Trips- This book is for a classroom but gives great ideas homeschoolers can use.
Involve the Students
Find out what your children are interested in. Choose field trips in those areas and they will be excited to go. It also helps if you build some background knowledge by looking at websites about it before leave. They will have a better idea of what the trip is about and anticipate what they will see.
Make the Trip Relevant
If you are studying something in school and there is an opportunity to go on a field trip about it, do it! That topic will come alive for your student and have more meaning than reading about it in a book.
Make It Interactive
Choose something where students will be involved. The more senses you can incorporate on a trip, the more they will remember. My daughters had the opportunity to pretend they were being sworn in as president. They stood at a podium with their hands over their hearts and repeated the oath. I guarantee the next time a new president is sworn in, they will pay attention and remember parts of the oath.
Consider the Cost
Not every field trip has to cost something. There are free excursions you can go on around your hometown to get the kids out of the house and let them have real life encounters.
However, I will say this, if at all possible, it’s nice to take a bigger trip once in a while. I know many homeschool families are on a single income and this can be a big expense. I have a few suggestions which can help:
- Plan out far enough in advance to save up
- Ask for cash at birthdays or Christmas
- Split the cost with another family- My girls and I went to New York City with a friend and her daughter and we drove in one vehicle, split the gas, and shared the cost of an Airbnb.
- Eat In When Possible- Because there was a kitchen at the AirBnb we stayed at, we had breakfast and dinner there instead of eating in the city for every meal. These were big savings.
- Stay Outside City Limits- If you are traveling to a large city, it’s much cheaper to stay outside the city. When we went to New York City, we stayed across the river in New Jersey and took a ferry into New York each day. This saved a ton of money and we enjoyed the ferry ride. Not only that, we got to see the gorgeous skyline of New York from a perspective we wouldn’t have been able to appreciate if we were right in the city.
- Research- This is worth bringing up again because you can discover how to save in areas like transportation during your stay, the cheapest restaurants to eat at, and days where museums are free, discounted, or take donations.
My youngest seems to experience things on high alert. When she’s hungry or thirsty, it’s all she can think about. She also has acid reflux, which can flare up at any moment. We were in the middle of a museum when it started acting up and she needed a drink. Luckily I carry bottled water with me everywhere we go because I know this. I gave her a drink, and we didn’t have to leave to go find one.
As you know, if you break out a drink, there’s going to be a snack that follows. And if you have a snack, chances are, she’s going to need another drink. Because if you give a mouse a cookie… You know how that goes. So keeps snacks on hand as well. Kids are hungry at the most inopportune moments!
Just do it. Yes, it means wearing a backpack, lugging around drinks and snacks, and your back being a chiropractors dream by the end of the day. But you will get to see the exhibits and not have to spend $5 on one bottled water.
I have found the benefits of field trips to be many. I am always amazed at what my kids pick up while we are on one. Ask your child to tell you his favorite part or what surprised him. You might be shocked it was something you didn’t even catch. You won’t regret taking your children out of their normal environment to learn and you might even get a few pictures while they’re dressed in something nice!
As a subscriber, you can get my list of field trip ideas so you don’t have to think of them yourself!
What are the best field trips have you taken? What benefits did your children gain? Let me know in the comments below.