Making Homeschooling Trips Easier

Whether your homeschooling group is large or small, there is always something you can do to make field trips easier.

Parents, group leaders and teachers alike should look forward to home-schooling outings. Students and adults alike need some semblance of organization and preparedness to keep this fun: if nobody knows what's happening or where to go, it's going to end up being a living nightmare.

Here's the good news, though: even if you're taking fifty students to the science museum, you can manage things effectively without breaking out the shock collars.

As a home-schooling parent or teacher, you should remember that your group has an advantage over the "regular" student body: a free schedule. That's right: your planning doesn't revolve around hours that have been etched in granite for years. You can take your group wherever you want, whenever you want - which makes the experience more fun, not to mention a lot easier, for everyone.

The first step is, of course, to pick a place to visit. Remember: you don't have to be locked in to the boring old bakery or museum that your grade-school teachers made you visit three years in a row. Every student has different interests and tastes, which makes traditional field trips harder. The teachers and chaperones have to accommodate a fairly large group of kids, many of whom don't actually want to go in the first place. Attention spans are short, trouble happens, and many kids return to their homes no more enlightened or interested than they were when their alarms went off that morning.

Your advantage is that you can take a vote, talk to the parents and students in your group, and look outside "traditional" field trip ideas for inspiration. Remember: when people, students or not, are interested in something, learning is easier and more fun for everyone, including you. Don't be afraid to take an unconventional trip or two during the school year: you never know what can be learned at a theme park, baseball game, or recording studio.

Speaking of planning, here are some tips to get you started with new ideas:

-Plan with the "regular" school year. Taking your group on a trip in the middle of a school day means fewer crowds, reduced waiting time, and more fun! Also, try to get off-season and group discounts: the less you spend on tickets, the more money you'll have for the next adventure.

-Give plenty of notice for working parents. Many home-schooling parents are already involved, but field trips often happen during the week, when people are at work. If you give a few weeks' notice (at the minimum), you should get more volunteers who've been able to get the day, or at least part of it, off.

Now that you've picked an education AND fun place to go and have coordinated the schedule to make things easier and less crowded, you can plan the specifics of the outing. A few minutes spent planning it now can help ensure that everybody learns something and has a great time while you're on the outing itself.

-Visit the attraction's Web site or call ahead to ask if there is anything unusual that you might need to know. Common sense would tell most people to bring sunscreen for any outdoor adventure, but what if you're going someplace out of the ordinary, such as a reptile farm? While you're at it, be sure you have directions: few things in life are worse than being lost with a dozen excited children in the car.

-If your group is exceptionally large, consider splitting it into two teams. You could, in fact, separate into older and younger students, especially if there are certain areas of your destination that are more suited to one versus the other. For example: if you decide to take a "fun outing" to an amusement park, your group could split up into pre-teens and teens. This way you won't have people too short to ride the rollercoaster waiting around while the taller students live it up.

-If there will be an assignment following your trip, be sure to brief everybody on it sometime between getting on the road and starting in on the fun. If you want the students to write an essay about what they learned at the wax museum, be sure they know about this so they can take notes or pay attention to specific things they know they'll want to write about. You can also ask them a few questions during the visit and point out particular items or exhibits. (Simply saying, "Hey, that looks cool," can do wonders on children of almost any age.)

-Dress appropriately. Check the weather forecast before you leave and be sure to remind everyone to bring the right gear: jackets, sunscreen, gloves, or whatever you might need. Dressing for the day also means comfort and functionality: you don't want to take a bunch of kids rock climbing in khakis and loafers!

-Plan for frequent breaks, especially if your group includes younger children. Restroom stops, water breaks, and time for everybody to either a) sit down or b) run off excess energy can make a huge difference in the overall outcome of the day.

-Take the cameras. Snapshots and printed digital photos make great additions to the group's bulletin board or memory wall.

-Don't forget snacks, money for the souvenir stands/gift shops, and a sense of humor. You're making memories: not only with your children, but with everybody else's. Have fun, enjoy the trip, and make it something you'll want to talk about twenty years from now.

Trending Now

© High Speed Ventures 2011