Field trips should be FUN, right? Of course! But if you’re like me, sometimes the effort to squeeze every bit of educational opportunity out of a field trip also threatens to squeeze out the fun factor for the kids. It hit me years ago when my kids would say things like, “Mom, we’re supposed to be on vacation!” or “Why does everything have to be about school?” and I made some adjustments to my expectations of field trips.
If you need to refocus on the fun in your field trips, try some of these ideas:
- Do you really need the worksheet or checklist? Or do you need to do it while you’re at the zoo or museum? Personally, I don’t even like juggling the notebook or the brochures while we’re on-site. I don’t want to miss seeing something because I’m looking at a handout to try and check something off the list. If you or your kids feel the same way, leave the papers for later. Chances are good that you can take everything in and remember it well enough to fill out a worksheet or make a journal entry later.
- Plan ahead and review afterwards. Obviously you want to look at the brochures and the maps and know what you’ll be seeing so that you don’t miss out! Often that info is available on a website so you can check it out ahead of time. If there are brochures and maps that you pick up at your field trip location, skim through them quickly for anything new that you need to know and then stuff them in a purse, pocket or backpack to look at in more detail when you get home. Those will help jog your memories as you write those journal entries too.
- Pick your educational activities wisely. So many museums, national parks, zoos, historical sites, and other destinations have a “For Teachers” type section on their website that there is an abundance of curriculum tie-ins to choose from. If you have the time to plan ahead, do look through those resources, but choose only what ties in well for what you are studying or is appropriate for your family. Remember, many of those teacher resources are intended for class trips and to accommodate public school curriculum standards, so they may not be relevant to your homeschool. Don’t overthink it and try too hard to make it work.
- See it today – study it later. This works best when you’re on vacation or summer break. It’s tempting to want to use all the educational value of EPCOT, for example, but if you turn your once-in-a-lifetime family vacation to Disney World into one long science and geography lesson, you might regret it. Take pictures, have fun, and follow the kids’ lead. If they want to discuss it on the spot, go ahead, but let them start the conversation. Then next year when you are studying marine biology or American history, you can say “Remember when we went to SeaWorld and saw the killer whales? Remember when we were in Philadelphia and saw the Liberty Bell?” and you will be able to relate their exciting vacation experience to their schoolwork.