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Are You Getting the Most Out of Your Field Trips?

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By Karin Taylor

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Homeschoolers have a unique advantage in that they are able to participate in many more field-trip opportunities than children in traditional schools. These valuable hands-on learning occasions not only lead to an increased love of learning but also a deeper understanding of the subject at hand. Are you taking advantage of this practical and helpful teaching tool? Are you getting the most out of your field trips or are you just going somewhere to go somewhere?

Here are some tips for getting the most out of your next educational field trip:

  • 1. Have a learning objective. What is your purpose for going on the field trip? What do you want your children to see or learn more about? Be very specific so you can select the best field-trip venue for your children's study needs.
  • 2. Prior to your trip, study, read, and discuss what you plan to see at your destination. You should never take your children on a field trip completely blind. They will get more out of it if they have something to reference before the trip. This can be as simple as reading a few library books on the subject or even taking a look at the website of the place you're going.
  • 3. Write down or discuss any questions your children have about the subject just before the field trip. It's really as simple as filling in the blank: "I want to find out if ________, "or" I want to know why________." This will also help if opportunities to ask questions arise, as the questions will be fresh in your children's minds, and they'll be focused on what they want to see and learn when you arrive at your destination.
  • 4. The learning doesn't end when the field trip ends, it only magnifies after a field trip!! Extend the field trip (and the learning) by taking the memories and learning home with you. Have your children create notebooks, write a report, research something that caught their interest a little more deeply, review highlights of their trip and what they learned, or look for more related books or educational videos. The key is to use the field trip as a launching point, not an end.

While it can be somewhat expensive to go on a large number of field trips each year, we choose to devote funds specifically for those experiences within our homeschooling budget. For us, it is just as important as a packaged curriculum, workbook, or educational product.

The concepts my children have grasped during a field trip and the things they remember afterward is what keeps me motivated and encouraged in my homeschooling efforts. Yes, it is more work to plan lessons and corresponding field trips, but the returns are more than worth the extra effort. I encourage you to take advantage of field-trip opportunities—and consider them a valuable tool in your homeschooling and not just a diversion.

Karin Taylor is a homeschooling mother of five. She writes about her homeschooling journey at PassportAcademy.com and shares online educational resources at EdResourcesOnline.com.

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