I know I blogged about field trips in the fall. However, the topic has been discussed in various homeschool groups. One parent attended a homeschool convention and learned a new view on field trips. Funny is, that view is what I always held–field trips are experiential learning and can be to anyplace. Another parent never considered counting her field trips as educational or recording them on logs until it was discussed on Facebook. Thus, I started thinking that many homeschoolers might never even think that any place could be field trips.
I want to be clear that field trips could be to anywhere, not just special paid attractions. Yes, I include parks, restaurants, stores, community events, etc. If we leave the house, it’s a field trip. And, all field trips are educational which is why I refer to field trips as road schooling. When going to stores my son is learning about budgeting, money management, price comparison, calculating unit prices, and interacting with members of society. He is my calculator man. He enters the numbers and finds it a huge game. Little does he realize it’s an important life skill when he is older so that he doesn’t overpay as well as help him stay within budget. In addition, he observes the dynamics between customer and employees and he participates in the interactions. Some of the stores we go to are because he wants to ask specific questions to the employees (pool supply shops, electronic parts outlet, home improvement, etc.) These are some of the best field trips because he is leading the interaction, learning how to ask questions and getting answers.
Many field trips do not have to cost a lot of money. Yes, there are lots of great museums and science centers. However, these can get expensive. We are lucky to live in Houston, TX and thus almost every museum and zoo has a free day or a set time each week that is free. We take advantage of that. There are also lots of lesser-known museums which are always free or extremely low cost. All of the major theaters in Houston allow homeschoolers to attend educational performances which are significantly cheaper than the weekend or evening shows. In addition, the theaters have curriculum guides and educational information about the show you see. Museum and zoo memberships can make it more affordable especially if they have reciprocity at other museums (including in other states). We have used 2 of our memberships to gain access to museums and zoos in other states for free. Many companies and factories will give tours for free or at low cost. We have gone on factory tours in other states when on vacation visiting family. There are also lots of roadside attractions that might be odd but are free and can be both fun and educational. State Parks and National Parks are also great treasures which run lots of educational programs including junior ranger programs. Our son has quite the collection of junior ranger patches from Wisconsin State Parks, Texas State Parks, and several National Parks. The National Parks have a couple days each year when they are free. Some states run free days for their state parks too, but most have free admission for kids all the time. In addition, some of the historical sites across the country run homeschool days or include homeschoolers in on their educational days. We have gone to several re-enactments this way and it’s way cheaper than full price on a non-special event day.
Roadschooling and frequent field trips is one of the many benefits of homeschooling. Our zoned public school does only one field trip a school year. The public charter school we were at before homeschooling did two field trips. Given the wealth of information available in the community, that is not enough field trips. Field trips offer experiential learning and the ability to apply knowledge learned from the curriculum being used. And, pending where you go, the field trip could count as physical education, social studies, science, art, music, social skills, or even multiple areas. I know that not all states requiring documentation of homeschooling, but we do and field trips are part of it.
The following is a list of resources to help you find field trips in your area (sorry, mostly just the US & Canada):
- Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op has a field trip resource for the US & Canada: http://www.homeschoolbuyersco-op.org/field-trips/
- Factory Tours has a list of all the factories that offer tours across the US: http://factorytoursusa.com/
- Field Trip Factory has a searchable database for class field trips (many homeschoolers can register for these too) by zip code across the US & Canada: http://www.fieldtripfactory.com/
- Roadside America has a searchable list of famous and/or odd roadside attractions all across the USA and Canada: http://www.roadsideamerica.com/
- Houston area (for those who live in our area) museums: http://houstonmuseumdistrict.org/houston-loves-museums/
- American Alliance of Museums has a list of accredited museums by state: http://www.aam-us.org/docs/accreditation/list-of-accredited-museums.pdf?sfvrsn=0
- ASTC Passport Program allows your membership in any one of their museums to get reciprocity to all of the other membership museums: http://www.astc.org/passport/
- Museums USA has a database of museums by state or by area: http://www.museumsusa.org/museums/
- National Park Service has a searchable database to find a national park near you: http://www.nps.gov/findapark/index.htm
- List of national memorials: http://www.pleacher.com/np/visits/allnme.html
- NPS also has a list of national landmarks by state: http://www.nps.gov/nhl/find/statelists.htm
- BLM has a list of national monuments and national conservation areas: http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/blm_special_areas/NLCS/monuments.html
- Virtual Field Trips are another great way to learn about the world for those of us who can’t afford to travel to those destinations. Teacher Tap has links for virtual field trip ideas: http://eduscapes.com/tap/topic35.htm
Now, go out there and have some great experiential learning fun. Try some road schooling and you might find yourself as hooked on it as we are!