Thursday, October 30, 2008

Homeschool Memoirs - Field Trips

One of the joys of homeschooling is taking learning on the road. So often we get to leave our regular booksbehind for a few hours or a whole day and learn in 3-D.

We have enjoyed:

children's museums,


forest preserves,

science museums,


shop tours (grocery stores and yarn making from wool),

fire departments,

and touch a truck days.

When more of my kids were younger we visited the zoo frequently and we learned so much in the process. I never realized how much educational information the zoo offered. We read the signs, took the 'quizzes' along the trails, and watched the animals interacting. I never knew that trips to the zoo could be so educational. I realized why as I watched the other field trip groups at the zoo. Groups of 10-20 kids often passed us by with an adult or two at the front and back with everyone paying more attention to their fellow classmates or just staying in line than what the zoo actually had to offer.

I also realized, that it was rather easy not to take advantage of all the benefits of a zoo trip myself. I did enjoy just going to the zoo to relax, be outside and spend time together, but we could get so much out of the time as well. Also, as their teacher I know what they are studying in each of their subjects and how anything that we might come across might relate to their studies.

Unfortunately, I need to work harder to keep the balance here at times. When we enjoyed a family trip to Starved Rock recently I realized that the fort display and information in their visitor's center on beaver trapping fit in well with my 4th grade daughter's history studies I drew her in. She said, "I thought this was a day off school." Um, yeah. So much for that "love of learning" theory . . . My second grader on the other hand can't get enough, and wants to read every sign and pour over every artifact on display.

So, while my favorite field trips are the museums, zoos, state parks, and factory tours, in the name of balance I had to ask my kids for their input.

Blake said his favorite was the arena football game.

Paige's favorite was the local arcade/fun center.

Faith's was anything.

I do have to say that while their favorites aren't really ones that I call "field trips" they did have a connection to our schooling. Many, many places offer incentive programs for kids and give freebies in return for reading or other academic activities.

We have earned tickets to baseball games and football games, water park admissions, tokens for arcades, free donuts, kids meals, admission to Great America, pizza, and many other goodies for time spent reading and earning good grades. I definitely want my kids to enjoy reading, but some need that extra nudge to get their nose in a book more often. And, those that do read willingly, why not benefit even more from that time well spent.

I would definitely encourage you to ask around and look for reading incentive programs. The worst they can do is say, "no," but you might be surprised at the rewards available for time spent reading. And, in the process you just might discover your child's favorite "field trip."

For other's favorite field trips, feel free to peruse the Homeschool Memoirs Meme for the week.


Dahlia said...

I'm also a fun loving person & love to got for family trips, I usually got them arranged through Marriott.

tammy said...

Oh so funny to read your daughter's comment about thinking it was a day OFF from school. :) I love to learn on our field trips, too and fortunately for the most part so does my daughter. hehe Interesting to see the answers your kids came up with as to what their fav. trips were.