Things are trucking along nicely in school, then suddenly you hit a bump. Brains are not working quite so well. Everyone is sluggish and tired. What little “want to” might have once existed seems to have disappeared.
Could it be that everyone just needs a little break?
School Break Suggestions
We all need an occasional break, whether it comes in the form of an extended weekend or a full-fledged vacation. School is no exception. An extra day or week off every now and then will not keep our children from learning perseverance, nor will it demolish the school schedule. On the contrary, it just might help our children come back with a better focus and even give us the rejuvenation we need to get right back onto that schedule.
Consider these school break suggestions:
- a completely unstructured day of play and relaxation
- a game day
- extra read-aloud time
- extra outside play in the yard or at the park
- play dates
Perhaps, though, you want to take a break without completely pulling away from your studies. Maybe you need a change of approach and scenery more than a break from learning. If that’s the case, a field trip is the ideal school break activity!
Planning a Field Trip
Planning a field trip can be as simple as choosing an educational destination, such as a science or history museum. Or it can be as intricate as choosing your location based on where you are in your curriculum, highlighting a historical focus, scientific concept, or literary theme. Field trips can be short, fitting into a time frame of a few hours or less, or they can be incorporated into vacation plans and cover several days.
Obviously, the amount of time you wish to spend, your budget, and the ages of your children will help you narrow down field trip choices. Here are a few more thoughts to consider.
Make a Field Trip Wishlist
Every time you hear of a field trip in your area, write it down – with a few comments about location, cost, and subject matter – in the notes section of your On the Go or Well Planned Day homeschool planner. When you are ready to plan a field trip, all you have to do is choose from the list based on your current curriculum focus, budget, and time frame.
Search for Suggestions
Resources like Well Planned Gal’s Field Trip & Adventure Guide take care of the searching for you by publishing top field trip destinations of all kinds, as well an overview of what you will find in many of the locations, tips for visiting, and suggestions for incorporating the field trip into your curriculum.
Do a Little Pre-Scheduling
Even if you are more of a record-as-you-go type of person, you probably have an idea of what you will be exploring in school over the coming year. As you build your wishlist, consider your anticipated topics. Make plans to review your field trip wishlist at the beginning of every month and compare it to what you plan to learn that month. That will give you time to consider field trip logistics and work the trip into your schedule.
It’s easy to let a month, semester, or even entire school year go by without going on a field trip, especially once you get into the busier upper grades. Consider setting aside two to four days per semester for field trips. Then, whether you can find a trip that fits with your curriculum or not, just go!
Go With Friends
Do you have a local homeschool association or co-op? Friends who homeschool? Consider pairing up with others to take a trip. Often, groups of twelve to twenty can get group rates for field trip destinations. Other times, a group is allowed to engage or explore in ways that individuals cannot.
Incorporating the Field Trip into Your Curriculum
Adding a little extra effort into your planning makes it incredibly easy to work field trips directly into your curriculum. Consider these suggestions:
Research Before You Go
Many destinations offer downloadable teacher’s packets with scavenger hunts, questions, or “passports” to use during the trip. Even if these things are not offered, twenty to thirty minutes of prep work can help you recognize highlights to point out to your children along the way.
Some locations have resources specifically created for homeschoolers. Also, several of the destinations in the Field Trip & Adventure Guide will have curriculum suggestions that specifically apply to a wide variety of field trip destinations.
Turn The Trip
Into A Unit Study
Take notes or pictures that will help you assemble a lapbook when you get home. Continue the learning after you get home by reading and writing about your experience.
Replace A Lesson
With A Field Trip
Is it time to study mammals? Instead of reading a lesson about mammals to your children, teach it as you walk through the zoo. Plan a trip to a Civil War battlefield park to coordinate with your Civil War studies. Let your school curriculum help direct vacation planning. For instance, if a study of Lewis and Clark is anywhere on the horizon, head to Yellowstone National Park instead of the beach for vacation this year.
Did your son love that seafaring novel? Find a way to visit a ship replica. Do your daughter’s eyes light up whenever she hears the word archaeology? Research locations that allow her to try her hand at a dig.
Enjoying a Successful Field Trip
You’ve collected your ideas, planned well, and figured out how to work the trip into your curriculum. Now it’s time for the fun day! Here are some tips for a great field trip:
- Choose your locations wisely. Some businesses do not allow young children for safety reasons. Others may be boring for older children or might not hold the interest of younger ones.
- Study about the location before the field trip. Read books or articles, or watch documentaries, before you go.
If your children are old enough, have them memorize important contact information. Make laminated contact information cards to have younger students carry in their pocket.
- Discuss appropriate behavior and expectations ahead of time.
- Consider dressing your family in the same, bright color. If any of your children wander away, they will be easier to find.
- Dress in layers and wear comfortable shoes. Bring hats and gloves if it might be chilly out, and a raincoat or umbrella if appropriate.
- If possible, bring a stroller or carrier for a baby or toddler.
- After your trip, have your children write a thank-you note to the caretaker or speaker you met on your field trip.