Readers of my blog (and personal friends) have commented on the large number of field trips we take as part of our learning. And that is true. Since my children are all preschool- elementary age I focus on hands-on learning opportunities in our homeschool—which means we aren’t actually home very much! Our experience has been that retention is higher when we include hands-on learning or field trip experiences into our curriculum. I believe that would be the same for most children.
While it can be somewhat expensive to go on a large number of field trips each year, we choose to devote funds specifically to field trip experiences within our homeschooling budget each year. For us, it is just as important as a packaged curriculum, work book, or educational product.
One of the things I consciously try not to do, is go on a field trip just for the sake of going somewhere. My goal is to have our field trips aid us in our studies. Unfortunately, this means that many last minute field trip offerings with other homeschoolers do NOT fit our studies and we have had to forgo them.
For us, I find that when we incorporate a field trip into our studies it is more effective if we:
Have a learning objective. What is our purpose for going on the field trip? What are we hoping to see or learn more about? You have to be very specific.
Study, Read or Discus what we will see prior to going there. Although new things come up during a field trip, I never take my children on a field trip completely blind. They will get more out of it if they have something to reference prior to the trip. Usually we just read a few library books or even the facilities website.
Write down or discuss any questions we have about the subject just before the field trip. It’s really just as simple as, “I want to find out if…” Or , “I want to know how come…” This also helps the children when they have opportunities to ask questions—it jogs their memory if we discuss this just before the field trip.
Follow up our field trip with additional study, labs, lessons or research. You should never just go on a field trip and then just forget about it afterward! Extend the field trip by continuing your studies at home.
The concepts my children have grasped during a field trip and the things they remember after a field trip is what keeps me motivated and encouraged in my homeschooling efforts. Yes, it is more work to plan out lessons and field trips this way, but the returns are more than worth the extra effort.
I hope you enjoy following our learning adventures.
If you are a homeschooler in Florida I invite you to join us on the Young Florida Naturalists Blog. I am posting my lesson plans and resources on this blog and you will be able to see what other Florida homeschoolers are doing and share your own ideas, projects and field trip experiences.