Homeschooling doesn’t mean that all the learning takes place in the home. Field trips are an integral part of any well-rounded homeschool program, adding an element of fun and adventure to the learning process.
Because homeschoolers don’t need to work around the constraints of traditional school-day schedules or calendars, field trips can take place any time of the day or night, on any day of the week. For example, if you’re doing a unit on the phases of the moon, why not take your lesson outdoors one evening? If the only clear night happens to be a Saturday, it’s not a problem in the least.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. —Proverbs 22:6, KJV
There are many unique field trip opportunities for homeschoolers, including:
Math: From Farm to Freezer
Visit a local farm or dairy to learn how milk cows are cared for. Investigate how much — and what — they eat each day, along with the cost. Watch as the cows are milked and ask how much milk each cow produces in a day and how much the farmer sells that milk for. Is it all sold or do they keep any for themselves or make other dairy products with it? If the farm or dairy you visit doesn’t have an on-sight ice-cream or cheese making facility, follow the milk to a facility that does.
Many dairies or facilities that produce dairy products are happy to facilitate field trips. Your children can learn not only how ice cream is made but also what goes into the recipe and how much each ingredient costs. When you get home, homework includes figuring out how much it cost the farmer to produce the milk, as well as the expenses — and profits — involved in making the ice cream.
Science: Up Close and Personal With Nature
Schools take students on field trips to nature preserves and zoos to learn about animals, but not every animal is active during the daytime hours. If your child is working on a unit about bats, for example, you can go out after dark to a location where you’re likely to see bats flying around in the night, chasing after insects.
History: Travel Back in Time
Field trips allow you to bring lessons to life, even if that lesson is about an important historical figure who lived long ago. For example, if your child is learning about President George Washington and you happen to live in the Philadelphia area, you can visit Valley Forge and Constitution Hall, all in the same day.
You can even visit the site along the Delaware River where General Washington made his famous crossing. One of the advantages in homeschooling is that you can arrange for your own self-guided tours of local historical attractions and museums, spending as much time as needed at each location.
Music: March to the Beat of a Different Drummer
Your child will benefit from music lessons in the home, but taking him or her to visit musicians in action, whether it is in concert, in rehearsal or at practice, is a good way to learn about careers in music. Do you know if any instrument is manufactured nearby? If so, arrange a field trip to visit and learn how it’s made.
Civics: Check with your local township or city to learn when council meetings are held.
Visit a meeting with your child, if age appropriate, to learn first-hand how decisions are made at the local government level. After the meeting, encourage your child to introduce herself to your elected officials and perhaps ask a question or two.
When election time rolls around, turn your trip to the polling place to vote into a learning opportunity for your children. Make sure to explain the process before you actually enter the polling place.