by JulieBeth Lamb
(Editor’s note. This article is aimed at homeschool leaders or those planning field trips for their groups, but has great ideas and reminders for groups or individual families planning field trips.)
Hands-on activities and field trips are the best learning tools on any subject. It is good to integrate them into every area of study. Creating these opportunities is lots of fun and easy if you know what to do.
Choosing an activity
- Prayerfully chose an activity that will not cause someone to stumble, and consider every aspect.
- Pick something that your family wants to do and that fits into your studies. Ask your students for ideas.
- Plan something simple for your first one.
- Activities that are open to students of all ages allow more families to participate and fit best into our group vision, however there will sometimes be trips appropriate only for older students.
- Find a topic of broad enough interest that many families will appreciate, but unique enough that it will be new to some people.
- Use a local option when possible.
Planning an activity
- Choose a morning time that allows families to get their homes in order before leaving for the day, or in the afternoon so other schoolwork can take place in the morning. Don’t allow activities to run late and hurt family dinner or nap times. I have found that 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. seem to be the best.
- Don’t plan too much in one day.
- When planning the price to charge for your field trip, make sure to cover all of your phone/mailing charges and give your family a discounted or free outing to compensate for your work. Charge at least a minimal amount even for a “free” field trip to cover your expenses and encourage accountability to those attending. Always have people pay in advance, and offer to refund if cancellation is before cutoff date.
- Get parking and concession information, find out how much it will cost and what options there are. Include that information in your confirmation sheet.
- If there is a maximum number of students/chaperones allowed, keep a waiting list and have families who can’t make it contact one of them to take their spot.
- If the trip is out of the area set up a caravan/carpool option and include accurate directions for everyone.
- Find out about accessibility for strollers, crutches, and wheelchairs.
- Let everyone know the meal options. List restaurants in the area and how much they charge. Note if snacks or sack lunches are recommended and where there is a place to eat them. If there is strenuous activity, suggest bottled water.
Preparing for an activity
- Pray over the activity for good fellowship, right hearts, safety, and true learning.
- Send a confirmation packet to each family with dates and times, directions, behavior expectations, and contact information for your destination and yourself, including a cell phone number for field trip day.
- Have a family sign and return a code of conduct agreement if not a member of the group.
- Find out as much as you can about the field trip. Many locations have teacher’s guides or curriculum they will share for free or inexpensive resources you can buy. Look online or at teacher supply stores for coloring/activity pages about the topic.
- Send a study packet containing all of your gathered information along with the confirmation to every family at least a couple of weeks in advance.
Following through an activity
- Start on time. Have everyone meet 15 minutes before the field trip and begin with prayer. Settle everyone’s hearts and open their minds to what God will have for them there, pray for safety over bodies and minds.
- Encourage older children and teens to help with babies and younger children.
- Help keep order in the group.
- Ask families to stay together and supervise their family, it is always awkward when someone has to discipline another person’s child.
- Explain behavioral expectations. Remind everyone that we are the face of Christ and homeschooling to those we meet. We must be good examples.
- End on time! As coordinator, you should keep the activity moving, sometimes requiring you to step in and limit questions, have people walk faster, or ask the host to wrap it up.
- Thank everyone involved. Have everyone bring thank you notes to give that day or get a name or business card to send them later. This is a very important example of good etiquette for our children as well as polite to our hosts.
- If you are visiting a retail business, patronize them if you can and tell everyone ahead of time what is available and the cost so they can be prepared.
Follow up on an activity
- Be sure to write thank-you notes to everyone who helped make the activity possible both at the location visited and in your group. A student-drawn and written note is the nicest.
- Encourage families to continue learning in the area with coloring/activity pages, resource lists, and other field trip or activity ideas.
- Have a student or parent write a story about the field trip or activity for the homeschool newsletter. Include a picture and student quotes if possible. Submit your story to the local newspaper also.
- Keep information about the trip in your “Field Trip” folder for yourself or another homeschool family to use in the future.
Field trips and activities are rewarding memory makers for everyone involved and great fellowship opportunities for homeschooling families. If you would like help planning a field trip, activity, co-op, or party, ask for help, there are many people who will assist you. Should you need ideas for fun field trip and activity ideas for your family ask any homeschooling veteran about their favorites.
Copyright 2006 by JulieBeth Lamb. Reprinted in the California Parent Educator, September 2015. Permission to share this article is granted for private use as long as you inform the author and it contains the following information. JulieBeth Lamb thanks God for allowing these words to flow through her and prays they are a blessing to others as God has allowed them to bless her. She and her husband Rex live in Oakdale, California and homeschooled their five children from 1993 to graduating their youngest in 2003. Contact her at [email protected] or 209-838-6062 or find her on Facebook at @LambpenHomeschoolMinistries.