One of the most common misconceptions about homeschooling? That it only happens at home! Field trips are one of our favorite learning tools for exploring our children’s interests and bringing lessons to life—because all of the learning happens in the real world!
If you’re catching up on field trips over the summer or planning to take more during the school year, here are four ways to make the most of your homeschool outings.
1. Before you go, use books to get your child excited about where you’re going!
From the zoo to the beach, our unit studies are packed with beautiful book suggestions that can help your child know what to expect and whet their appetite for what they’ll see, hear, and do on their next field trip.
Check your local library or online resources like OpenLibrary.org for free books that can help you both get excited about your adventure, or, if you’re an L+L member, check our book lists for a corresponding unit.
2. Think ahead—but don’t overthink it.
The beauty of a field trip is that learning will happen naturally on its own. So consider planning a mini scavenger hunt or some other interactive activity to complete on the field trip, but don’t worry about packing the day with intentional lessons. (You can finally take it easy!)
This can also be a great opportunity to practice child-led learning. Instead of trying to direct your child, take a backseat while they explore! See what naturally draws their attention and how they like to gather information. Are they interested in reading every sign and placard along the way? Or do they prefer hands-on exploration so they can learn by doing? Is solo searching more their thing? Or do they have more fun when you join forces with another family? Pay attention to how your child likes to learn best “in the wild,” and then do what you can to bring these elements into your intentional homeschool lessons.
3. Be intentional about your conversation.
During the field trip, point out things your child may have learned about and ask questions to help them make connections. “Do you see the elephant’s habitat? I see his food, his place to sleep, and his room to run around…what else does his habitat need?” Try to also ask questions that allow them to express their own thoughts, opinions, and ideas about what they are learning.
You can also use conversation to empower your child to have an active role in their education. If possible, give them control over where you go within the field trip or what you look at next. Afterward, ask them if they saw anything they would like to learn more about in lessons. When your child feels like they have a say in their education, you’re less likely to encounter resistance when it’s time to do lessons.
4. Remember, field trips should be fun—for your child and you!
The best part about letting your child take the lead? You get a break from making all the decisions! Practice letting your child take the lead completely, giving them the power to choose which exhibits you look at first or how long you linger over a certain area. Let their natural sense of discovery direct the day—and give yourself permission to relax and learn, too!