Are you a little intimidated to take your homeschool out for a field trip?
Do you feel like homeschooling has you in over your head and you just can’t deal with anything else?
Are you feeling guilty about not taking advantage of field trip opportunities for your homeschool?
I totally understand!
Homeschooling is a lot to take on and field trips can be just one more thing on your plate right now.
I was definitely not in love with the idea of field trips when we first started homeschooling, but done my best and learned a lot!
We are going into our third year of homeschooling, and I want to give you my top tips that I’ve learned after 10 field trips with 3 kids(ages 8 and under).
10 Field Trip Tips for Young Homeschool Families
1. You Have to Plan Homeschool Field Trips
Field trips are like exercise – it just doesn’t happen organically.
You have to be intentional about planning and organizing field trips or you likely won’t go on any.
You don’t have to plan a whole year out, but you do need to take some time to decide where you want to go and get it on the calendar.
Kids love field trips, so having something official on the calendar will help a lot to get them excited and engaged.
If planning is something you can’t do right now, consider taking advantage of your local co-ops.
I have a friend who is only in a co-op because of the great list of field trips they do every year.
All planning and coordinating done for you!
2. Mind Your Budget
One of the mistakes young homeschool families can easily fall into is thinking that more money spent = more learning.
That is far from true!
If your budget is tight, there are many options to consider for free or inexpensive field trips.
You may have to be creative, but your child can still have a rich educational experience!
I’ll have a post coming soon with all the field trips we have taken, but for now check out this post from “Pre-K Pages” for some ideas to inspire you!
3. The Time You Go Matters
I learned this the hard and painful way.
I thought I was really slick taking my kids to these fun field trip destinations during the week – avoiding the big crowds you usually see on the weekends.
Ummm…I never considered that schools from all over the area would also be bringing bus loads of field trip kids to the same place.
It definitely rained on my learning parade.
Here is what I don’t like about a crowded field trip:
- Longer lines – food, bathrooms, etc.
- Increased anxiety about getting separated from my kids
- Lots of extra noise, stimulation, and distraction is a recipe for a fatigue tantrum…for all of us
- Less learning happens when you are just trying to fight the crowds and get through the experience
If you’re not a fan of crowds either, call ahead and ask when their slow times/days are.
I have had great success most recently with going to a popular farm around 1pm. The school field trip crowd was boarding the busses and the place was ours!
We were told there were 1,500 kids there that morning. Yikes!
As you can see from this picture of my daughter, the place had just a handful of people here and there walking around.
It was so peaceful, and dare I say – easy – to enjoy the trip and have fun with my kids.
4. How Long You Stay Doesn’t Matter
I want to give you permission right now homeschool mama – if your kids indicate they are done, it’s okay to go home.
In fact, I would tell you to start home BEFORE your kids are done.
Do not try to read them one more thing on a sign.
Do not drag them to just one more exhibit.
Do not quiz them with more questions.
Do not offer them a journal page or a worksheet.
Do not try to validate your homeschool with how “successful” you want this field trip to be.
When little ones get tired, they often go from smiling to nuclear meltdown in seconds.
I try very hard to keep an eye on my kids and gage the perfect time to leave. Maybe we don’t see everything, and that is okay.
An exhausted child being drug around on a field trip is not learning and internalizing information anyways.
I don’t want them to see learning as a checklist.
5. Consider What They’re Interested In
You may have an AWESOME field trip idea for your kid, but if they’re not into it – it will likely flop.
It would be such a waste to spend money, time, and energy planning something your kids just don’t care about.
I had a fantastic idea to do a day long bus tour of Washington DC to see all the sites we had studied about that year.
I was super excited about it, so I was very disappointed when my child said she didn’t want to go.
Thank goodness I had not bought the tickets yet!
She is young and there is time to enjoy those things when she is older. There is no sense in forcing her on a field trip that she doesn’t care about (especially if it is expensive!).
When I asked her what she would rather do instead, she said she wanted to go to a historical home we had been talking about visiting.
I was so surprised she remembered!
Here she is with her sisters visiting part of the house:
Lesson learned: Ask your kids what their dream field trips would be and do your best to make that happen – you will have much more success!
6. Pack Snacks, Drinks…Always
This may be seem obvious, but it can be easily overlooked while rushing out the door.
When dealing with young kids, I have found that hunger and thirst are the top things that can cause any event to go south.
You may be thinking – “Oh well, there is food there, so I’ll just grab something then.”
What if the food stand is closed that day? (happened to us)
What if the line is super long?
What if they run out of the one thing your child wants?
What if the food place doesn’t open till noon and you child is having a low blood sugar attack at 10am?
What if their card reader breaks and they can only take cash? (happened to us too. such a rough day.)
You need a back up plan for feeding your kids in order to have a peaceful field trip.
As my Army Ranger dad would say, “Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.”
7. Invite Another Homeschool Friend, Your Husband, Or Other Family Member
Strength in numbers homeschool mama!
If you are too intimidated to venture out with all your little ones, I highly recommend asking another homeschool mom to go with you!
Another set of adult hands and eyes is huge when little ones need a potty break, somebody wants to stay looking a little longer, or someone needs a break to sit down.
If you don’t have anybody to reach out to – consider planning your trip around your husband’s schedule.
If that’s not possible – wait until family is visiting and make the field trip a part of their visit.
Educating your children AND entertaining out of town guests – Win Win!
8. Make it a Date If You Can
I have tackled a zoo field trip with my husband, several farm visits with my parents, and a historical home with my husband’s parents.
Those were all great, but sometimes it is so nice to take just one child for a one on one field trip.
If it is possible to get a baby sitter, your husband, or other family to watch the youngest ones – do it!
My oldest daughter and I had the joy of going to Mount Vernon together and had such a blast!
It was so special to walk all over the grounds, have lunch together, and talk with her – without chasing the younger ones.
We also went to see The Nutcracker together as part of our study of Tchaikovsky. Such a treat to enjoy this without worry of tantrums, whining, and bored kids rolling out of their chairs.
This idea may also save you some money on paying admission!
9. Don’t Be Too Pushy
This is a struggle for me.
I want the field trip to be memorable, meaningful, and full of learning.
But I have to keep that in balance with the fact that kids just want to have fun.
In the elementary years, do not do not do not be pushy with what you want the children to learn during the field trip.
Let them explore and find out what interests them – even if it’s not what you had planned.
You may have a perfect set of questions you want your son to ask the firefighter. But your son only cares about figuring out how their fire suits can walk through fire.
You may want to show your child all the different leaves at the nature reserve…but your daughter only cares about all the bugs.
Who cares! Back off and encourage them to learn.
Engaged children is the goal.
10. Plan a Surprise for the Road Home
Walking back to the car can be a minefield of pain if you don’t play your cards right.
Your young ones are likely be tired, whiny, and grumpy.
And there is almost always a gift shop to pass.
Why do they do that?!?!
Anyhow, I always have a trick up my sleeve to survive what could be a potential nightmare.
Telling the kids that there is a surprise in the car waiting for them, helps so much to get them motivated and moving.
The surprise is usually some piece of candy or a special DVD to pop in for the ride home – sometimes both.
I tell them it is a reward for a full day of learning!
And it’s also a teacher’s appreciation gift to myself! 🙂
There You Have It – My Top 10 Field Trip Tips!
There are my top 10 homeschool field trip tips!
I hope they help you ease into the world of field trips and figure out how it can work for your homeschool!
I hope this gives you the confidence, motivation, and inspiration to get brave and get out there!
Do you have tips of your own? We’d all love to hear what works for you so we can add it to our tool bag.
Just comment below!
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