Note: I originally wrote this in 2012 for my (no longer active) Houston Field Trips blog. -Rachel
No matter how your family approaches homeschooling, Field Trips have a great deal to offer!
As Unschoolers, we don’t have a set “curricula”. Some of our trips correlate to an interest our children are currently exploring. However, many provide the impetus to further explore a topic they have yet to engage.
Families utilizing other homeschooling approaches have also found Field Trips will enrich their studies. A trip to the Civil War Reenactment complements a unit study on Abraham Lincoln. Visiting a local Pioneer Farm brings Laura Ingalls Wilder books to life and gives literature-based based families hands-on experience. Spending the day at the local state park is an excellent way for Charlotte Mason families to expand nature study beyond their own back yard. The Houston Gem & Mineral Show enhances an online Geology class.
Many factories and businesses only offer the “behind the scenes” look to organized tours. We have been blessed to see ice cream made at Blue Bell Creamery, hot dog buns at Mrs. Baird’s, and grocery store management at H-E-B. Children (and adults) benefit from learning the ingredients and processes that go into their food.
I have to be honest, it grieves me a little to hear people speak of Field Trips as inferior to classroom or textbook learning. Particularly, kinesthetic and visual/spatial learners benefit the greatest from time away from a desk (or dining room table). Even while reading books, our son HAS to be moving in order to grasp the material. Forcing him to sit still and face forward would be the equivalent of plugging his ears and masking his eyes.
Equally concerning is to “schoolify” a Field Trip with a litany of pre/per/peri/post- worksheets and tests. It was disconcerting to watch a mom pull her son away from a hands-on demonstration, tap on the boy’s clipboard, and hear her say, “We’re not here to spend all day at booths, just answer the question on the worksheet and let’s move on.” He missed the opportunity to watch Civil War Era camp set-up so he could circle “none of the above”.
Have you ever had a huge family event (wedding, birth, vacation, etc.) and years later everyone remembers it differently? You sit around and talk about what was special to you and what you remember best. One person can distinctly remembers the music playing, another the food, another architecture, while you remember a special conversation you had. Does that mean that others experienced it wrong? No! It’s wonderful that we each carry a unique impression and we compliment each other so well. Consider blessing your children with the opportunity to observe, explore, and participate uninhibited.
Learn more about Rachel on our Contributors page.