This article provides ideas to help get the most out of your homeschool field trips.

One of the benefits of homeschooling is the flexibility to pursue unique learning opportunities outside the normal classroom and even beyond the realm of a structured homeschool curriculum. Homeschoolers can go anywhere and do anything that facilitates learning any given subject. So why not get creative and take advantage of great resources around you, many of which are free or very low cost.

Organizing a fieldtrip for your family or homeschool group can be easy.  Below are some suggestions for organizing a field trip for your family or homeschool group.  , as well as a list of guidelines…

1. Go when the kids are fresh.  Don’t wait until the day is half gone and your kids are starting to tire.  Choose a time when they are most alert and ready for walking and participation.
2. Bring food.  Whether it’s a full-spread picnic or a small snack, you and your children will want to eat at some point during your trip.  However, be respectful of facility rules and do not bring food or candy if it is not allowed.
3. Bring water.  Stay hydrated during your visit, especially if you are outside.  Respect the facility’s rules if beverages are prohibited.
4. Dress appropriately.  Be mindful of your activity and dress accordingly.  If you are going for a hike, wear boots or tennis shoes and dress for the weather.  Likewise, if you are attending a play or concert, business casual / dress clothes may be a more suitable option.
5. Relax!  Enjoy the time with your family and learn with your kids.  Understand that everything may not go exactly the way you planned, but if your family has a positive experience the trip was successful!

Field trips can help solve one of the most common criticisms and concerns about homeschooling; the lack of social interaction for kids. Field trips are a great opportunity to band together with other homeschool families as part of a joint field trip. The kids and the parents enjoy the interaction.

If you opt to go as a group, there are some things you need to consider which are specific to Groups:

1. Call first.  When arranging for a group to come, call the facility first to let staff aware of your group visit (out of courtesy).  By calling ahead you can also ask questions regarding your visit, arrange for a tour guide, or make special arrangements.  Since the facility will be aware of your planned visit, they are prepared to accommodate your group for a stress-free visit.

2. Know the number of people coming.

3. Be on time!  Designate a time and place to meet.  If you are the trip organizer, it is especially important that you are on time, and a good idea to arrive early.

4. Pay in advance.  Insist that group members pay in advance for a number of reasons.  If your group is large enough you may qualify for a discount.  It commits people to follow through.  It holds participants’ spots (important if it’s a desirable exhibit).  It creates less stress at the time of arrival.
Research.  Before you make definite plans or reservations for a trip, research the facility and surrounding area.  Find out basic information, like cost, operating hours, parking, children’s exhibits, food and beverage policies, and other nearby attractions.

6. Ask Questions.  Encourage your children to ask questions, especially if a tour guide or educator is available.

7. Relate the trip to what your kids are learning.  Are your kids learning about electricity?  Visit a local interactive science museum or tour a hydroelectric dam.  View our list of field trip ideas.

Another alternative for homeschool field trips is to skip all the travels and go on a virtual field trip. The Internet allows you to travel the world without leaving your house. For example, you can download the free Google Earth program which allows you to go on a 3D tour of anywhere on earth, including your own neighborhood! But don’t stop with your own town, cross the ocean to visit the Forbidden City in China. Visit the Holy Lands of Jerusalem and other cities in Israel.

Beyond, Google Earth, there are many other virtual trips you can take. We have scoured the Internet and provided a list of the best of the best sites here. There is no limit to what you can learn from a virtual field trip online!

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