Two weeks ago we took three homeschooling field trips in one week. I have been shuttling small children to appointments for six years now. I have always used a mental checklist of things to look into before leaving the house. It seems I keep adding to it every time we go somewhere.
Now that I have a blog, I decided to write it all down. Here are my 26 tips for an easier homeschooling field trip:
1. Check the weather prognosis the night before. We have had cooler weather recently (63F) and so I figured I should wear long sleeves and long pants for the TVA Fair field trip. If I had known it was going to be 80F, I would have worn shorts and short sleeves.
2. Dress for the occasion. An event called “Down on the Farm” calls for sports shoes or boots. A science class at Ripley’s Aquarium, in air conditioning, might call for an extra layer, at least for me.
3. Download and print a venue map from their website. Familiarize yourself with the entrance(s), exit(s) and bathroom locations. These days, terrible things happen in malls, museums and other benign public places. Have the map handy while you walk around.
4. Check the schedule of the venue, especially if you are there for a shorter program. Do they close for lunch? Do they close for cleaning? The TVA Fair closed down the rides between 3-4pm. If I had known about it, we would have ridden a few rides first and then picnic.
5. Find out how to get ride tokens ahead of time. Knowledge is power. When you have to stand in line in the hot sun, it is good to know where the next token-selling booth is.
6. Check your gas tank the night before.
7. Pack changes of clothes and shoes for the children and for yourself. Children spill drinks all the time, sometimes on mommy.
8. Bring some reading materials as well as crayons and drawing pads. If you get stuck in traffic or if your destination is more than twenty minutes away, your children need to be occupied in the car. Mine like to thumb through pictures books and doodle.
9. Play classical music CDs in the car. It trains their ears to appreciate good quality music.
10. Think about investing in traveling pillows or use the ones from home. My children do not take a nap anymore at the house, but, occasionally, they fall asleep in the car.
11. Play CDs with stories or foreign language CDs. Do not underestimate car schooling.
12. Use sunscreen. If your field trip is mainly outdoors, have it handy so you can apply every two hours.
13. Wear hats with wide brims, if it’s sunny.
14. Get rain gear – think small umbrellas or ponchos – if it’s overcast.
15. Take along their favorite stuffed animal, for the car.
16. Explain to the children ahead of time what the schedule will look like. If there is a gift shop and you do not want to buy anything, tell them so before you get there. Some places make you exit through the gift shop. When your children start asking for a cute stuffed pink octopus, you can remind them (and yourself) of your discussion.
17. Don’t forget your camera.
18. Ditch the purse. Carry a backpack instead.
19. Bring a stroller if you have a child under five.
20. Have cash on hand. You never know.
21. Bring business/calling cards. Sometimes you will meet new homeschooling moms on a field trip. It is hard to write down a phone number while supervising children running around. Producing a business/calling card out of your pocket is quick, easy and professional. Vistaprint.com is a great source for any type of cards.
22. Save the coordinator’s number in your phone so you can call her if anything comes up.
23. Pray before, during and after the trip, especially if you see everybody getting tired and cranky.
24. Watch your attitude. Your children will imitate you. If you are enthusiastic, they will be, too.
25. Give yourself fifteen extra minutes to get to your destination.
26. Don’t forget to have fun.
Homeschooling is such an adventure. I am stretching myself out of my comfort zone and embracing the challenge of field trips. Veteran homeschooling moms swear by them as educational opportunities, so I’d better learn to enjoy field trips quickly. What is your experience with field trips? Please leave me a comment below. This post is linked up to