For many homeschooling families — ours included — field trips are one of the best parts of homeschooling. Field trips offer an opportunity for fun, hands-on learning that you just can’t get anywhere else and, because you’re both parent and teacher, you can ensure that the field trips you take tie in perfectly with your topic of study — unless it’s a just-for-fun field trip, but those are just as valuable as the educational ones, as far as I’m concerned.
So, you’d like to go on a field trip, but how do you go about planning a successful one? While it’s fun to go on a trip as a family, planning a bigger outing for your local homeschool group can be lots of fun, too, and may open up opportunities that aren’t available for individual families. With these six simple tips , it’s not hard to plan a smooth and successful outing for your homeschool group:
1. Because it is impossible to arrange a date and time that will be convenient for everyone, plan your field trip at a time that is convenient for your family and then invite the group to join you. If you’re planning and organizing the trip, you don’t want to add stressing over the time to your list of concerns for the day. Planning the time that works for you isn’t selfish, it’s a sanity-saver.
2. Keep the details of the trip organized so that you can find and refer back to them easily. It doesn’t matter if you keep them in your planner or a spiral-bound notebook, as long as you know where they are. OneNote is my planning tool of choice. It’s a good idea to post the details for your group in a central location, such as a message board, email group, or newsletter, if the option is available. Doing so can prevent you from having to answer the same questions multiple times.
3. Make sure that you are clear on all of the details of the outing. Questions to ask when planning the field trip may include:
- Who is the contact person and what is the best way to reach him or her?
- Are there age restrictions?
- Are there minimums/maximums on the number of participants?
- Are you required to pay in advance? As a group? Individually?
- Are there discounts for chaperons?
- Is there a penalty for canceling? Is there a date by which you must cancel to avoid a penalty?
- How is the parking? Should families carpool? Will they need to pay for parking?
4. If there is a minimum number of participants required or if there is a cancellation penalty, it is advisable to ask those attending to pay you, the organizer, in advance and to give a due date for those advance payments. It is also wise to make it clear that there will be no refunds or stipulate that refunds will be issued only if trip is canceled or if any individual cancellations do not affect the group as a whole.
5. If there is a maximum number of participants, it’s a good idea to keep a waiting list of those who would like to attend once your maximum number has been met. Life happens and there’s always a strong possibility that someone who had planned to attend an outing may have to cancel, opening up a spot for someone else.
6. If you’re paying as a group, it’s a great idea to keep the details on an envelope in which you can collect the money. I write the date and location of the trip, as well as the contact person’s name and phone number on the front of the envelope and the names of those who have paid, along with the amount paid, on the back.
A great source for field trip ideas, planning tips, and follow-up questions is the book The A-Z Guide to Homeschool Field Trips by Greg Harris. Unfortunately, the book is out of print, but I see copies of it every so often at the used book store or used curriculum sales.
Have you planned field trips for your homeschool group? What suggestions would you add?
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