Field Trip Planning: 101
By: Krista Thomas
Everyone loves field trip day. Whether you plan one for the whole family or a specified day for the kids, field trips run the gamet: theme parks, museums, historical sites, zoos, and nature centers. Since many of these organizations host activities throughout the year, developing a field trip isn’t necessary. However, if you wish to discover the merits of creating a truly memorable experience but aren’t sure how, tag along and tap into possible field trip goldmines.
Single-family field trips – or those you plan yourself with yours truly – might be great for spontaneity, but field trips with multiple homeschool families beget social and educational aspects. The joys of bringing homeschool families together from all backgrounds shows solidarity in the homeschool cause to the organizations considering hosting programs. Utilizing untapped organizations for such field trips brings them monetary gain and benefits too.
To plan a successful field trip, name the objective or topic. Will this venture add to current curriculum or create new learning avenues? Hands-on field trips inspire even the oldest of attendees. Kids are sponges and will filter information that rocks for them personally. Behind the objective, the next step is to locate a potential field trip source.
Oftentimes, a sub-topic of generates specific learning objectives. For example, if the objective is to learn more about the Civil War, break down into sub-topics of that theme including the Underground Railroad, battlefields, characters, or monuments. This will lead you to local sites in your own backyard.
Museums are often a great choice as grants and funding allows for living history trunks, ranger talks, or hiking through nature trails. These experiences often help tell the story better than pictures from a book. To solidify the field trip experience after it’s said and done, follow-up learning with the location's website or other resources to bring the whole story together.
Next, consider costs of running a program for the homeschool community. Money is essential as the funds help untapped organizations create and run a program and work out the glitches. Programs should be covered in two hours or less (teaching time, that is) and the pricing structure should not cost more than $10/kid (if a higher price, the program should include a craft or hands-on activity).
Timing is everything. When choosing dates to run a field trip, stay away from dates that coincide with large, well-known regional events, seasonal inclement weather, holiday observances, and vacations. For younger age groups, field trips are best in the morning. For older age groups, afternoon times work best. Working out the details with the organization (possibly hosting one in the morning and one in the afternoon) can keep the crowds evened out and provide homeschool families with options.
To announce your field trip in the best possible way, utilize Homeschool Frederick! or other homeschool e-loops to reach area homeschoolers. Keep in mind the maximum number and minimum number of participants required to run a program.
Always ask for money up front from homeschool families (non-refundable regardless) to cover the cost to run the program. Committed families make field trips work and ease the stress to run them. Plus, organizations typically ask for 50% up front and you, the field trip organizer, should never foot the bill should some families back out for any reason.
Having an attendance sheet the day of the event keeps track for both the organization and you, the organizer. The benefits cannot be quantified and the memories of field trip programming will last a lifetime. Go ahead and plan!
About the author: Krista Thomas, homeschool mom of three, resides in New Market. Some of the best resources are the county libraries, nature centers, parks, and museums. However, untapped organizations that are lesser known create the best opportunities for field trips.