Thursday, April 29, 2010

Field Trips Aren't Really School...or Are They?

I originally wrote this article as part of a series that will be appearing on The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's Fan Page on Facebook but thought it would appeal to some of my readers here as well.

I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but here in Northern Alabama it’s beginning to feel a bit like spring. With the warm weather comes an intense desire to put aside the school books and head outdoors for some incredible field trips! But field trips aren’t really school, or are they?

I think so. I've always believed that the best way my children could learn about something was through experience. That's why I've always been a firm believer in hands-on activities and lots of field trips.

As long as we've had kids, and certainly before we were "on the road" traveling with my husband's job, we've visited parks, zoos, and museums. Even before our kids were old enough to appreciate or even realize we were there! Naturally, field trips, as we began to call these outings as they approached school age, just became a way of life for us.

Some of our most memorable lessons have been learned on a field trip. In fact, some outings have led to a deeper understanding and appreciation with the subject matter at hand while others have led to an interest that never would have developed otherwise.

When my children were younger, I kept a copy of The A to Z Guide to Home School Field Trips edited by Gregg Harris in my minivan. This book was an incredible resource that showed me how to turn nearly any common destination into a field trip with the background information, biblical application, vocabulary words and sample questions that it provided. This resource taught me that trips to the dentist, grocery store, post office and bank could and should be viewed as learning opportunities and I began to realize that learning happens all the time, all around us not just when we were sitting at home surrounding the dining room table with school books open.

If you sat down with my children and asked them what they’ve enjoyed the most over the 11 years that we’ve homeschooled, most likely it would include a field trip. It could be a trip to Colonial Williamsburg which led to a study of Colonial Times and the Revolutionary War that I thought would never end. Or a trip to Washington D.C. that led to an incredible study of how our government works. Or a state park located 15 minutes from our home that was once owned by Pulitzer Prize winning author, Louis Bromfield.

Our field trips don’t have to be far from home, cost a lot of money or be elaborate to be successful, but they do have to arouse my children’s natural love of learning.


  1. Field trips are the best schooling there can be! One can learn or teach so much through hands on, and just going out and exploring the world around you. There is so much to be learned right in one's backyard!

  2. Field trips are the backbone to our homeschooling life. Going out and visiting places are much more interesting than just reading from a book. Field trips bring subjects to life!

  3. I agree wholeheartedly! That's why we go on field trips so frequently!:)

  4. We camped at and visited Malabar Farm a year ago. I loved it up there and I learned so much. I had, admittedly, never heard of Bromfield until we went there but I have since read one of his books.
    One of the things I love about living where we do is all the opportunity for exploring aviation. (Wright Brothers!) Not to mention all the inventors that came from Ohio. Endless opportunities. We are also lucky to have so many great metro parks with tons of activities available. I could go on and on. I love field trips too! :-)

  5. Jeanette, When we lived in Ohio we visited Malabar Farm frequently! It was one of our favorite places to go. We toured the house, took hayrides, enjoyed the festivals and even met with our homeschool co-op there. I still haven't read any of Bromfield's books, but have always planned too. In nearby Mansfield, you'll find Oak Hill Cottage which belonged to a cousin of Bromfield. It has been referred to as Shane's Castle in one of his books. We enjoyed our tour there as well. Maybe something for you to consider if you're ever in the area again. Blessings!:)


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