Sunday, February 20, 2011

To field trip or not to field trip?

I may not have a regular washing day or even remember to wash until we are all out of underwear. I don't force my children to keep their rooms spotless, usually requiring full clean-ups only when there's no path to the bed. I have my own piles of clothes and books in my own far-from-pristine bedroom. I am not a routine-oriented person in general. But when it comes to our homeschool schedule, I am a stickler. I know that there will be days when things come up and we must postpone a lesson or rearrange my expectations, so on a day-to-day basis, I am adamant that we stick to our lists. 

Within that schedule, I have a block of time on Friday afternoons that we schedule field trips. Our homeschool group likes to plan local excursions in the afternoon at the end of a long week. Sometimes they are for play; sometimes more structured. This past week, we attended an Art in Motion workshop at a small museum in Paris, KY. The topic was not related to anything we are studying right now, but it fit within our weekly schedule so we went just for fun. 

There are times, especially when the weather begins to change to sunnier days and balmier temperatures, that filed trips are suggested for times other than the convenient Friday afternoons, or when the kids and I just want to be anywhere but our school room. While I am all for excursions related to our studies, I find it difficult, at times, to justify purely social outings. It is counter to my years of training as a classroom teacher. As much as I would love to be one of those unschooling parents who can go with the flow, I think I am afraid of allowing my own unrestrained nature take over with something as serious as my children's education. 

On our trip last week, I took lots of pictures in hopes of just getting some good shots of the kids. As I viewed them, I realized that it doesn't matter that the kids probably don't remember the topic of Friday's lesson. There were other lessons to be learned that day. And, I am happy to say, I am coming around to the notion that these trips areas much a learning opportunity as ones about which I can make anecdotal references to the current history topic. 

I am not rationalizing field trips to ease my misgivings. I am not  giving myself permission to ignore the books. I am OK with the occasional pangs of guilt for not making everything in our routine "fun." No, I am truly encouraged by the life and learning experiences we all get from venturing out into the world with our friends. Take a look at some of the things we practiced just this week in one two-hour block...

So the answer, then, is TO FIELD TRIP! I don't have all the answers. Todd and I, together, can't offer the kids all they will need in life. Field trips offer the ultimate in social experiences and practice of life-long learning skills. Let's hit the road!

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