10 Rules for Taking Field Trips
I have been attending support group field trips with my children for about 20 years. During that time, homeschooling has become more common and many places we want to go on field trips are no longer surprised to hear that we are homeschoolers. However, during that same time we have run into a few places that no longer accept homeschool groups. When asking why, we have learned to our disappointment that in some cases it is because the hoped-for field trip destination has had some bad experiences with homeschoolers and no longer wishes to deal with them. No amount of begging could get these people to change their minds. Consequently, not only have homeschoolers in this area lost the opportunity to visit some wonderful places, but in some cases the reputation of homeschoolers has been damaged.
At the beginning of each school year, it would be a good time to have a field trip manners lesson with your support group. Parents and children alike sometimes need to think about what it’s like to be a docent or tour leader. Perhaps your group would even like to consider creating some field trip rules. The following are ten examples. Some of them may seem obvious, but I have noticed some homeschoolers that could use these reminders.
#1 Book your field trip well in advance so that you and the destination have time to prepare. Let your group know what is expected, when to arrive and what will be discussed.
#2 Prepare your children ahead of time by explaining a little about what you will be doing and what the docent will be talking about. If your children are interested in the tour, they will be more likely to listen and behave. If you know the destination's rules, explain them to your children before arriving at the field trip.
#3 Once you commit to going on a field trip, please show up unless you are throwing up. OK, there might be a few other reasons to miss, but it is important to honor your commitments. On occasion, I have waited up to 30 minutes for a family to arrive that never showed up. Besides being rude, it can also cause financial difficulties in some cases. When museums and other locations provide docents, remember they are often giving up personal time to be there to teach you and less people could mean too many docents. It’s also possible that your tour will be shortened because of waiting for someone to arrive. On the other hand, do not come if you haven’t made sure you are expected —this can also cause undue stress for the field trip location.
#4 Arrive a few minutes early and assemble your group before presenting yourself for the tour. Remember that most destinations are used to school groups that arrive together on a bus and may not appreciate waiting around for one or two families to arrive.
#5 Listen to the rules of the location and follow them precisely. Make sure your children are following the rules. We hope that when we leave, the docents will be happy we came.
#6 Do not talk among yourselves during the tour. It is very distracting to have adults or children that do not listen while being taught. Teach your children to show respect for the teacher by listening carefully yourself. School groups will usually have activities in class that correlate with the field trip. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to ask your children to write about the field trips that you attend, also. This might encourage more listening.
#7 Teach your children to respond when the docent asks a question. If you have a large group, tell the students to raise their hands rather than just calling out answers.
#8 Don’t hesitate to ask questions during the tour. You might even want to help your children think of questions to ask ahead of time. Your family will learn more if they actively participate and it will show the docent that homeschoolers are really interested in learning. We hope this is true for most of us!
#9 Say please and thank you to the docent and any other people that help you during the tour. Being polite will set a pleasant tone and leave a good impression.
#10 Write a thank you note after the tour. Public schools often write thank you notes to the tour docents after the field trip. We would be teaching our children good manners and setting a good example of homeschoolers by doing the same. This could be a fun park day activity or one that families do on their own at home.
You may be able to think of additional rules for your group. Review your rules occasionally, especially if you see any problems cropping up. Good luck and have a great year!
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