We all have an idea in our minds about what a large homeschooling family looks like. I always thought if you have to drive a fifteen passenger van in order to fit your immediate family members into one vehicle, you are a large family. Others, look at my pregnant self with four kids within arms reach and consider us a large family. I’ll admit I certainly agree with them when I get the check at a restaurant, or even just the local ice-cream stand! However you define a large family, the question often arises when parents begin thinking about planning field trips for the upcoming school year.
Is it worth budgeting specifically for field trips?
Should we just take the year in stride and see what comes up?
Maybe we will focus on only local sites.
Or, this could be the year to plan one large excursion.
When the kids were little, I never really did a whole lot of planning. Different opportunities would always seem to present themselves and we somehow kept busy throughout the years. Now that the kids are getting older, there are certain places I want to take them and different sites I would love for them to experience. To be honest, when they are younger, I would simply want to get out of the house, so to have a chance to get a tour of the fire station or a local kids museum seemed like it was more of a break than an educational experience!
Now, the opportunity for my kids to learn things, in a hands-on and practical way is important, and, in certain cases worth the expense.
I try to be as thrifty as possible, since I do have quite a tight budget for anything homeschool related. That said, I still do budget for field trips, at least a few throughout the year, so my children have a chance to step outside the box a bit.
If you have a large family, and you too want to plan some field trips this year, consider some ideas that might be less expensive than your typical, traditional field trip.
Visit An Airport
Some airports will allow tours of the airport for free. You can schedule this in advance and I have heard of some airports even allowing the children to enter a jet and go into both the cabins and the cockpit!
Bring along some spotter cards to make a fun scavenger hunt out of it.
Ask Living History Museums About Possible Homeschool Days
We have several living history museums in our area. Some with a Native American theme, others more colonial. Most of these are primarily set up outdoors with people dressed in period clothing performing time period appropriate tasks, (basket weaving, spinning, blacksmithing, etc). These types of museums are always fun for families to experience together but can be a bit on the pricey side. Fortunately, many of them offer homeschool days with a significant discount for homeschooling families.
Ask About Any Homeschool Discounts
If the location that you are considering visiting does not have a specific homeschool day planned, ask about any possible homeschool discounts. Some zoos, museums and historical sites have such discounts. Some require that you have a group of a certain amount of homeschoolers in order to receive the discount so simply plan a date with some of your local homeschooling friends!
Tour A Cookie Factory
Are there any factories in your area? Cookie, candy or the like? Call them up and ask if they offer tours. Many do, but not all are set up for people to visit. If they are though, they usually are free or only a few dollars. It is a great opportunity for kids to see the inner workings of something that they might not ever have a chance to see otherwise.
Go At Night
I’ve seen museums in several states offer discounted ticket prices if you visit in the evening. This is common in larger cities. Call ahead to see if the museum you want to visit offers this deal. I’ve even seen one museum offer $2 tickets on a specific evening when they normally change around $10 or more!
Visit Washington, D.C.
Even if you live far away from the area, remember that basically every location you’d want to visit there is free. You can visit the Smithsonian museums, monuments, memorials, the National Zoo, all for free. And of course this can’t be done in one day, so if you do choose to make a several day trip out to Washington DC, at least the activity portion of the trip is covered!
So even if you are a large family, know that it can be done! As you plan for the upcoming school year, be creative with your field trip ideas. Think outside the box, there are plenty of possible options out there that won’t break the bank!