For Parents: How to Create a Free Field Trip

This is what field trips usually look like. You can do something different for your child.

When you think of field trips, you may think of a buss full of kids on their way to a museum, national park, or battlefield. Those trips can be great experiences, but with so many schools enduring budget cuts, those trips are happening less and less. But parents can put together informal trips to teach your child important life and academic lessons.

There’s a three step process to taking your child on a free field trip:

Step 1: Planning

Decide where and when you’re going to go. Do you need to prepare your child or explain anything in advance? Definitely prepare a list of questions to ask your child about the experience once it’s over. That’s an important step.

Step 2: Go!

Get out of the house. Go somewhere and explore. Have fun. Ask your child questions. Express your own observations. This is a great opportunity not only for intellectual stimulation but also for emotional bonding with your child.

Step 3: Talk about it

Remember that list of questions I mentioned? Pull them out over a meal at home, or memorize them and start asking during the drive home. Get your child thinking about what he saw and experienced. This is the most important step. The conversations you have with your child will allow him to synthesize and start to analyze his experience. This is where the magic of the field trip happens.

Don’t leave the experience for just one day, especially if the field trip is to a place that you visit often. Bring it up at the dinner table. Make connections between a trip to the grocery store (maybe for a lesson on percentages) and a trip to the mall (where percentages also apply). You can also connect a trip to the grocery store to a lesson on cooking dinner or baking cookies.

Need some ideas? All of the ideas below offer you opportunities to teach your child something outside of home and school. And all it will cost you is the gas it takes to get there.

Nutrition

  • Grocery store
  • Farmer’s market
  • Restaurants

Careers

  • College campuses
  • Neighbor’s houses
  • Your place of work

Animals

  • Pet store
  • Local park
  • Dog park
  • Animal shelters

Financial Literacy

  • The mall
  • Grocery store
  • Department and discount stores
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