Homeschooling families have unique opportunities to take planned, or even spontaneous, day trips. You can tie a trip into the curriculum or simply head out for a day of fun; either way, the option to take off for the day is a benefit to homeschooling that cannot be rivaled.
Day trips are inexpensive, no need for a hotel room, and can be just as much fun as an extended trip. Children won’t have time to be annoyed by each other, or you by them, when you are only gone for a few hours, especially if you include interesting pit stops along the way. Oftentimes, the best memories are made during unplanned stops prompted by an interesting road sign or the amazing food discovered at a small town diner.
Educational day trips don’t have to be boring walks through marble hallways lined with oil paintings but could include a visit to a Civil War battle site to make American history real, taking a sketchbook to an interestingly designed building for a child interested in architecture, or wandering through a botanical garden as an introduction to biology. You can make your educational day trips a little more formal with scheduled trips to a dairy farm, a manufacturing plant, or a guided tour of a nature reserve or museum. Let older children take the lead in planning a day trip that will coincide with an upcoming theme and you might be surprised by the creative ideas and thoughtful scheduling they suggest. Even a subject as innocuous as addition math facts can be incorporated into a day trip with a little forethought: graph car colors in a parking lot and add them together, collect pine cones and form equations in the dirt, or count the windows on each floor of a tall building.
Of course, day trips don’t need to be all about education. State parks abound and are open for hiking, picnics, and nature watching; kids will be learning about biology, physics, and chemistry while they run and explore.Children’s museums are crafted specifically to teach through play; most offer an amazing assortment of learning opportunities across the spectrum. Cultural exhibits alone might expose kids to geography, reading and comprehension, map concepts, and dramatic arts. When you add in biology, physics, magnets, art, math, and food science, it is easy to see why children’s museums are so popular and well-loved.
A day trip doesn’t even have to include a car! Take a bus ride around your own or a nearby city and observe the differences in people, buildings, and vehicles. Visit a college campus and wander through small art exhibitions, the library, and lecture halls. Pack picnic lunches and bike to a park or nature reserve and simply spend the day playing and enjoying creation. Tour a local sports stadium for a peek at the locker rooms and media room, maybe even glimpse a player or two.
There are so many options for great day trips, don’t stifle your imagination as you brainstorm. And remember that even the most boring destination can be made fun, and educational, with the right attitude.
For 15 years Mimi Rothschild has been privileged to help hundreds of thousands of homeschoolers educate their children at home. The MorningStar Academy is a private online Christian school offering diplomas and teachers. The Jubilee Academy is an online Christian curriculum provider offering over 150 full year online Christian courses for PreK-12.