Any homeschooler can tell you there are both good and bad parts of taking the leap of home education. Certainly you’ll see some of the bad things crop up in this blog from time to time. But since I don’t feel the good parts get enough praise, I thought I’d put them up every so often. Number one is easy — field trips. In the average elementary school, kids can plan on two field trips a year, three if they’re lucky. Likely one of those field trips won’t even seem very spectacular. When Pumpkin was in public kindergarten, they took a field trip to the pumpkin patch and a field trip to a local grocery store. The grocery store trip was a walking field trip and sounded lame even to me.
We take two field trips a month. I utilize the field trips that our Charter offers, I utilize field trips set up by the local homeschool support groups I belong to, and I set up some on our own. Kids like to touch, to discover, to go new places and see new things. For Pumpkin, these are nearly reward worthy. Sometimes the results are a surprise. Last year we went to the Midway. It was a long drive and Pumpkin was in a mood on the way down. I can remember thinking it was going to be a disaster. But when we got there, he loved it. He loved poking around that big ship. He loved discovering how they made so many people fit in tiny compartments. He didn’t want to leave.
On the other hand, as much as he loves art, art museums have mostly been a bust for Pumpkin. I’ve gotten a feel for what will be a hit and what will be a dud. It boils down to this — the more hands-on, the better.
We took the first field trip of the year today. We headed to the San Bernardino County Museum in Redlands. We’ve gone before, but it’s been a while.
This museum is not huge and not expensive. But they do have a lot of stuff to look at. There’s a large section on birds. Visitors can compare eggs and hear bird song. There’s also a lot of taxidermy birds, some of which are out to touch so vistors can feel the feathers and really see their size comparisons up close.
Currently, there’s a big display on clothing of the last 150 years. The big draw for kids in this is a trunk of clothes from the 1800s to try on, and a rack of hats. Nothing like playing dress up for school. My tag along, Ducky, loved this part especially, even though the clothes are HEAVY.
There is a section to dig in the sand for mounted dinosaur bones (plastic replicas of course) and a live animal display that includes a blue tongued skink you can pet, a desert tortoise named Tonka that tries to eat your shoe laces, and mice that they’ll lift out for the kiddos to touch.
But the highlight of my day was when Pumpkin told me how much he adored this field trip, “Mommy, this is the best day we’ve had in a while. When is the next field trip?”
It doesn’t matter how many times I hear something like that, it always makes me feel really good. I want him to have a lot of days like this, and because we homeschool, because I’m not trying to take 30 kids someplace, I can repeat it regularly. Our next is in two weeks, of course. We’re going to the L.A. County Fair to pet farm animals, see the animitronic dinosaurs, and whatever else they have in store. No matter what, I know it will be special. I’ll be with my kids.