One of my favorite parts of homeschooling (and the main reason we began homeschooling in the first place) was the freedom to go where we wanted – when we wanted. Throughout the years of traditional school, I noticed that field trips and outdoor experiences were becoming fewer and fewer. I wanted my kids to “experience” education, not just read about it in a textbook and memorize facts and figures. This began our journey into the world of fieldschooling.
Written by Dachelle McVey of Hide the Chocolate
What is FieldSchooling?
FieldSchooling is a relatively new term in the world of homeschooling. It’s composed of field trips, hands-on learning, experiencing education through all your senses, socializing, and learning life skills. This sounds like a jam-packed homeschool concept – and, truthfully, it is. And this is the reason we love it.
We get to add all the aspects of education that make learning fun, exciting and inspiring, while still checking off the curriculum boxes.
FieldSchooling is Hands-On Education
Education is more than filling out a workbook or completing a page of addition facts. It’s more than reading a textbook or watching a tutorial. These each have their place in education, but they are not the cornerstones of education. Education should be a living, breathing, tangible thing.
FieldSchooling brings hands-on experiences for your kids. Reading about the life of Shakespeare or reading his plays are educational and beneficial to children, but attending a Shakespeare play at the theater opens your child up to a whole new experience – an experience that binds the education to memories. These memories are easier to access for years and engrain the experience into their lives.
FieldSchooling is Learning Life Skills
When you head out to the local farm to gather eggs or learn to milk a cow, your children may not realize a life skill has been learned. Not everyone has a farm, but the connection to where the eggs and milk in the refrigerator came from is formed.
When we travel to another state or country, we get out the map and make our route. Navigating and geography skills are learned incognito.
When we visit the science museum and watch the electricity travel through the currents, we find out more than the circuit lights up. We learn why the circuit lights up.
Life Skills are more than learning to tie your shoes or do the laundry (though those are truly necessary). Learning why something works is equally important.
FieldSchooling is Socializing
School field trips are made up of large groups of same-age children filing on and off a bus. These children are greeted by a tour guide who educates the children on the place they have arrived at and then feeds them a box lunch and shuttles them back onto a bus. Now, don’t get me wrong. I loved field trips as a kid. There was nothing more exciting about school than being able to leave the building and travel to some not-so-exotic destination while sitting next to my best friend on the school bus.
What makes FieldSchooling different is that homeschoolers not only have the chance to socialize with children of their exact same age but also with children of various ages and adults. When we attend a local play on homeschool day, children of all ages are present. When we head to the Pumpkin Patch each fall, it is full of people of various ages. It’s almost like going out into the real world anywhere except in a school.
But, the truth of the matter is that my kids love to go FieldSchooling because it is often with their best buddies from our homeschool group. This interaction is vital to giving them socialization and a nicer attitude. As an added bonus, Mom gets to engage in a little adult conversation, too.
FieldSchooling in Your Backyard
You don’t have to have a big budget to FieldSchool and you don’t have to go any further than your backyard. Most of our FieldSchooling is done within 90 miles of our home. Begin by looking for activities that you can add to your homeschool that are outside your home. If they also coincide with something you are studying, then great. If they don’t, add a book that will correlate or just go for fun.
Some ways to add FieldSchooling without traveling far from home are:
- Children’s Theater or Community Theater: Look for theater opportunities locally. Usually, they will have discounts for day-time performances, and often specific performances are designated for homeschoolers.
- Local Parks: If you have local parks nearby, look for hiking trails. We love the ones that have a historical reference to them. We live near the Trail of Tears and have been reading about the forced relocation of the tribes. Hiking part of the trail is a natural extension of this learning.
- State and National Parks: These parks have so many wonderful opportunities. We have visited cabins, old mills, Native American burial grounds, battlefields… the list goes on. I always relate these places to stories we’ve read or history we have learned. This puts the stories into context and helps my children to understand what they have learned in history.
- Local Artists: Call up a local artist or business and ask for a tour or demonstration. My children have learned how to make pottery, natural soap, brooms, and cornmeal just by visiting local artisans. We’ve toured working artists villages and made screenprints. Not all local businesses will give you a tour (I still wish the donut shop had let us come), but most are very friendly and eager to share their knowledge.
- Local Municipal Organizations: – My brother-in-law once joked that he could hook me up with a tour of the water treatment plant in town. I think he was a little surprised at how quickly I jumped at the chance. How can my kids understand how the sewer system works (or why they shouldn’t cram an entire roll of toilet paper in the commode) any better than seeing (and smelling) it in all its aspects.
- Local Historical Homes: Nearly every county in the South has a home on the historical registry. Many of these have tours available throughout the year. These are easy and usually free FieldSchooling trips.
- Zoos, Aquariums, and Museums: Don’t forget these local attractions. You can often arrange behind-the-scene tours to visit with animals or other attractions. Our local children’s museum has activities monthly and several for homeschoolers.
FieldSchooling Around the World
The term WorldSchooling has been adopted by homeschoolers all over the continent to describe families who adventure into the wild open spaces with their children in tow. They are often found in RV’s or trains hopping from location to location teaching their children through experiences. This is the extreme version of FieldSchooling. It is an incredible opportunity that many of us don’t have the luxury to experience. Often we are held to certain locals due to jobs or family and can’t spend months on the road. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t FieldSchool globally.
Since we’ve started FieldSchooling, all our vacations have expanded on something we have been learning about in our homeschool. It all began with our trip to Italy the first year, and since then every vacation has been adapted to fit our studies.
- We’ve explored Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown while studying American colonial times.
- We’ve traveled to Texas after studying the Alamo.
- We swam in the estuaries and learned about marine biology.
- We are planning a cruise to Greece to visit the land of the mythological gods that my oldest is fascinated with and to see sites we studied in our ancient Greek unit study.
- We spent the day wandering the halls of the Art Institute of Chicago, MoMA, and The Uffizi to view our favorite artists’ works up-close-and-personal.
FieldSchooling as a Lifestyle
Pick your adventure and head out of the house to explore education and life. Teaching my children has been one of the greatest joys of my life. Watching their eyes light up as they see some of the amazing things outside of their homes that we have read about or seen on the internet is one of the reasons I homeschool. FieldSchooling is a lifestyle we’ve embraced. We still do math and grammar and learn a little Latin, but we also take days off to explore our world and make connections. Take a moment to discover the world outside and start your FieldSchooling adventure!
This is day 26 and the final day of my Homeschooling 101 Blog Party. Myself along with several veteran homeschoolers have shared their top tips throughout the last month to help new homeschool moms get a good start on their homeschooling journey. Join the ongoing conversation for more tips and encouragement in our HS101 Exclusive Facebook group!