How often do you do field trips?

by Karmel Larson

I used to do a field trip every week!  That worked out GREAT when I had just a few kids and we were doing mostly preschool stuff and no music and sports.   Now that our numbers are growing, our schooling is becoming academically more challenging and our extracurricular interests are expanding, I do field trips whenever it is “a blessing, not a stressing”.   I’ve also found that regular trips to the library seem to be more beneficial than regular field trips and fitting in both can be a challenge.  I certainly value field trips however, and try to accommodate them as often as possible. I really don’t care how often any more, rather how quality the experience is and how happy we are all rather than how stressed we get, trying to fit in one more event.

I think it’s wise to plan them with a purpose or to align them with what you are studying when possible.  For example, Ben has been fascinated with the human body from a young age and so Brigham worked on arrangements to have him tour the BYU Anatomy lab.  Think outside of the box with these opportunities and don’t limit your outings to the zoo and dinosaur museum!  One of my favorite outings we have done as a family was touring the BYU Creamery and learning how they make ice cream (samples included)!

We have also used family field trips for opportunities to provide social introductions and play dates for our kids with other families.  It’s easy to schedule such an outing for two or three families instead of just one.

When day to day routine gets in a rut, I’ve used a much desired field trip as a carrot to move my little learners along at a more motivated pace in their studies and chores.  I think it’s good for them to work for something every now and then rather than always expecting these outings which can be very time consuming and occasionally expensive.  Their sense of accomplishment at having earned the experience gives them great joy at the end of a week filled with productivity and removes any potential feelings of entitlement.

I have an overstuffed white binder filled with ideas for family field trips and outings.  I went to the Utah Valley Visitors Center on University Ave. in Provo and picked up one of all of their brochures on what to do in Utah.  I’ve also collected over the years from newspapers and magazines, ideas for fieldtrips and added them to this binder.  There is certainly no lack of places to go and things to do!!  The kids like to flip through these pages and pick the next activity or location to explore.  Another great resource is the Utah Mama Handbook.  It has wonderful ideas for things to do with kids.

It has to be a pretty great idea and activity to surpass the joy of staying home and reading great classical literature on our cozy couch.  I used to feel like I was really helping my kids to “experience something” by doing as many field trips as I could fit in.  Now I am more inclined to think, “Do we really need to pack everyone into the car and drive there to benefit from that opportunity… or would doing something at home be the better choice for creating the vision we set out to accomplish with our children?”  Lately, it is the stay at home option that seems to be the greater good.

Fields trips don’t have to be grandiose or long either.  Below is an example of a recent “field trip” that benefited our kids on many levels, was close, short and meaningful, with a trip to the library on the way home filling the bulk of the afternoon!

Here are the kids outside of Utah Community Credit Union a few weeks ago.  We went there to open checking accounts for each child.  Ben and Abby even ordered real checks.  Each child opened checking and multiple savings accounts.  Abby and Ben helped with their own paperwork.  Thayne and Briggy tried very hard to sit still and enjoyed the suckers and being a part of it all.

We pay our kids for completing items on their “list” (Zion Family Responsibilities Chart).  Then on Sundays we do family banking where their earnings are divided into envelopes for tithing, savings (short term-checking account, long term-college & mission accounts, etc.).

A great follow up to any family outing or field trip is to have it be the subject of journaling or writing a thank you note to someone who helped to provide the experience.  As my kids get older, I envision having them be more responsible for the planning, arranging and follow through of such events.

Here’s a link to a short list of ideas I brainstormed while writing this post.  The link should be set up so that you can edit this document to add your own ideas for the benefit of others who visit this post (and myself).

Family Field Trip Ideas

So what outings are your families planning on enjoying this summer?  How are you going to make it meaningful, educational and worthwhile?  Share your ideas please!