Field trips are a very important part of any child’s education, and they’re a lot of fun! While I love going on field trips with just my family, gathering with other people for trips has a lot of advantages. Groups often qualify for group rates, can schedule special tours, and of course when your mother-in-law asks about socialization you can point out all the trips your kids go on 😉
While field trips are fun, they’re also A LOT of work for the organizer and for the organization. I’ve noticed a trend within homeschooling world, the trend of being “flakey”. Instead of considering field trip etiquette there are a lot of people who aren’t taking it as seriously as they should. It may be because of their lifestyle or because they don’t know better, but there are some ground rules that should be understood before a homeschool family goes on a field trip. Here are some good tips to help you prepare and make the most out of your trip, and leave the organizer happy and willing to plan more trips!
Homeschool Field Trip Etiquette
BEFORE YOU GO
DO: Figure out the total cost of the trip (including gas & toll money, food, and admission) and be sure you can afford it before you RSVP
DO: Ask questions before you RSVP (ask questions about the ages the trip is geared for, if it’s appropriate for any special needs in your family, if it’s baby/stroller friendly, etc.)
DO: RSVP by following the instructions of the organizer
DO: Pay on time, using the method the organizer prefers
DO: Know that in most cases your fees are non-refundable, and know that if you cannot attend you will probably be responsible for finding someone to take your place. In most instances your admission has to be paid whether you show up or not, so if you can’t make it try to find someone who can take your spot.
DON’T: RSVP before you are reasonably certain you can attend
DON’T: Complain about the location, cost, ages, day of the week, or time of the trip (Sometimes the organizer doesn’t get to pick the day and time, and sometimes they do! Regardless, it’s not okay to complain about something when you’re not doing the work. Perhaps you will consider setting up a second trip, just be polite and don’t announce it while the original organizer is still putting theirs together!)
THE NIGHT BEFORE
DO: Plan out your route and set your alarm! Plan to arrive 15-20 minutes early, more if traffic or parking will be a concern.
DO: Pack everything you need and get it all in your vehicle. Do you need extra clothes? Rain boots? Lunch and snacks? Sunscreen? Get them gathered up and in the car! Oh, and while you’re at it go ahead and set out clothes and shoes for the kids, and figure out what you’ll have for breakfast!
DO: Check the weather and pack accordingly
DO: Go to bed early so you can leave the house on time!
DON’T: Decide you want to stay home and leave your organizer hanging!
THE DAY OF THE TRIP
DO: Wear appropriate and comfortable clothing
DO: Leave on time, allowing extra time for traffic and potty breaks
DO: Remind your children of applicable safety and behavior rules
DO: Meet your party at the designated spot, ready to go
DO: Let the organizer know if you are going to be late, and do be understanding if the venue cannot accommodate latecomers.
DO NOT: Call the venue to tell them you won’t be there. They’re probably running around getting ready so call or text the organizer (don’t be upset if they don’t respond, they’re either driving or just as busy as the venue!)
DURING THE TRIP
DO: Keep talking between adults to a minimum. Not only is talking during a presentation disrespectful, it teaches the kids bad manners and can make it hard for others to hear.
DO: Remove your child if they become disruptive. Hey, they’re kids and it’s bound to happen at least once. If you have a baby or toddler who is noisy try to arrange for a friend to watch your kids on the trip while you wait it out (I’ve had to do this A LOT!)
DO: Keep a close watch over your child, especially in places where things can be broken.
DO: Be sure to say hello to people you haven’t yet met before or after the trip. I once went on a field trip with a new group and not one person said hello to me or my children. Not. One. Person. attempted to make us feel a little welcome. Needless to say, we never joined that group for a trip again.
AFTER THE TRIP
DO: Consider visiting the gift shop or making a donation if appropriate, especially if the field trip was free or very low cost
DO: Socialize! Just do it outside of the venue 🙂
DO: Leave on time and be considerate of opening parking spots up for future customers
DO: Send a thank you to the venue or leave a nice comment on their Facebook page
DO: Thank the organizer, a happy organizer is one who will plan another trip!
DON’T: Publicly blast the venue or organizer if the trip was less than ideal. It’s best to deal with these discussions in private conversation, or perhaps with a written letter to the venue. (Which is what happened the time we had a tour of the history center that ended up in the courtroom where Ted Bundy was convicted [“He sat in that chair, right there, where you are!”] which included all sorts of conversation not appropriate for first graders!)
With the right amount of preparation, and by following these etiquette rules, your field trip is sure to be a fun and healthy experience for all! What would you add to this list? Join the discussion by commenting below or by visiting our Facebook Page and Facebook Group.
Meg Grooms is a decades-long secular homeschooling mother of 6 children, ranging in age from preschool to married with kids of their own. Always a vagabond at heart, Meg and her family have embraced a slow travel lifestyle, currently calling Southern California home. Your guess is as good as hers as to where they’ll end up next.
Meg blogs about secular homeschooling and gameschooling at Homeschool Gameschool.