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6/10/2010 9:24:17 AM
Home School Legal Defense Association
HSLDA's Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner Newsletter--June 2010

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HSLDA's Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner Newsletter
June 2010 -- Fantastic Field Trips
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By Faith Berens
HSLDA Special Needs Coordinator

Field trips are fun and motivating learning experiences for all types
of learners of all ages. Some of my fondest memories as a classroom
teacher are of the fantastic field trips that helped to make learning
come to life, motivate and inspire students, and solidify abstract
concepts. Experiences such as touring the Folk Life Village Museum
(while teaching in Korea), as well as roaming the grounds of the
Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton, Virginia both brought to life
periods of history we studied. Visiting an aquarium to learn about
sharks and a pottery-making tour and class sparked wonder and
creativity in students!

My 8-year-old daughter is definitely a kinesthetic and hands-on
learner! Field trips are a natural way to enhance her curriculum and
studies. Who wants to just read about snakes from a book when there
are snake hunting adventures available locally? So, on a warm, spring
day, we, along with our homeschool support group friends, took off for
the Blandy Farm and State Arboretum in Frederick County, Virginia.

The day was sunny and warm with the beautiful spring flowers in bloom.
After a picnic lunch, the homeschool group attended a hands-on
educational program about the various types of snakes native to our
state and how to identify poisonous versus non-venomous snakes. The
children also got to handle snake skins, pet a milk snake, and create
their own felt snakes. Following these activities, we all went for a
snake hunt on the beautiful acreage of the arboretum. Peering through
cracks in an old, stone wall, we saw some sleeping copperheads!

Here are some tips for planning and implementing successful field
trips:

> When possible, connect field trips to content area studies (such as
science units and time periods).

> Think theme-based (this works particularly well for global learners
and kids on the autism spectrum).

> Plan trips based upon your children's interests.

> Utilize local resources such as state parks, industries, museums,
historical sites, etc.

> Make requests of other people to share their knowledge, expertise,
and passions.

> Check into your local and state homeschool association for field
trip ideas and opportunities.

> Research ahead of time in order to plan accordingly, estimate time
needed, travel directions, handicap accessibility, etc.

> Be sure to call ahead and discuss your child's special needs, any
necessary accommodations, etc. Most places are very helpful and
understanding.

> Download, from the destination's website, teacher guides, handouts,
and children's activities.

Suggestions for Planning Field Trips for Children with Special Needs:

Sometimes, I hear from parents that they are hesitant to take their
child with ADHD or Asperger's syndrome, for example, on field trips
because of their unpredictable and or quirky social behaviors. They
are concerned that others (who lack the knowledge of their child's
challenges) will not understand or misjudge them. I encourage you
not to let these worries or fears deter you from taking your child out
for such engaging activities. It offers them a break from the
sometimes mundane exercises in the learning day, helps them to gain
important skills such as planning, and gives them an opportunity to
practice the social behaviors you have been diligently teaching them
at home, but yet apply them in new settings.

Author and homeschooling mother Sharon Hensley, in her book "Home
Schooling Children with Special Needs," shares some helpful things
that made taking field trips with her daughter (who is on the Autism
spectrum) easier. She suggests going in very small groups, perhaps
one or two other families. This is a good tip, as you have others
around for support and help. Her second suggestion is to go on "off"
days or seasons when venues will be less crowded. And lastly, she
usually took her mother along as her "secret weapon"! There is no one
like Grandma! Having more hands on deck can definitely enhance the
interactions, questioning, and discussion during the learning process.


Can't afford to travel? Why not take a virtual field trip? There are
many available--you just have to invest some time in searching the
internet. It is quite easy to Google search "homechool field trips"
as well as "virtual field trips."

This year, one of the books we read aloud was "The Family Under the
Bridge" by Natalie Savage. My daughter had also enjoyed reading the
story of Louis Braille. While we could not afford to travel to
France, thanks to the marvels of technology we were able to take a
virtual trip! Check out these wonderful tours:

Virtual Tour: The Louvre
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=8435

Virtual Tour: Eiffel Tower
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=8436

We found this one courtesy of Home Educators of Virginia's website!
The Eiffel Tower website has a children's corner, an interactive
virtual tour with lots of labeled photos, an online children's
activity book, and teacher materials. The historic diagrams of how the
original tower worked are interesting. The website and most of the
materials are in both French and English.

Field trips are a spectacular way to spice up your homeschooling
experience and can ignite new pathways of exploration and motivation
for your children. Field trips do not have to be complex or expensive
and the possibilities are endless! Happy trails to you...

Helpful Articles and Links:

"How to Plan a Great Field Trip"
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=8437

Home School Heartbeat: "Take a Trip!"
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=8438


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