Letting go, and letting your teens stand up


The best field trip ever!

Outings and Field Trips. Whichever way you look at it, or whatever you call it, it basically boils down to the same thing – getting out of the normal learning environment and transporting yourselves to another environment to learn the same thing in perhaps a slightly different way. Or perhaps to learn a new skill which knowledge, environment and equipment make impossible to learn in the usual environment.

What is it about a field trip that makes it an essential part of a home-schoolers learning experience?

Firstly, I think field trips can be a break from the normal humdrum and enliven the learning experience. Sitting in the same environment day after day can become boring, and a simple break to the normal routine can be a breath of fresh air.

Outings and trips can cement what has been learned in the ‘classroom’. As a kinaesthetic learner myself, I can appreciate the need to see and to experience – it adds depth and understanding to the auditory lesson.

Hands-on experience adds a further dimension to learning.

It is said that we learn:

10% of what we read

 20% of what we hear;

 30% of what we both see and hear;

 50% of what we discussed with others;

 80% of what we experience personally;

 95% of what we teach to someone else.

 —William Glasser

It helps to ‘connect the dots’ – the facts given in a lesson are no longer dry and disconnected.

Finally, we do it for the sheer pleasure of it. Often it means joining up with other home-schoolers, some social interaction, and perhaps new friends.

Outings and field trips are fun and exciting!

(Most of the time)

How many of us have spent hours organising an outing, only to have the kids show little interest, or drag their feet around a museum, mumbling about being hungry and asking when it’s time to go home for lunch?

If you’ve had one of these less-than-successful outings, here’s a novel idea …

If you have teenagers, let them organise the next outing!

My 13-year-old son and I just had the best field trip ever – and the first I knew of it was after he had organised the whole thing on his own initiative!

Our current zoology studies have led us to the study of birds, and recent discussions have included bird ringing. Always thirsty for more information, David began to research this online, and specifically as to whether this happens in our area.

Independently, he contacted the national organisation responsible for the ringing of birds, and had them put him in contact with the local bird group, whom he then also contacted by phone. He discovered that they were carrying out a ringing exercise in a local reserve this Saturday, and arranged to attend to see what it is all about.

And then he told me!

I haven’t seen him as excited about anything in a long time. For the three days leading up to the event, he literally bubbled over with enthusiasm.

I have to admit that I was less excited – perhaps it was at the prospect of getting up at 3.30am to meet at the reserve at 4.20am!

But it was awesome!

It brought our lessons to life in the most tangible way possible. Having studied the anatomy of a bird, it was all brought to life in vivid, living colour by being able to hold the bird; measure its beak, wings, tail and legs; opening the wing and studying the feathers; feeling its heartbeat; and feeling that sharp little beak nipping at our fingers.

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Reflecting on the experience, I realised that David gained far more than just learning about birds – he discovered that he has the ability to stand on his own feet in an adult world. He does not need me to organise everything for him. He took his first major step towards becoming a man, taking responsibility for his own future and the things that are important to him. He learnt that he can achieve awesome things on his own. And far from being a cutting of ties with me, it drew us closer, not only because we shared the experience, but because I was able to give him the freedom to take that step on his own.