Travel is the ultimate field trip here in Autismland. We take a ton of field trips. We accomplish this by incorporating a 4 day school week saving Fridays for travel to learn new things. Some weeks, we travel around the great state of Florida while some weeks we take our travels to farther locations. No matter the destination , there is always something to learn not only at the destination but in the experience of getting there as well. Long distance trips are always included in our yearly budget. It’s a sacrifice for sure but the children learn so much from them not to mention the fun family memories we make to laugh about later.
We have this great book , One Tank Trips, made by our local tv station. On a Friday that we don’t have a field trip scheduled with our homeschool group , we open the book to pick a destination. I let the children take turns picking a destination each week so it’s fair. They are required to pick the destination as well as find directions to the place, pack our lunch and drinks as well as inform me if there is an entrance fee. This teaches them how to find directions either in an atlas or through Google, how to be responsible to menu plan for the family in addition to packing it as well as how to make sure there are funds available for it. It is announced during dinner on Thursday night so that everyone can be prepared to go on Friday morning. We discuss at that time what attire should be , what we need to bring (nature journals, sketch books, sunglasses) in addition to speculating as what to expect when we get there. This part is necessary for my child with autism who doesn’t do well with surprises. After our return home, we sketch and journal the day in our Field Trip Journals.
We are looking forward to traveling out of state every chance we can. We have been to Baltimore where the children explored the military fort where Francis Scott Key penned the Star Spangled Banner, Washington D.C where we explored our nation’s capital. Atlanta to see the church where Martin Luther King Jr. preached, and finally, a Disney cruise to the Caribbean. The children have seen these places first hand thus cementing the learning into their brains. Those places are now personal to them so when we hear about them in the news, they can relate to what is happening. As they come across these places in their reading, it opens up a whole new perspective for them.
All we do when we travel is pick one educational place to visit while we are there. Just one. Don’t overload the kids or suck the fun out of the trip by trying to make it all educational. Your children will learn as they travel without any formal lessons. A ton of learning happens naturally . We also take our time in transit to and from the destination in order to stop at a few places that peak our interests . You’ve seen the signs of off the road places that look intriguing. The kids like to pick one or two to check out while we are enroute. You never know what you will learn there. The state welcome center on the highway is a great place to stop to take a picture of the Welcome sign as well as get brochures for various attractions. The Florida Welcome Center hands out orange juice samples if you stop between 8 AM – 5 PM. You can find info on the Sweet Tea Trail at the Georgia Welcome Center. The Alabama Welcome Center has a wonderful nature walk in the back of it by the bathrooms. The New Mexico Welcome Center reminds you there are snakes everywhere. That one was sort of creepy. These are things we didn’t plan but found regardless because we padded our travel times to include them.
Give your children the experience of taking field trips to lots of places. Experiences like these will not only be treasured forever but it makes learning come alive for children . My children have seen the Alamo first hand as well as seen the spot where JFK was assassinated. These memories make books and movies come alive in a way that you can’t teach from a textbook. It will spark an interest in finding out more that will serve children well later in life. You may ignite a love for something the child will carry with them the rest of their life. You also get fond family memories for everyone. It helps you have a team mentality that says we’re in this together instead of every man for himself. That make it all worth it in the end.
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