As a homeschool mom, I’m always looking for ways to give my kids fun, educational field trips on a one-income budget. Often there are events or places I’d love to take my kids, but the cost is just too much for my family of six to afford.
So field trip planning for a co-op or homeschool group comes in handy. Many times historical landmarks, children’s museums, and zoos offer FREE or deeply discounted tickets for groups. Some locations even give you 1 FREE teacher admission per every 15 students you have. You get in FREE, the kids get in cheap…sounds good to me!
Does this sound good to you, but you don’t quite know where to start? I can help!
I’ve scheduled 100+ field trips for my homeschool group. I get asked a lot about the process from other homeschooling moms. They want to start field trip planning, but are intimidated by the process.
If you’ve never worked with staff at a local attraction like a zoo, museum, or historical landmark, it can be intimidating at first. I promise it is so easy to do if you follow my tips!
As a reward for your field trip planning, three things will happen:
- You will develop a great relationship with your favorite field trip location(s), making future field trip planning there a breeze.
- You’ll make other moms grateful that you’ve done the field trip planning for their family (developing friendships in the process).
- You’ll give your own family an experience you might not otherwise have been able to afford.
1. Decide where you want to go.
You can do this a number of ways. You can ask your children what their interests are or find a location that lines up topically with what you are teaching your kids at co-op or homeschool group. Maybe you heard about a new destination in your area that you’d like to check out?
Subscribing to several local museums, gardens, children’s museums, theatre and other local destination e-newsletters will help you stay up-to-date on what events they are offering.
It’s wise to book field trips 3 months or more in advance. Several places get booked or sold out very quickly by public school, day care or other large groups booking for the school year. This will take planning on your part, but it is worth it if you don’t want to miss out on a seasonal or limited time event.
2. Check the location’s website for more information.
Most educational field trip locations will have an education department tab on their website that you click on for info on workshops or field trips they offer. Here you are looking for information like what are their hours? How much do admission and/or classes cost? Do they offer group discounts?
What’s the minimum amount of people they will offer a group discount for? What’s the maximum number of people allowed in a group? Are there age requirements for participants? Are there downloadable files for teachers for before and/or after field trip discussions?
-Most places require 15-20 participants to book a group field trip.
3. Fill out the online field trip application or email the education department to make inquiries and book your field trip.
Most locations have online field trip request applications that are pretty straightforward and easy to fill out in under 10 minutes. You just submit it and wait to hear back via email. You may have to put a few preferred dates/times that you would like on the form. You will get a confirmation email letting you know which of the dates/times were available and that you are booked.
The education or field trip coordinator’s email address is usually found in the contacts section of the educational tab on the location’s website. When you email a field trip coordinator, it is important to be professional and detailed. I usually start off an email introducing myself and letting them know my affiliation with my co-op or homeschool group.
I tell them I want to book a field trip, then give a few dates and times that work for my schedule. It’s important to give the age and number of participants you want to bring. This always gets asked.
In this email, if it is not made clear on the website how payment is handled for groups, I ask what their policy is. Most places will allow you to write a check to be mailed in a few weeks before the field trip date when you confirm numbers or onsite the day of the field trip.
There are some places that have you pay upfront or over the phone with a credit card for groups. I tend not to book group field trips to the ones that require group payment upfront as I do not want to be responsible for large payments before others in my co-op or homeschool group have signed up and paid.
If a location lets you pay a few weeks ahead of time, make sure you pay by the deadline. This is so important! Doing this will develop a great relationship with a venue, not only for your homeschool co-op, but for ALL homeschool groups that want to book there in the future.
4. Once you’ve booked your field trip, communicate with your co-op or group about the opportunity and have them sign up.
This might be very obvious, but to have a successful group field trip you need people to sign up, pay, and show up! Communicate every detail you have with those interested in signing up.
Here’s what to communicate:
- location name
- location address
- time people need to arrive
- start/end time for the field trip
- description of the field trip/workshop/class, including any special instructions
- age range targeted for the trip or age minimum/limit to sign up
- group size limit (have them sign up everyone they are bringing and make sure that they know if non-participants are allowed to tag along)
- cost (including if babies/kids under a certain age are free or student tickets are cheaper than adult tickets)
- whom they make their payment to and method of payment accepted (cash, credit, check, PayPal, etc.)
- if there is a payment deadline
Make sure that any and all questions are directed to you, the field trip coordinator, and NOT the field trip location. The worst thing you could do is have people calling the field trip venue and asking questions about the field trip that you already know.
Contacts from multiple people about the same field trip group frustrates the employees of the field trip location. You are the communicator and point person for the venue and those signed up for the field trip.
Now you just have to wait for people to pay and sign up. If your payment is due the day of the event or if you mailed it in ahead of time, make sure you show up 15 minutes early to check in your group.
5. Enjoy your field trip!
After all that field trip planning, enjoy it! I always tell my group to make sure they are good listeners, say thank you to the staff and leave the place as clean as they found it.
By being courteous, you help ensure that not only your group, but other homeschool co-ops or groups will also be welcomed back for future field trips.
Editor’s note: See 20 KC-area field trip destinations recommended by Traci Matt, veteran homeschool mom and journalist!
What field trips are you looking forward to planning for your co-op or homeschool group?