Homeschoolers love to take field trips. Actually, homeschoolers are apt to call anything a field trip: a trip to the grocery store? Home management field trip! Dentist visit? Health/career options field trip! Visit to the DMV or post office? Government-in-action field trip!
We also like the more traditional field trips as well: zoos, museums, etc. But like most people who visit these places, we cringe a little when we see a bunch of yellow buses parked by the curb. To be clear, students on school field trips, in my experience, are generally well behaved and perfectly lovely children. There’s just a lot of them, and they all have worksheets they have to fill out, and then we have the dreaded lines. And everybody knows homeschoolers don’t know how to stand in line. (I kid! See the reference to grocery stores, DMVs, and post offices.)
Therefore, I give you homeschoolers tips for avoiding school field trip groups:
- Call ahead. (This doesn’t always work, but some places don’t have field trips on Fridays or Mondays.)
- Some places have homeschool days where they won’t book other field trips. So it’s still busy, but it’s the sort of creative chaos that homeschoolers are accustomed to. There also tends to be a lower adult-to-child ratio, making it a little more controlled. (Although some parents have the ability to tune out their own child that’s most impressive. Hey, lady, your kid is about to jump into the crocodile enclosure. You wanna check on that?)
- Go later in the afternoon. The school kids will need to get on the buses so they can go get on other buses, so 2:00 or later is a good bet. The downside is that you end up driving in rush hour traffic, another homeschool no-no.
- Go during testing week. This is great for avoiding public school kids, but sometimes private school groups have the same idea.
- Go at the very beginning or very end of the school year. The end of the school year can be tricky, because private schools tend to get out earlier, so the museums may already be full of summer-vacationing private schoolers. (And of course, other homeschoolers. But we’re still a rare enough breed that we don’t overwhelm places unless we get organized. See #2.)
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We took advantage of strategy number 5 today. Public schools just went back Monday and private schools haven’t been in much longer. Nobody’s had time to organize their seating charts, much less field trips. Our competition was tiny toddlers in strollers and a few fellow homeschoolers. Score!
What are your tips for avoiding groups at museums and parks?