Homeschooling for Introverts: Field Trips

Let’s talk about field trips.

My favorite kinds of field trips involve just my children and me.  Admittedly, it’s probably a control thing as much as an introvert thing.  I can decide when we leave home, where we go, what we do while we’re there, and when we come back home.  And I don’t know about your children, but mine actually behave better in public than they do at home.

When we first moved to Georgia a couple of years ago, one of the big draws for me was being so relatively close to Atlanta.  There’s so much to do there!  The first few months after we moved, we took some sort of trip to Atlanta every few weeks.  Now that I think about it, that’s something we need to start doing again.  There’s so much we still haven’t seen or done.

We’ve also done several trips with other homeschool moms and kids, and those have lots of benefits, especially for my children.  I have wanted them to be beneficial for me, and they have been to a degree, but often I just find them stressful.  This has nothing to do with the other moms, by the way.  They’ve all been great.  (Please keep inviting me, Sarah!)  I just have a very hard time getting to know another person in that scenario.  It’s hard for me to participate in a conversation while simultaneously checking to see what my own children are doing and/or while all of the kids are running around and just generally “being kids.”  Nevertheless, I want to continue taking these kinds of trips because, well, homeschool moms need to be “socialized,” too. 

So how can an introverted homeschool mom survive and even thrive during a field trip?

1.  Plan ahead.

By “planning ahead,” I don’t just mean figuring out the logistics, although that is critical.  I mean getting yourself into the right mental frame of mind for interacting.  If you tend to be really sensitive to lots of noise and general chaos, prepare yourself ahead of time.  Get in the zone. 

2.  Plan some downtime for before and after.

This goes along with suggestion #1.  One of the classic traits of an introvert is that being around other people is draining – even when we’re having a good time.  It just simply takes energy from us instead of energizing us.  This isn’t a bad thing, but it is something for which to prepare.  If possible, have a relatively quiet day at home the day before the trip.  If you’ll be getting home in time for supper, make it as easy as possible (crock pots are great for this) so that you’re not facing additional stress at the end of the day.

3.  Plan something that you will enjoy.

If the trip just involves you and your children, try to include something that’s fun for you and not purely educational for the kids.  For example, in addition to going to the Atlanta History Center, we’ve also been to Ikea, and we have a couple of favorite Atlanta restaurants that we like to visit when we’re there.  Trips to Chattanooga invariably include a stop by Krispy Kreme.

4.  Think outside the box.

As you may have noticed from suggestion #3, I like to eat.  This can work to my advantage in planning a field trip.  One subject we have really enjoyed studying is geography, and we love to try foods from different countries.  (Well, I do, and usually Nathan does.  Megan has her limitations but still goes along for the ride.)  Here again, a large city like Atlanta is ideal because there’s a restaurant for pretty much any nationality imaginable.  I would have no qualms about counting a trip to an Indian restaurant as a field trip if we were also learning about India in our school work.

5.  HALT – Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired

I mentioned this in an earlier post, but the idea applies here, especially the first and last ones.  Make sure that neither you nor your children get too hungry or too tired on the trip.  In those situations, disaster is sure to follow.  Plan for meals and snacks, and make sure the length of the trip is suitable for you and your children.

Field trips can be great fun, even for introverts.  They just require a bit of upfront planning to make the experience a positive one for everybody.  So don’t be afraid to get out there and explore!