Planning for Enrichment

enrichment field trips fun stuff hands on how-to learning experiences planning Jul 31, 2022
planning for enrichment

"I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10b

 Planning for enrichment is hands down our favorite part of homeschooling, and we’re laying out helpful tips to make it easy for you to extend and raise your homeschool lessons to a new level. Like the scripture above, God calls us to live abundantly, and we believe that is a fact in our homeschools as well.

Often in our planning, enrichment was where we started working out the details of our calendar, especially during the elementary years. As the kids got older, enrichment activities were a balm amid the tedium and a binding agent of our relationship. At all ages, it enabled us to laugh, play, think deeply, present our thoughts, and feel the learning in a way that's not possible within four walls. 

It's our hope for your homeschool journey to include all of that and more. To weave a tapestry of beautiful experiences alongside the bookwork and make education and learning come alive for both you and your little ones. 

It takes time and intention to coordinate this enrichment, and depending on your personality, vulnerability to put yourself and your kids out there. We're here to reassure you, it is worth the effort. Consider it an investment in your children’s character building that's difficult to achieve without venturing out, and perhaps beyond your comfort zone. Let our experiences inspire you!

As a former public school teacher, when I started our homeschool journey the one thing I wanted my kids to be able to experience was Field Day. I had my own sweet memories of that event. In the schools in which I had taught, Field Day was a time for my students with special needs to have fun with their classmates like they had at no other time in the school year. In my own childhood, our school had a similar event at which my best friend and I earned the Double Jump Rope Championship and got our names painted on the blacktop of the huge court…the “Guinness Book World Records of Bauder Elementary." I didn't want my kids to miss out, and I quickly realized the event was not offered in our homeschool circles. 

Enter my volunteer efforts as I joined our county's largest homeschool support group, attended one of their board meetings, and signed up solely for the purpose of planning Field Day each year. 

Our girl, in the middle, at her last Field Day in 9th grade.

That was the beginning of my enrichment-minded homeschool planning, and I quickly realized that our community at large was the biggest asset. The more I searched, the more educationally-rich opportunities made their way to me. Better still, they either paralleled our topic of study or were worthy of adding extension activities to our calendar to take learning to deeper levels.

Even better, these experiences were none that I had to create on my own from the ground up, like Field Day, and we were free to invite whomever we wanted to experience it with alongside us. Not only were we deepening our learning, we were also creating a sense of family among our homeschool community similar to a daily classroom experience.

We have countless pictures and videos of a myriad of interactive experiences which are worthy of reflecting on often. Looking back, we remember the doubts and frustration mingling in our minds…"should we stay home and get that lesson done," or "is it worth it to pay for this and spend the energy and time it takes to get there," and "what am I going to do about dinner when we get home?”

If we could go back and tell the Kim & Jenny of back then, we would exclaim a resounding, “YES! Do the thing, save your spot, venture out, and then have cereal for dinner!” Start small with maybe one experience every couple of months, depending on your family. Pray about it, discuss with your husband, and venture off as long as it’s a blessing, not a burden.

One of our first adventures with friends. Our boy is the littlest one.

Before we go into details of specific ideas…a disclaimer:

Enrichment is fun learning for sure, AND if you’ve committed to a curriculum...commit. Make space for it still! As much as we’re for an adventurous spirit, we know how tempting it is to put the mundane daily work by the wayside. There must be balance, and when a husband starts asking why you call it homeschool because you’re never home, it’s time to reevaluate. Flip through those pages of the book that have been ignored, and make time to get back to it! Enrichment is the extension of the foundational elements -- the wind in the sail but still a rudder is needed!

That said, here is a list of ideas from our experiences to springboard your plans. In recent years, many more enrichment opportunities have emerged. We think you'll be amazed at how people take their passions to the community around them in hopes to fuel interest to keep that passion alive in the next generation. Search terms related to your family and children’s interests and topics of study, gather friends to create community together, and watch learning come alive!

Civil War Reenactment

  • Letterboxing and Geocaching 
  • Sailing Center homeschool experiences
  • Library classes/programming/exhibits throughout the complex
  • Rec center classes/programing/events
  • Educational centers at local parks/beaches

Take advantage of park offerings. This park has a visitor center which offers interpretive displays and exhibits that explain the site’s natural history. Park rangers offer guided walks on Saturdays at 10:00 a.m. Special tours are available for groups by reservation. 

  • Nature centers/Botanical gardens/Historic parks with programming, self-led tours, classes and exhibits
  • Historic Hotels/Houses/Plantations self-led tours, classes and exhibits
  •  Historical Re-enactments

  • Sports teams/facilities tour opportunities and programming/special events
  • Amusement/Theme park website's Educational Resources section is not just for teachers and schools.
  • Museums/Aquariums/Airports and even private businesses like grocery stores, small companies or family-owned businesses have or will come up with educational experiences for homeschoolers just as they do for traditional schools.

While visiting the Edison-Ford Winter Estate, we met Edsel Ford, Henry's great-grandson!

  • Florida Orchestra homeschool and community programming, Theater School Shows and Art studios.
  • NASA, local science centers, planetariums and programming and homeschool classes/events.
  • Farm tour/u-pick experiences
  • State Fair exhibits/judging/performance opportunities
  • Archaeological Club programming/volunteer opportunities to help with dig/inventory needs.
  • Citizen Science Projects (visit citizenscience.gov)
  • Virtual, interactive tours. Two that stand out for us: Corrie ten Boom‘s House and Colonial Williamsburg.
  • Music school group lessons/band experiences/theater productions
  • 4-H Youth Development focuses on leadership development in their local clubs, state and national level competitions/events/camps. (It’s not just for agriculture!)

Our 4H Clubs officers 

  • Art Contests at local and via the internet.  One fav: we mailed in art for the Toyota Dream Car USA Art Contest. The grand prize was a trip to Tokyo and although we didn’t win, it was fun to see online the winners/entries from all over the world.
  • Academic Competition Teams/Events such as Odyssey of the Mind, National History Day, National Spelling Bee, American Mathematics Competition, NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program, etc and on and on. Search the term “educational competitions for kids”.  Whatever your children’s passion, a friendly and fun competition is likely to exist.
  • Church classes/events/camps/conferences/workshops
  • Government building exhibits/historical sections
  • The ever-present brown historical marker signs along the roadways of America. As far as we’re concerned, they’re always worth it even though they lead to groaning from the kiddos. However, it’s likely that a thank you will be evoked at a later time when they’re learning a topic for which they have a connection because of the brown sign experience. 

Always stop and read the brown signs. Tell your kids we said so!

What a treasure trove of rich offerings!  It’s exciting to imagine the possibilities and we also acknowledge that the very idea may overwhelm! Either way, start small and don’t feel pressured to correlate them with the topics of your studies. Pray for direction and wisdom, and there will be an organic connection that feels like validation in so many ways!  Just sprinkle in some enrichment, weigh the outcome, and go from there.

Once the plans are added to your calendar, consider the next step which is documentation of the experience. Take pictures, videos and document details in journals. We found much value in our Field Trip Journal and Nature Journals. These evolved each year depending on the ages of our children. From giant art paper books in which they scribbled drawings that we translated into composition, spiral and/or drawing notebooks to beautifully-made store bought journals.

The point is, documenting the details of the experience directly afterwards either in drawings, media, words or verbal narration will cement the connection to learning that took place, as well as create a heartfelt keepsake as they practice language arts skills. In fact, this past month my 18-year-old daughter entered college. When asked to reflect on her whole childhood schooling experience, she brought up our field trip and nature journals. Even now, after an exciting learning adventure, she has thoughts in the back of her mind of journaling the details. 

We hope you are inspired and enlightened by these ideas. Planning enriching activities can bring your child’s education and family experience to a whole new level, as well as provide rich opportunities to deepen your children's thinking, which they’ll carry with them throughout their lives, facilitating the abundant life which God has planned!

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10b

Listen in on our Podcast related to this topic for even more details about the blessings our families received from planning for enrichment.

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