Let me start by saying that I am a huge fan of public education.
I love the diversity, teachers, social aspects, learning, and the routine my kids experience when at school. I have some friends who give their public school children “mental health days” which are days to chill and have a break from the normal school day routine. We have friends who strictly homeschool their kids, spending their days learning at the dining room table while participating in wonderful field trips and hands-on learning. Then we have friends who unschool and spend their days following the interests of the kids, with no planned schedule and lots of flexibility to be able to learn from nature and their surroundings.
My husband and I send our girls to public school, but periodically have what we call, “homeschool days.”
This idea started because my daughter was asking when she was going to go on a field trip when she was in kindergarten. Although her class had a few field trips, my daughter wanted more. Enter our idea of homeschool days.
Here are my ideas of things we have done, or plan to do for our homeschool days.
- Flynn Theater– If you go to their student matinee section, they offer a plethora of shows that take place throughout the school year during the week. They send out educator notes and topics to discuss and explore prior to coming to the show. With shows beginning at 9 am and 12 pm, there seems to be a time and a show that works for everyone. We tend to go to an early show, and then spend the remainder of the day at the Echo Center, walking around Church Street, having lunch and spending time at the library.
- Audubon Vermont– They offer monthly homeschool programs for kids ages 6-8 and 9-12. It is a 4-hour program and costs $25. They aim to spend the entire time outside, learning about a monthly topic ranging from insect investigations, winter wilderness skills, and birds and blossoms. Audubon investigates a wide range of topics, and there is sure to be a topic of interest to your family.
- Montshire Museum Homeschool Program– Montshire offers a one-day homeschool event, as well as two, 3-part homeschooler series. They split the days into ages, 6-8 and 9-12. Registration is required, and you need to pay for the museum admission, but there is no extra charge. New England Animals and Astronomy is the next three-part series, and The Science of Toys is the one-day event coming up on November 30th.
- Davis Studio– Along with their weekly full-day program specific to homeschoolers, they also offer one-day camps throughout the year, usually when the public schools are closed. This is a great opportunity for your kids to take fun art classes.
- Shelburne Museum– Offers themed workshops as well as self-guided tours for schools and homeschool families. Themes range from life in early Vermont, and home sweet home to blast off- where you can make your own bottle rocket. Participate in a workshop, and spend the remainder of the day on a self-guided tour.
- Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium– Located in St. Johnsbury, the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium offers special programming for homeschooling families on Fridays. You can pay per class, or they just added a $50 per kid pass to include all the Fridays for the school year.
- The Wild Center– This is a bit of a drive but offers such a great opportunity to experience nature from a different perspective. They offer one day dedicated to homeschool families, but of course, you can go on any day they are open and have a wonderful day of fun and learning while you wander along their paths.
- Hiking and Exploring- This is what it sounds like. Take a day to go for a hike you have never been on. Bring a journal to draw in, and write about what you all see. Binoculars are great for bird sighting and looking at distant mountains and water.
I will plan a day or two with fun educational activities that the three of us will enjoy. I also plan a day that just my fourth grader and I will participate in, as well as a day that just my kindergartener will participate in with me.
Of course, please be conscientious of how many days of school your child misses in a school year. There are laws regarding truancy, and you don’t want to deal with that. My kids tend to not miss a lot of school, so we are comfortable with the number of homeschool days we participate in.