If you’ve ever organized a homeschool field trip, you know the look. The one you get from the representative of whatever event when she asks, “Is this everyone?”
“Um, no,” you stammer. “We’re still waiting on a few more families.” Then you pull out your phone and frantically call the missing few to find out their eta. While making these calls, you grin sheepishly to the representative and nod your head, letting them know it’s under control.
Before you get the wrong idea, this isn’t a post intended to bash us homeschoolers. It’s a post begging for understanding. Homeschool life isn’t like government school life. Homeschoolers aren’t typically loaded in one spot, transported together, and then unloaded together. Government school field trips run with some degree of precision, despite than the usual chaos that accompanies children.
- Baby Time–Typically, a homeschool field trip is attended by the whole family. Departure isn’t a matter of directing twenty-five same-aged children onto a bus. (I don’t want to downplay that this can be a challenge for teachers. I only want to point out the differences.) A homeschool mom has to herd multiple children of various ages into the family vehicle at a certain time. It seems no matter how early the mother plans to leave, something happens to make the family late. When Peck was born, I explained to my older son that we were now on baby time. It wouldn’t matter how early we started to leave the house, the baby could still make us late by spitting up all over himself and me, having an explosive diaper, or, when a toddler, stripping off his clothes and streaking around the house. Now imagine, a family that is not only on baby time, but also independent preschooler time, distractible fourth-grader time, vain tween time, and sullen teen time. I’m not sure even Chik-Fil-A could get a brood like that out the door on schedule.
- Estimated Time to Destination is 47 Minutes–Homeschool families are often spread out over a large area. That means at least one family drives a long distance to get to an event. GPS helps, but it doesn’t account for cows in the road, being trapped by road construction, or your very weak-stomached son barfing after some winding road in the country. Once, I left a half hour early for a field trip and still arrived fifteen minutes late. The most organized parent can’t predict random obstacles on the road.
- What day is it again?–When you hang out in your pajamas all day and only leave the house once or twice in a week, days of the week sort of run together. I think the population at large experienced this phenomenon during Covid lockdown. It’s not that you forget the field trip, you forget the entire day! You just finished reading to your children, thinking that it’s Tuesday, when you flip through Facebook. A friendly field trip reminder pops up in your notifications. “That can’t be right,” you think. “The field trip is Wednesday.” It finally dawns on you that today is Wednesday, and you have to leave the house in fifteen minutes. Sure, tools and apps exist to lessen this problem, but you have to remember to use them.
I realize homeschool tardiness can frustrate event organizers. However, the phenomenon is not due to laziness or a lack of respect. And I promise, that once we all get there, our children will be the most polite and curious students you’ve encountered 🙂