Big Kids Field Trips

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By Kim Jaworski, Homeschool Resouce Specialist

When my sons entered their teens we began a new kind of field trip experience. Teen years are a transition between childhood and adulthood. Big kid field trips help guide them on that path. Adult experiences with training wheels.

We enrolled together in Adult Community Ed classes (cooking, simple household repairs, and ceramics) and in non-credit classes at our local community college (digital photography and CPR training). We attended performances of the St Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Mn Opera, partly to experience these events and partly to discuss the appropriate wardrobe and behavior at fancier venues. We watched the performances and watched the other people in attendance.  The more comfortable your child feels and how well they understand the expectations in a new situation will dictate how willing they are to venture out of their comfort zone successfully later in life.

The boys weren’t overly eager to attend their first opera. From what they had heard (from cartoons, I think) they expected it to be boring and unintelligible. Then I told them they had to wear dress pants, dress shoes and a button down shirt. This made it all even less inviting. I revised their clothing choices a couple times and insisted on a bit of ironing. Then we were off. It was a beautiful night and everyone else was dressed elegantly and the boys felt like they were at some red carpet event. During intermission, they caught sight of some college aged kids in ripped jeans and sweatshirts slinking along the wall to the restrooms. I assume the opera was an assignment for a class. Both of my boys whispered “they must not have mothers”.  They also admitted they were embarrassed for those college students who clearly stuck out like sore thumbs, and an important lesson was learned. Sometimes you simply need to dress the part, even if it’s a bit uncomfortable for you.

Another big kid outing would be to dine at an elegant restaurant. This could be to celebrate a 15th or 16th birthday or other special event (confirmation, passing the driving test, etc). Be sure to do a little homework concerning the table setting and when to use each fork. We don’t eat out like that very often, and when we have it typically wasn’t with kids in tow. So this was a big deal. I also explained to them that soon they would be out in their own circle of friends (and dating) and if they landed at a fancy affair for work or escorting a date, I didn’t want them to embarrass themselves (or their date).

Be sure to also revisit museums, sculpture gardens and galleries that you took them to when they were younger. You’ll have a much more sophisticated conversation about the trip now. You’ll find other ideas for classes you can attend together or performances to attend in your Community Education or Parks and Recreation catalog, at your library, at museums (that might offer behind the scenes tours), local college websites (look for non-credit or community classes), and even in your local tourist publications.