San Diego Scottish Highland Games – Vista

It’s a bit of a drive to Vista from our lovely desert but close enough for a day trip to our family, especially to see some Scottish Games! Pipes and drums, dancing, sheep herding dogs, story time, and much, much more. Festivals like these are a great way to introduce world history and culture to kids (and adults) of all ages.

Go visit the San Diego Scottish Highland Games in Vista on June 25 and 26, 2016!

Desert Rocks Indoor Climbing Competition – June 4

classic-rock-posterThis looks like a fun event!

Check out Desert Rocks in North Palm Springs.

Renaissance Faire!

The Renaissance Faire is a great place to learn about the Shakespearean times! And here in Southern California they have a special “school groups” day to attend. Check out their website for details about what’s different on school day and how to order tickets.

The Renaissance Faire School Day!

Field Trips & Group Tickets

Homeschoolers are notorious for two things: being late and backing out. It can be incredibly frustrating for people that attempt to organize a group tour or field trip. I think there are two things we can do to minimize the effects.

The first one is for the organizers themselves. We need to understand that a few of the reasons most people decide not to send their kids to school are because they are fairly independent people and they desire more flexibility with their schedule. An even bigger reason is that they hope to focus on their child’s individual needs instead of the groups. We need to remember that when we schedule an event and people sign up. Things we can do are:

  1. Be sure to let people know as far in advance as possible. The farther out we plan, the more likely they are to have time for it. And send reminders as the event gets closer; i.e. one month out, two weeks out, one week out.
  2. Give them an excess of information about the event. When? Where? How much per person? Do parents need to pay too, or just students? Do we need to stay together as a group when we get there, or can we enter together and go at our own pace? Do we need to pay in advance or have cash on hand when we get there? Can younger or older siblings come?
  3. Know that some will back out and plan accordingly. If you need a minimum group size, be sure you have more than enough. If there will be no refunds after a certain date, be sure to say so right up front.

The second one is for those that sign up for these events. We need to remember that in homeschooling groups, it is typically another parent setting up a field trip, not a paid professional. Typically, a parent finds something interesting they’d like their children to attend, so they voluntarily take time and energy away from their own families to set up and organize a trip for a whole group. They are just as busy as you are and just as dedicated to homeschooling their own kids. They are not professionals. They have the same faults that you have. They may not be as organized and communicative as they hoped they would be. So we all need to be a little understanding when things don’t get done perfectly.

Here are some things to think about it before we sign up in the first place.

  1. Is this going to be something my kids actually want to do? You may be interested in the tour of a nice art museum, but your toddler and six year old may not be. Interest is so important in successful homeschooling. Uninterested kids can be terribly distracting to others who might be very interested in the topic. We need to be respectful of other families attending.
  2. Is this something my family can do on our own? I love live shows, art and history museums, and parks but sometimes my sons are interested in other things. I want them to experience other cultures, different kinds of art, live performances, etc. These things can sometimes be experienced much cheaper if we are able to get a group/school ticket and we have to take advantage of that. But sometimes it’s only a few dollars more to experience things on our own. It may be worth that extra money to be on our own time table. Check the website of the event you’re thinking of attending and see if you can’t swing going on your own as a family instead of a group.
  3. Where is it? Will it be worth the drive? Is this event too early/late in the day for my family’s lifestyle? I’ve done this a thousand times. I get invited to an event, see that it starts at 9am, decide it’s no problem for us, and sign up. Then I see that it is over two hours away with traffic making it sometimes three hours. We’ll need to be up by 5am, dress and eat, and be in the car by 6am to get there in time. Be sure to look at how far away the event is and what time it starts. And don’t forget to schedule in “getting moving” time, especially for the little ones. One of my sons has no problem waking up and getting in the car to go somewhere, but the other one needs at least an hour to wake up before he can even think of getting ready to go. That’s one of the best parts of homeschooling, the fact that we can cater to our own styles. We use these “school age” years to help our children learn their needs and get them met on their own, conforming to what everyone else is doing only when we feel it’s something very worth while.
  4. Remember when we sign up that we are making a “commitment”. It’s understandable when life gets in the way and we can’t make it to something we signed up for. Kids get sick, cars break down; that’s just life. The fact that you just don’t feel like getting the kids together and moving around that day isn’t an excuse to back out. The rest of the group may be counting on getting that minimum number of people to get their group discount.

Above all we all need to be extra polite, kind, and communicative when we plan and when we attend field trips with our homeschool friends. We are all working outside the box and could probably use some kind words of support even when things aren’t going as smoothly as we had hoped. If you have to cancel, let the organizer know as soon as humanly possible and be understanding when you don’t get a refund. They probably have no control over that and if they did refund you, it might have to come from their own pocket. If you’re organizing and attendees are backing out more than you figured they would, try to be kind and compassionate about their reasons. They may not be good reasons to you, but they are to them.

Group tickets, field trips, tours, and other events are a big part of what makes homeschooling so much fun. Let’s try to keep it friendly. The more fun it seems, the more people will want to plan more of them and that is great for ALL of us!

Nearby Homeschool Groups

A local homeschool group is a wonderful resource and thanks to the internet and especially Facebook, getting in touch with other homeschoolers is easier than ever! But what about groups in adjacent areas? Where we live there are a limited amount of field trips available just because there isn’t much out here unless you like rock climbing, hiking, and off road riding. So I belong to some other groups outside my immediate neighborhood that are specifically set up to create field trips and let people know about events that might be of interest to homeschoolers.

A two hour drive is about all I’ll do for a day trip (not for weekly or daily thing), so I set my radius at about 120 miles. For something really special though, I’ll drive three hours! I looked at the map and started searching for homeschool groups in cities and counties inside my circle. I have been able to tag along on lots of field trips that I would never had known about if I hadn’t been a part of that group.

Here is a list of some that I’ve found for our area. Of course, your driving tolerances will be different than mine, so think about that and create your own circle of influence!

San Diego Homeschool Field Trips
This may sound far, but going the back way down the 15 freeway really has very little traffic and it takes about two and a half hours to get from the desert to downtown San Diego.

Inland Empire Homeschoolers
Great stuff is posted here and usually with an hour an a half from home.

SoCal Field Trips
All kinds of events posted from all over the southland, just be sure to look at the start times for events! You don’t want to say you’ll be there on time at 8am for an event that is three hours away. Traffic in Riverside and going into LA can be a bear!
They can also be found on the web at the SoCal Field Trips Website.

There is a Meetup group called Riverside Area Homeschoolers. This one has a small membership fee but they plan wonderful group trips.

Last but not least is SoCal Roving. It is also a Meetup group but has no fees unless you sign up for an event. I have found them well organized and easy to contact.

Once last thing I wanted to mention. When I first started signing up for homeschool field trips online, I was worried about sending money to a stranger. Most of the events are paid through PayPal accounts and you are emailing a stranger money. The beauty of the Meetup and Facebook groups is that there may be a scammer among us once in awhile but people catch on to them pretty quick and spread the word. Look at how many members are in the group or how long the group has been around for reassurance. You can also google the name of the poster or group organizing and see if there is any negative feedback floating around the web. Anyone that jumps on a group, posts a field trip, asks for money, and then flakes on everyone usually gets talked about and won’t be able to do it again. Personally, I find this an amazing advancement!

Field trips are one of the BEST parts about home education! There is nothing like living in the world to learn about it. Zoos, aquariums, amusement parks, shows, etc. It’s all there! Go have some fun!

Hi-Desert Nature Museum

I love our little museum in town! There’s a little something for everyone in there. Recently I opened our Recreation Newsletter to find that they have a display of World War II posters called “Convincing a Nation” right now. We’ll be checking that out for sure. It will be another great bit to hang on the WWII hook in their minds. We’ll have hours of conversation about it. Hopefully Dad will have time to come with us.

They also have small critters, books, rocks, and local information all year around. They have classes, events, and tours for groups, too. Go check them out and often! If you’re coming from outside Yucca Valley, it’s a great place to stop and check out on your way to Joshua Tree National Park.

Hi-Desert Nature Museum

Commitment

There was something I read in an Uncle Eric book years ago about two laws for a peaceful world, “Do all you say you are going to do.” and “Do not encroach on another person’s person or property.” As I move through the home education world, I find that the first one is something we all have a very hard time with.

I’m not pointing out people. I’m guilty of it myself. We all are. But for some reason, when it comes to homeschool field trips and events, there is a disproportionate number of people who violate that rule a lot.

As a group, home educators are a pretty independent lot. We tend to do things in our own time, on our own schedule. We love the flexibility that home education gives our family. A hike at a local park or a visit to a museum on the calendar doesn’t mean that we can’t just thrust that off to the side when we feel the call of the amusement park or a great movie debut. It is pretty glorious.

Many times we don’t have a central place or business that coordinating field trips or a get-together. It’s usually another parent that has decided they would like to take advantage of a group discount or that they’d like to organize a group of families to go with them to the museum so that they can get a tour or add in the element of socializing with peers while their kids experience modern art. They donate their time and energy to plan, organize, invite, and wrangle other families. They aren’t paid or compensated other than seeing other families benefit from their efforts. And we all benefit from it. The more people that jump in and do this, the more experiences we all have, the more rounded our children’s education is.

And now the down side. There is nothing more disappointing and embarrassing to an organizing parent than to show up at a venue with a reservation for twenty and having five show up. Most of these events are free, so people have no problem forfeiting their spot. But it does cost the museum to have the docent there ready to give the tour. And it sure makes us all look bad that we can’t commit to showing up when we said we would, on time. The next group that tries to make a reservation or group ticket is given a hard time because of the last experience. And we are given fewer and fewer opportunities to show our kids the wider world.

Sometimes the field trip that parent organized is the first one that venue has ever done. It may be the docents first experience with home educated kids. Don’t you think we should be a light to others who may be considering homeschooling as well. Wouldn’t it be awesome if that young docent at the art museum was so impressed with homeschoolers in general that it made it normal for her and she decided to go that route as well? I realize that’s a bit idealistic and if we all went around feeling like we were on display for others instead of just living our lives, it could have negative effects. But couldn’t we at least put our best foot forward when we’re out in public? I’m not talking about having beautifully behaved children at all times. I’m talking about showing up, on time, and following the rules of the venue without disturbing others around us too much.

I’d like to also add that we think about how we treat the organizer. They are just another parent trying their best to home educate. They aren’t professionals. They’re doing this out of the kindness of their heart. It may be the first thing they’ve ever organized. They may not be very good at it. And they are doing the very best they can. They probably have their own children there waiting for the event. Try to be helpful and extra courteous. They are learning too.

Next time you see a free or low cost event published online for homeschoolers, check your schedule before committing to it. And if you do make that reservation, write it down and make a point to be there, maybe even a little early if need be. If something comes up and you can’t make it, be sure to tell the organizer as early as you can. We all need to be a little more responsible for ourselves and think about those around us. It’s not just about you showing up. It’s the organizer’s time and effort. It’s the venue’s time and budget. It’s the homeschooling community’s reputation.

Scottish Festival This Weekend!

I found this today on Homeschooling in Southern California! It’s this Sunday! As in the day after tomorrow! Small festivals like this are great for introducing the kids (and ourselves) to new cultures, foods, and music. Before the festival look at a map of Scotland, find out what kind of government they have, what foods they traditionally eat, pictures of Scotland today, hear their language. If you can do it before the festival, you’ll have “hooks” to hang the experience on. It makes what you see and experience more meaningful and you remember more about it. Or just wing it and live in the moment. You might love it so much you’ll come home and have to know more about the Scots. Remember to take a few pictures of the kids eating some haggis or listening to bagpipes for the “education record”. It doesn’t have to be Monday through Friday to be a school day for us!

The Scottish Society of the Inland Empire will present its third annual Apple and Thistle Music Festival 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 13 at Snowline Orchard, 29400 Oak Glen Road, Oak Glen.

The event will feature Scottish music, and food will be available from vendors. Visitors may also bring their own lunches.

There will also be apples and apple cider for sale at Snowline Orchard, and apple doughnuts.

Those attending are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets to sit on.

For information, call Bob Leeton at 909-425-8427 or Dave Leffler, 909-881-3982.

Source: Scottish Society of the Inland Empire