My turn

Field trips take students outside the classroom to learn

2013-04-28T00:00:00Z Field trips take students outside the classroom to learnBy Bill Vargo
April 28, 2013 12:00 am  • 

We have a ritual each night of going over homework and any long-range assignments that my sons may have forgotten or “misplaced.” Math and English is followed closely by science and history lessons. We go Some nights, these study sessions stretch into a few hours.

When I was going through their folders last week I noticed permission slips for upcoming field trips. Of course, we signed the forms quickly, thinking that at least on those night, we won’t have homework to review. It reminded me of all the events that will be occurring in the next month.

Field trips are a nice reinforcement for material covered in history or science classes. One upcoming trip is a day at Buckley Homestead County Park in Lowell.

The first thing that Sam asked was whether there would be a World War II reenactment on this field trip. He was referring to the annual weekend reenactment at Buckley, which has been replaced this year by the History Speaks series and a June 8 program at Lake Etta County Park titled "Celebrating Our Greatest Generation," but I could grasp his wish to see something grand like a line of tanks in mock formation doing battle against the forces of evil.

“No,” I assured him. “There won’t be a battle, but there will be a nice tour of the homestead and all that history.” He seemed less interested and moved on to the battle between the Americans and the Germans.

Matt had a Math Triathlon this week and a competition downstate for National History Day. It is almost as if there just isn’t enough time to squeeze in all the trips.

I might suggest that we extend the school year to pack more in. but that would make me a target for school kids across the region preparing for a summer sabbatical.

Before that, there will be Little League baseball games, youth soccer, academic competitions and my old favorite, field day. In my time, it was an almost carnival atmosphere where we went from station to station and competed for ribbons in balloon tosses, a tug-of-war, sack races and anything else that teachers could come up with to tire us out.

We even had a few field trips when I was in school, although I think my teachers feared sending us out in public because we were a lot less well-behaved than most students.

A trip to Lemon Lake County Park in Crown Point would be a safe bet; no innocent bystanders would be scarred by impromptu belching contests or other childish games we came up with. Stick the kids in the open field and make sure no one gets injured.

We also had tours of Gibson Woods Nature Preserve in Hammond, a great show of nature within an urban setting. Kids can get a real lesson in the ways that nature adapts itself to the environment.

Finally, I cannot forget to mention my favorite end-of-the-year academic exercise – the We the People Elementary Competition this Friday at Indiana University Northwest. Youth from across the region will showcase the things that they have learned about our constitution and Bill of Rights. These children can certainly be trusted in public, they are the better angels of our nature and a light for our future.

The opinions are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at

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