Field Trip Etiquette

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Field Trip Etiquette

Some years back I was asked and did write an article in our home-school newsletter on what seemed to be an obvious need at the time, that of field trip etiquette. I have since come to the realization that this topic needs to be visited more often due to the various backgrounds of students and parents entering the home-school arena who simply lack knowledge in this area.

You, as parents, have obviously made the decision to train your children at home desiring their success and believing they will be better for it based on the options you have seen. For that I admire and applaud you. I know from experience the commitment that requires.

My background includes teaching in both the public and private educational fields and I know first hand the prejudice leveled against us as home-educators. First of all, we will not be perceived as "educators" if we don't look put-together ourselves much less have our children appear put together with some foresight and neatness. Being clean and neat is not a matter of having a certain income or social level. It is, however, a matter of the heart, requiring training and diligence.

You see, we are made in God's image the Word tells us and what we do with our image is up to us. God gives us that jurisdiction and privilege and we are to use it honorably.

We are to be motivated from a heart desiring to honor Him with our lives and our personal packaging is very much a part of that; an important part. We are many people's first impression of the Lord and / or home schooling. We have less than one minute to make a first impression and other's first impression is what is recalled in their memory and difficult to change. Shouldn't that impression be a good one when it is within our power to establish it?

Speaking from both sides of experience, educators who consider themselves professional look at a mom and her children and decide whether she is more capable than they of teaching and bringing structure to their academic lives. If we appear disheveled or unkempt in any way they will assume we are too unorganized to get our act together and the children we claim to teach would be better off away from us.

Here are examples of things to avoid:

  • Uncombed hair, poorly groomed hair, needing a haircut or having a style that draws undue attention to the person.
  • Dirty hands and unclean, poorly groomed fingernails.
  • Clothing that is stained, not pressed, too tight, immodest or trendy vs. a neat, polished, conservative look. (Girls are perceived as more feminine and studious in a skirt, simple dress or jumper, with no skin at the midriff showing and nothing shorter than the knees or lower cut than the collarbone. Boys are best in solid pants, a conservative print, solid, or striped shirt that is tucked in with a belt and clean shoes.) This does not require an expensive wardrobe, either. I am the queen of frugality and a firm believer in clearance sales, resale shops, Goodwill, etc. God always provides for His children and we can wisely manage a proper appearance for ourselves and our precious children.

Field trip behavior:

Any child past the age of three can be expected to look another adult in the eye and pleasantly answer a question or introduce themselves or give a greeting. Shyness is never an excuse for rudeness and it is rude to not show respect to anyone older especially, or others in general.

If an adult calls on a child in a group they should either be able to answer them or defer politely to someone who can, never give a blank stare or mutter, "I dunno....".

You may role-play responses and possible scenarios before taking them out so as not to make a questionable impression worse.

Children should always be instructed to keep their hands to themselves unless specifically invited to touch something by the person giving the talk. Touching equipment, interrupting or distracting others attending, or taking something they haven't been given permission to take is an embarrassment to all of us. Manners are caught even more than taught so look objectively at yourselves as a parent and see if you need a "check-up", too. Our children are a reflection of ourselves and God uses them to help train us as well. We must be diligent to see that the example we are setting is what they will wisely emulate.

Attentiveness, alertness and respect to the presenter are so important to show honor and deference to them. As we respect others, we also reap respect ourselves. Being cheerful, helpful, gentle and kind show that we are faithful followers of the Lord and being trained up in discipline ourselves. This is not to make us feel "puffed up" but rather should come from an attitude of putting others before ourselves. Our positive image by way of appearance and behavior will open many doors of opportunity for us as home educators. The flip side of that is that doors of great opportunity may be closed to us if we do not diligently apply these truths to the training of our children and set that example ourselves.

May the Lord find us faithful to embrace truth and follow wisdom, presenting a pleasing package to the world around us of His love and power at work in our lives for His glory.

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