Posted by: Kirsten | Friday, 12 September 2008

The National Park Service “For Teachers” pages

Several years ago, at a Maryland homeschool convention, I held a session for parents on including the National Parks in their homeschool curricula.  I was just starting to run with this as an idea, and as a family, we were just starting to homeschool as well.  It also seems that NPS was just starting to get its arms around the nationwide educational potential of our National Parks.  Back then you could find a smattering here and there from some parks showing teacher resources or curriculum being made available on the park website.  But since that day, the NPS website has blossomed with educational resources available to all of us at the click of a mouse.

Fort Smith Natl Historic Sites For Teachers page

Fort Smith Nat'l Historic Site's For Teachers page

 

Just about every park now has a “For Teachers” page that includes such things as:

  • Planning a Field Trip
  • Curriculum Materials and Lesson Plans
  • Professional Development
  • Guest Speakers
  • Materials for Loan / Traveling Trunks
  • Online Galleries, and
  • Fee Waiver information and forms
     

Be sure to check them out when planning your homeschool trip to a National Park, Historic Site, Monument, or other NPS unit.  You can create pre-visit work, onsite activities, and post-visit assignments with relative ease.  While most resources are geared toward larger groups (the public school crowds), just about anything offered can be adapted for your own family or a group of homeschool familes travelling together.

And if you’re researching those park fee waivers, don’t be put off by language on the forms that usually mention every type of school option except homeschooling, or throw questions at you like “do you have a tax exempt certificate on file with your state?” or statements like “please put your request on school letterhead”.  Every park I’ve asked regarding fee waivers has said that homeschoolers were eligible, but it never hurts to ask the question first.  And if you do hear of an NPS unit who claims that homeschoolers aren’t eligible, please let me know. I will do my absolute best to get THAT straightened out — and that’s a promise!

Parke Diem!
— Jon

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