Teachers affirm that a well-planned school field trip makes a topic of study come alive by connecting classroom con- cepts with real-world applications. Students retain information on the subject after a field trip, and they demonstrate a greater interest in learning more on their own.
Field trips are important for both academic and social reasons, and parents have a vital role to play. They can help enhance learning outcomes, address safety issues and ensure students have fun.
Increase Learning Outcomes
Ask your child the following before the trip to get her thinking more deeply about what she’ll learn:
• Why are you going on this field trip?
• What have you been studying in school that relates to the field trip?
• What do you expect to see?
• How will you remember what information you need for the report or project that’s due after the trip?
Safety concerns may arise on field trips, but increased adult-to child-ratios can help, which is why it’s so important that parents volunteer to chaperone field trips. If you can’t volunteer, you can do the following to help keep your child safe:
• Make sure your child knows your phone number, his address and where you work.
• Emphasize to your child that he must stay with the group.
• Prepare the proper clothing ahead of time if the teacher requires your child to wear a particular color to identify him as part of the group.
• In a calm manner, prepare your child for what to do if he is separated from the group. For example, tell him to look for a uniformed security guard or museum docent to ask for help in locating the class.
• Remind your child to go to the restroom with a buddy or small group.
• Play a brief reminder game about stranger danger and what to do.
• Supply him with a small first aid kit.
See page 2 for ways to make field trips fun!
Make it fun
The following suggestions can help boost the fun factor on field trips and avoid behavior issues by keeping students engaged. Parent chaperones can also help create social learning opportunities.
• Use name tags so new parent chaperones learn student’s names quickly. • Have the kids think up nicknames for the parents for their chaperone nametags.
• Sing songs on the bus ride to the field trip location.
• Give your child an inexpensive disposable camera to take her own photos on the field trip if she does not have a digital camera or smartphone.
• Talk to students throughout the field trip about what their favorite part is. • Catch students being good and affirm random acts of kindness that you see. For example, you might say, “Susie, I really like the way you are taking turns,” or “Joey, that was really nice of you to let Max see the exhibit first.”
• On the bus ride back to school, play a sequence game about what students saw first, second, third and so on during the field trip.
Laura Reagan-Porras is a parenting journalist and parenting coach with two daughters who love field trips. She can be reached at www.heart2heartparents.com.