Field trip day is most students’ favorite day in the entire school year. The idea of getting out of the classroom to experience something new and different is very exciting. As an adult who is planning or assisting with the trip, however, it can be a different story. Sometimes you’re simply stressed – wondering how you’ll keep the kids in order, hoping everyone stays safe, and crossing your fingers that the students actually learn something. Fortunately, field trips can be relaxing and fun for you as well. Here are ten tips to get the most out of your trip.
Visit the Site Ahead of Time
Planning a trip to a museum, cultural center, or park? Take the adult team there first, without the kids. It will help you get a feel for how things are laid out and what to expect. One of the most important things to do, especially if you have young children on the field trip, is to map out exactly where all of the bathrooms are. Knowing this in advance can prevent several emergencies!
Work With Your School’s Procedures
You don’t want anything about the field trip to get derailed because the rules of your school were not followed. Be sure you know what type of permission slips are needed and how far in advance to send them home. Follow up regularly to make sure everyone has a chance to attend. Your school may also have rules about what buses can be used or whether you can rent a tour bus in Toronto. The type of trip may play into this decision as well.
Develop a Clear Schedule
Both children and adults do better when they know what to expect. Create a clear schedule that includes details about travel, pit stops, activities, and breaks. Everyone should know when and where to meet the bus before and after the activities. When all of the adults are aware of the schedule, they can help shepherd the children between activities and make sure everyone arrives safely and on time. Give each adult a printed copy to keep in their pocket.
Store All Electronics
Today, even elementary school children are carrying their own cell phones and electronic devices. Make sure the rules about not bringing electronic devices into the museum or activity site are clear. You may be tempted to allow phones for photos, but they will be a much bigger distraction than benefit. You’ll also need to watch for gaming devices and have a storage spot for electronics you have to confiscate during the learning activities.
Educate Adult Chaperones
You never want to assume that people know what you want them to do. Be sure the expectations and responsibilities are clear. You should also appoint someone that chaperones can ask questions of if specific details are not clear. There should also be a written code of conduct for chaperones and clear consequences for violations.
Kids do best with targeted, hands-on learning activities. If there’s a museum, focus on just a few exhibits rather than trying to get a tour of the entire collection. See if there are things your students can touch or interact with, or arrange to bring something related to what they’ve seen. You can also work with the staff at your field trip location to have students participate in a planned and controlled tour or activities.
Sometimes schools can’t afford to pay the full costs for every student. Unfortunately, not every family has the money to send their children on school trips. Do your best to keep costs low and try to create scholarships or low-cost options for families that can’t afford the fees.
Let Kids Know What to Expect
To a student, a field trip is an exciting adventure. However, they’ll learn more if they know what to expect and what topics they’ll be learning about. Try to tie the classroom lessons into the field trip in the days leading up to the event. You can also talk your students through the feelings they’ll have on the trip and how to handle them with maturity, especially if they are younger kids. Remind them that even if they’re excited they should listen to instructions and keep their hands to themselves.
Allow Time for Decompression
Children have a hard time being focused and still for hours and hours on end. Do your best to build in play time – especially for younger kids – before they return to school. Youngsters can blow off steam and an older class will appreciate having time to reflect on what they’ve learned and talk to classmates about it.
Relax and Have Fun
In the end, you can’t control every part of the trip. Do your best to plan and then relax and enjoy the event yourself. With some patience and good humor, everything will go just fine.
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