Making the Most of School Field Trips Parents Can Make a Difference

By Laura Reagan-Poras

Teachers affirm that a well-planned school field trip make topics of study come alive by helping them associate concepts learned in the classroom with real world applications. Students retain information on the subject as a result of field trips and they demonstrate a greater interest in learning more in-depth study on their own.
There are good academic reasons to take field trips and important social ones also. Parents have a vital role to play. Parents can help enhance learning outcomes, address related safety issues and ensure the fun!

Parents Can Boost Learning Outcomes

Ask your child the following.

• 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 on the field trip?

• I know you will have an assignment to do after the field trip. How will you remember what information you need for your report or project?

Parents Can Beef Up Security

Safety concerns may arise on field trips but preparation can minimize potential problems. Increased adult to child ratios can also minimize safety issues. Therefore, volunteer to chaperone for field trips! If you can’t volunteer there are some things you can do to help keep your child safe on field trips.
• Make sure your child knows their contact information, (phone numbers, addresses, where parents work)

• Emphasize to your child how important it is that they stay with their group.

• Wash their school shirt ahead of time so your child is wearing the same color as their group.

• In a calm manner, prepare your child for what to do if they are separated from their group. You may want to make several suggestions, like return to the zoo entrance or ticket office and ask that an adult page your teacher over the loud speaker or tell your child 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. Praise your child for remembering.

• Carry a first aid kit.

Parents Can Boost the Fun Factor As Cool Chaperones

The following are a few suggestions to help boost the fun factor on field trips and avoid behavior issues by keeping students engaged. Parents 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.

• Chaperones can ask students what they think they will see when they arrive at their field trip location, while students are riding on the bus.

• Sing songs on the bus drive to the field trip location.

• Give your child an old fashion disposable camera to take their own photos on the field trip.

• Talk to students throughout the field trip about what their favorite part is.

• On the bus drive back to school, play a sequence game about what students saw first, second, third and finally, last on the field trip.

• Remember to catch students being good and affirm random acts of kindness that you see, such as:

Susie, I really like the way you are taking turns.

Joey, that was really nice of you to let Max see the exhibit first.

Sam, I heard you told the guide, “thank you.” You set a good example!

Be sure to pick up your child from school on time, especially on field trip day and get ready to hear all the good things they learned.
Laura Reagan-Porras is a parenting journalist and family sociologist with two daughters who love field trips!