Here, There, and Everywhere
Memories, we’ve all got ‘em. Those of us with young children are often too distracted to remember to change out of our pajama pants before bringing our kids to school. But ask us about that one school trip in kindergarten when we went to an aquarium and saw a real octopus, that interactive dinosaur exhibit at the children’s museum, or that trip to the planetarium that sparked our lifelong fascination with the solar system, and we perk right up, no coffee required.
Our hard working teachers thoughtfully and devotedly planned meaningful adventures for us, without the conveniences of modern technology, and on their own time. Our parents, both nervous to have us getting on a bus and excited to be rid of us for the day simultaneously, bravely stepped forward and handed us our tickets to adventure: their signature on our permission slip and lunch in a paper bag.
Why Are School Trips Important, Anyway?
With the Covid-19 pandemic and the necessity of virtual learning, teachers increasingly relied on educational apps, virtual field trips, videos, and computer games to teach our children and keep them engaged. And parents? Remote learning turned us into computer wranglers, at the ready for the next re-bootin’ time. The glazed looks on the faces of our children either due to pity for our poor computer skills or screen sickness, curable only by shutting the blessed computer down once and for all.
Now that school buildings are reopening and our kids are excitedly logging off their overworked computers and returning to real-life, warm bodied people and social interactions, they will likely be given the opportunity to attend in-person field trips once again.
As parents and teachers of young children, thinking back on our own fun memories of field trips of days long past can remind us just how rewarding, educational, and engaging they were for us in our early school days. Our happy memories inspire us to get planning, so that we can ensure our kids have the same wonderful experiences that we did.
So, What Exactly Is So Wonderful About Going On A School Trip?
Here are the top seven reasons why the experience of going on a class trip is so fantastic for young kids:
# 1 B…Is For Bonding
One of the biggest reasons parents enroll their children into preschool and early learning programs is for socialization and learning how to relate to others. When headed on a trip, kids ride the bus together as a class, are paired with a buddy, and tour and lunch together as members of a chaperoned group. They experience each part of their day of exploration, new discovery, and play with their friends and classmates. How wonderful is that?
# 2 Culture, Beyond the Classroom
The importance of real-world learning about respecting diversity and cultural understanding in the early years, as experienced while venturing outside of a kid’s own bubble, should not be underestimated. When young children learn and observe the differences and uniqueness of culture and the value of life experience, they begin to develop a more caring awareness of the world and the people around them. This awareness grows and blossoms over time and eventually helps kids mature to be empathetic and compassionate people.
# 3 Caring For Community
Drawing young kids out into their communities and introducing them to the lives and experiences of people working in various professions and environments teaches kids that they have their own meaningful part to play. Kids learn that they are a part of something bigger and more significant than where they stand in the lunch line. They have a role to play in their town, city, and country. Knowing they are part of something good and greater than themselves helps them to learn to thrive and build a strong foundation within it.
# 4 Exercises In Engagement
A kid can watch a video at school about the vastness of our amazing solar system and it may or may not mean very much to them at all. But when a child visits the planetarium and watches the colorful projection of the universe onto it’s humongous dome in vivid detail for the first time, the concept of the universe becomes something wholly different, something enormous yet tangible. And truly amazing.
Similarly, having the opportunity to feed giraffes and observe them in their natural habitat with your class at your local zoo, or watching the Peppa Pig episode when Peppa goes to the zoo while your homeschooling Dad snores on the couch are two entirely different experiences as far as being interested and engaged. If you were five again, which would you rather?
# 5 Wonder and Nature Go Hand-In-Hand
Children have a natural capacity for wonderment and excitement when it comes to the enormity of nature and all of its many marvels and extremes. Given the opportunity to venture out into thick of it, the space to roam and observe freely within nature’s grasp, to touch and interact with creatures living outside the confines of the classroom aquarium, further fuels their wonderful minds and delights them.
# 6 Questions, Answers
Nothing gets a child’s inquisitive mind working quite like hands-on science experiments on a visit to a local nature center, or being asked to interpret the meaning and purpose of the cool paintings at your city’s art gallery. With their fascination, never ending battering of questions, and dirty hands often comes an emerging ability to think critically and independently.
# 7 Eyes, And Ears. Mouth, And Nose.
Considering the average five year old cannot sit still for longer than approximately five seconds, any destination with activities that incorporate sensory play, in any way, shape, or form, are basically a must. And having the ability to listen to new music, taste new foods, and feel unusual textures during the school day is a wondrous thing, indeed!
School Trips, Not Just An 80’s Thing
As parents and teachers of young children, thinking back and recalling memories of our own early class trips can remind us just how rewarding, educational, and engaging an experience they were for us throughout our education. Our experiences on these trips shaped and defined us in immeasurable ways. The memories remind us to plan those same happy adventures for the little ones in our lives.
So, let’s back away from our computers, slowly, and get planning! Last one done has to be a chaperone.
Permission slips are standard and required for high school field trips in the United States. Yet, what about high schools in other countries? As a teacher who has taught in Europe many years and in China for one year, I went on many field trips outside of the U.S. What do they do different and why?
The educator’s task to arrange a field trip, get all the parent permission slips, then deal with students outside of the classroom and school environment never crossed my mind doing my graduate work.
One thing that is rarely ever covered in new teacher training is how to do what many of us in the profession consider to be “the easy stuff”. Things like how to use the copier, how to set up a classroom, and how to create and send out a movie permission slip.