When it comes to field trips, we are very fortunate that our school district supports the many requests that we have for bus trips all over the city and suburbs of Chicago. Our students visit farms, wildlife havens, museums, libraries, and theaters throughout their school career. Learning while doing, seeing live animals and their habitats, viewing authentic artifacts, and experiencing the arts in a live theatre round out the learning experiences of the classroom. We know that when our emotions are high— with excitement, joy, humor—we remember what we’ve experienced. There’s always excitement on a field trip. Just the novelty of getting out of the routine and learning in a unique manner, is a thrill.
Field trips are also an opportunity for parent involvement. For almost all field trips, there is a need for additional adults. In some cases, a student may need their parent to accompany him/her as there are extenuating circumstances. Students who are challenged to control their impulses and behave appropriately may need 1:1 support from adults. Besides our classroom teachers, our social worker may attend the field trip to assist with anticipated behavior problems. Choosing the adults that will make the trip a great experience for all the students may be challenging.
Parents generally have an opportunity to request to chaperone field trips. Often there are considerably more parents requesting than are needed. Teachers choose parents based on several factors:
- Number of parents needed: if a parent has already had an opportunity to spend time in the classroom or on another field trip, they might not be chosen.
- Language: parents are not excluded who do not speak English well. We know that many of our parents are not fluent in English and so we may place students whose first language is Spanish in that parent’s group. The teacher can keep the group close to him/her to keep students safe.
- We always need men on field trips to keep our boys safe in rest rooms.
As a parent who worked when my children were in elementary school, chaperoning a field trip was a very exciting opportunity for both me and my child. I was able to get to know the teachers and the students in the classroom in a different context. There were times that my requests were turned down. I learned not to tell my child that I was requesting so that I didn’t have to share the disappointment.
Please continue to enjoy your child’s field trip experiences either as a chaperone or through photos and stories told during and afterward. We will continue to use our social media so you can be there virtually, if not in person.