Building Community Through Shared Experiential Learning

 

Article by: Kelly Farrell for OurKids.net, Canada’s trusted source for camps and schools.

Everyone needs moments when they step back and marvel at how far they’ve come and the deeds that they have accomplished. Events that bring the whole school together aim to create the shared euphoria of being successful together and creating shared memories out of shared positive experiences.

Experiences outside of the classroom are important to more than just enhancing the academic curriculum; they build stronger social skills and emotional confidence in one’s ability to try new things. For many days, and even weeks following such an event, students will talk and laugh together about things that happened, and that kind of camaraderie is difficult to create in a typical day-to-day classroom experience.

How Field Trips Build Our School Community
At Star Academy, a recent school excursion was a powerful reminder of the vibrant spirit that schools such as ours bring out in our community. The entire school body embarked on a full day adventure to downtown Toronto’s beautiful waterfront where we attended the Make & Skate program at Harbourfront Centre. The day included a half day of skating on their outdoor rink overlooking Lake Ontario and a half day art workshop taught by Harbourfront’s skilled artists. Students were given an opportunity to explore new artistic mediums, including clay modeling and lino printing; many students then gave skating a try for the first time!

Everyone was engaged in the activities and felt safe to try new experiences and experiment with new skills. Those who were more comfortable with art or skating eagerly helped their classmates creating wonderful leadership opportunities. Students and staff alike returned with only positive memories; the day reflected a perfect blend of artistic and athletic experiential learning. With our energetic staff showing their stripes outside of the classroom, our students soared to new heights, learning new skills and creating new bonds with their teachers and classmates.

Events and Field Trips Throughout the School Year Help Build Community
At our school, the year is punctuated frequently with such events to continue to give our students new experiences that they can use to grow as young adults, made all the more powerful when they are able to share their accomplishments with their peers.

As a parent, it is important to understand the positive impact that sending your child on school trips can have for their social and emotional development. It will help increase their confidence and independence. A few things to help you and your child prepare for upcoming school events or trips:

• Don’t make field trips optional for a child. Keep in mind that teachers and staff have planned trips to enhance their educational experience. It is so important for all children to have an opportunity to experience field trips with their classmates. If the child really doesn’t want to go, sit down with the teacher and make a plan with the child to help make the day successful.
• Talk about the trip for a few days before. Ask your child what kinds of activities they expect to partake in on the trip. Ask them who they might want to sit with on the bus. Remind them that there is usually an option to sit with a teacher if they ask.
• Pack your child’s backpack with them; let them pack their own lunch (don’t worry as much as usual about balanced diet). If their lunch is something they want to eat, they will be more likely to enjoy it and feel comfortable eating it on location. A good mid-day meal will also fuel them throughout the day.
• Get them to bed early the night before. They will be excited and/or nervous, but a good night’s sleep will go a long way to helping them last the whole day.

Find free experiential field trips in your neighbourhood at Field Trip Factory: www.fieldtripfactory.ca

Give your kids the best school experience this year.
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