The chance to get out of the classroom and be able to explore something new with friends creates a lot of excitement for kids (and adults). Field trips are a nice change in routine, but the new setting and activities can lead to new opportunities to act inappropriately. Some students might need a refresher in the expected behaviors necessary for a fun field trip everyone can enjoy. Here are some tips to keep the peace on your next field trip.
- Make sure students know what is expected of them. Stress safety, respect, and responsibility. The same rules that students follow in class should be followed on the trip along with a few additional rules specific to the trip. Consider role-playing some common scenarios or asking students questions what they would do in certain situations. Sara is talking to Eliza at the same time the field trip leader is talking. What should Eliza do? Reinforce bus rules as not all students ride the bus to and from school.
- Make sure students understand the consequences. Reduce spur-of-the moment decisions by laying out what will happen if misbehavior occurs.
- Reward good behavior. This could simply be praise for respecting the others on the trip, paying attention to the field trip leader and behaving appropriately. Providing something special upon return, such as time to play a game or a healthy treat also has its benefits.
- Talk with problem-prone students beforehand. If you have students that are likely to misbehave, talk with them one-on-one. Ask for his or her cooperation and go over the rules and consequences. And be sure to group students appropriately to avoid any conflicts.
- Go over the agenda for the trip. Provide a schedule when students will leave, when they will arrive at the field trip location, what they might do first, if there will be any special activities planned, and when they will have lunch, if appropriate. Knowing the flow of the day will alleviate any anxieties. Make sure chaperones are aware of the agenda as well so they can answer any questions students might have throughout the day.
- Arrange enough chaperones. This may depend on the age of the group or the needs of the group, but a general guideline is to have 1 chaperone for every 8 students. If you have little ones under the age of 6, and have the volunteers, you might arrange a chaperone for every 5 students. Make sure the chaperones understand what to do should children need some redirection or see a situation that needs to be addressed.
Lastly, kids who are engaged in the field trip don’t have time to misbehave. Make sure kids are focused on what is being demonstrated or discussed. Provide some questions that students need to find the answers to or a list of items students need to find on the trip. If they are doing something hands-on and active they will be focused. After all, learning through experiences engages students in a powerful way.