Guest Post by Caitlin Tobin, The Room Mom
One of the most rewarding experiences parents and guardians can have with their school aged child is attending a field trip together. It gives parents a mini view into the classroom world of their children. Not only can adults get a glimpse of their student’s curriculum, they also get a close look at the social aspects of their children.
For the student, a field trip may seem like all fun and games, but field trips are planned with a purpose. If you volunteer to help on the field trip, teachers need your assistance in making sure some amount of learning happens, the students enjoy themselves in a controlled way, and everyone arrives back at school safely. As a teacher, I am a little picky when it comes to parent volunteers. It is not always first come, first serve. If you meet the criteria below, then get ready to sign up. I am happy to have you join our class.
1. The main reason teachers ask for parent chaperones on a field trip is for safety. Spread out from the other parents. If all parents clump together at the back of the group, you can’t help with crowd control and that is a main reason extra adults have been invited along.
2. As a chaperone, you may be put in charge of a small group that includes your own child for the length of a field trip. Be aware of your group—not just your child. Participate in the activities and engage. Encourage students to ask questions if expected and help prompt appropriate behavior and responses. Share any related information or expertise you may have to spark discussion, but do not take over. If there is a tour guide, let him or her present information. If you are expected to lead a self-guided tour, enhance away!
3. Don’t be afraid to discipline students if they wander away, are too loud, or are rude to the tour guide. Teachers want your help in this area. If you are uncomfortable disciplining, let the teacher know. Please don’t sit back and watch the unacceptable behavior continue.
4. Have a cell phone in case of emergency but do not use it on the field trip. Do not make a phone call or check e-mails or texts. If you have a job that requires you to check in often, do not volunteer to chaperone.
5. Do not complain about school issues or faculty members on a field trip. This is not a time to vent any problems you may have with the school. Along those same lines, do not try to have a parent/teacher conference while on the field trip.
Caitlin Tobin is a 4th grade teacher in Charleston, South Carolina and a mom to two elementary aged children. She organizes field trips for her students and volunteers to help chaperone field trips with her own children. She also gives helpful teacher-mom tips at www.The-Room-Mom.com. Mrs. Tobin is pictured above on a field trip related to her class’ history unit on Colonial America. Photo courtesy of a parent chaperone.
For great field trips taking place all across the country and Canada, visit Field Trip Factory’s new and improved website. Locally, FTF offers nutrition field trips at BI-LO stores in South Carolina.