A school field trip can create a rewarding and exciting learning experience for a student. But there are also disadvantages to taking your students out of a classroom setting. Budget restraints, lack of chaperones, difficulty controlling student behavior, organizing a lesson with educational value and dealing with anxious young children are potential challenges. Establishing rules, soliciting support and proper planning can alleviate many of the disadvantages of field trips.
Many schools prohibit traditional field trips due to costs, safety issues or lack of chaperones. It can prove difficult to organize field trip activities while also making arrangements for students who cannot afford to go, collecting parental consent, budgeting the transportation needs and finding enough parents that know how to control big groups of children. This can limit the resources and means for a teacher to plan a field trip. However, with proper planning and flexibility, a field trip can be a successful educational experience.
Consider teaming up with another teacher to help generate interest and have planning support. You should also plan a small field trip to a local museum or learning center earlier in the school year to gauge the success of a trip. Then, advance with planning a field trip destination that matches your curriculum’s subject matter. Try to emphasize the real-life effects of your lesson. This will strengthen student engagement because they can connect their field trip experience to their own lives.
Rules and Structure
It can be challenging to control an entire classroom in a new learning environment. It may be difficult for young learners to focus on the lesson if they are excited about spending a school day outside the classroom. Instead of trying to focus an entire classroom, break down the students into groups and plan different activities for each group that is supervised by a chaperone. Allow time for groups of students to roam and explore, with supervision, as well as structured class time. Be sure to remind chaperones to cycle through learning activities as needed.
Kids need rules and structure, and it may prove difficult to enforce rules on a field trip and foster a valuable, real-world learning experience. Students may be tempted to wander away from the group, misbehave on the bus or become loud at a museum. Kids need detailed instructions from their teachers and parents before the field trip ever starts. Spend a few weeks discussing behavioral expectations, what they will learn and the schedule. Establish consequences for breaking the rules. This may mean accompanying a teacher for an hour on the trip or detention for students in middle school or above.
Kids who are more introverted and shy may feel anxious about being out of their element. Grouping students together throughout the day can ease the fear of being alone. Enforcing the rules, grouping them with calmer children and putting a capable chaperone in charge can help make it a fun and educational field trip.
If you’re still having issues with budgeting, consider a virtual field trip. Students can still have plenty of fieldwork experience without going on an actual field trip. This may be more approachable for high school students or those in higher education, but there are a variety of virtual trips for groups of all ages.