Jul 20, 2012

Tips for Field Trips with Young Children


Field trips outside of preschool and daycare environments are a crucial component of offering quality programming. The trips involve proper planning and organization. Here are some suggestions for making a field trip safe and successful, followed by some field trips ideas.


Setting Dates and Location:  it is important to make sure the establishment where the field trip is planned has set dates with the commitment made weeks before the actual event. For some popular locations, such as a Fire Station,  it doesn't hurt to call months before the field trip outing. Then, a day before the field trip, call to reconfirm your visit. I have experienced arriving to places with children in tow and the employees being surprised by our arrival, and have learnt to always call and reconfirm! In addition, consider visiting the location to make sure it is safe for young children.

 
Parent Permission Forms: Provide informational sheets to parents about the upcoming field trip, at least two weeks prior to the event, along with permission forms for the families to sign. If money is required from the families for this field trip, then start collecting and recording well ahead of the field trip date.

Parent Volunteers: Place a sign up sheet a week ahead for helpers. On the field trip day, make special buttons for those parent helpers to wear, particularly  if many parents are joining in the field trip. This way, the teacher knows who to call upon for help. My suggestion is don't be shy about delegating parents on ways you need help, for instance, clearly ask a parent, "will you please hold this door open and then return to the line up". It's all about safety first, and parents will understand. At the end of the field trip try to individually thank each parent for their help. Often, these parent helpers will be repeated helpers throughout the preschool year, or daycare time period and they deserve recognition for their efforts.

Field trip Backpack: Prepare a field trip outing backpack for your classroom, filled with first aid, a spare set of clothes, a cell phone, kleenex, pen and paper, coins, plastic bags, and bottled water. Try and anticipate what you might need and prepare for those unexpected events. MAKE SURE THE EMERGENCY CARDS ARE UP TO DATE.

Group Identification: Bright colored tshirts with the daycare/preschool  logo and name on it is a great way to identify the children in a crowded place, particularly when the field trip is a busy place, such as the Aquarium.
 
Walking route: Before leaving for a field trip, if applicable, plan out the walking route.  Try and choose streets with traffic lights for crossing traffic, and consider where toilet emergencies could occur if necessary.

Setting up the Partners and Groups: Before leaving, place each adult with a small group of children that they will be responsible for when arriving at the field trip destination. In addition, carefully choose appropriate partners and their placement in the line up. Set up the children for success and safety. So, for instance, place an older child with a younger child, and separate children who like to get silly together or are very chatty with one another. Place an adult with any children who need extra help or guidance. In addition, spread out parent helpers, and always have one staff in the front and back.
 
Before leaving Checklist
 
  1. Make sure all the children have gone to the washroom
  2. Each child is wearing the field trip identification clothing: (ie: tshirt, cap) 
  3. Talk to the children at a group circle about field trip safety: how to safely walk, being courteous of other people by lowering our voices, etc.
  4. Make sure the children's emergency cards are with you in the backpack before leaving.
  5. Place a note on the door with the walking route if applicable and the anticipated time of return for any late arrivals. Alternatively, arrange with other programs, to have children who arrive late to spend time there until your return.
  6. Create the partners and line up arrrangement
  7. Head count
  8. Have Fun
 


DON'T FORGET TO COUNT CONSTANTLY WHEN YOU ARE OUT! This is the best way to assure you have all your children.
 

Field Trip Destinations

 
Overall, the questions to ask when choosing a field trip destination is will the location be developmentally appropriate and will the trip be educationally appropriate. Furthermore, will the children be able to follow the safety guidelines for this field trip location. Places to consider for field trips with preschool aged children:  

  1. Library
  2. Restaurants
  3. Pet Stores
  4. Post Office
  5. Farms
  6. Special Community Walks
  7. Riding a Bus
  8. Fire hall
  9. Police Station
  10. Nature Walks
  11. Senior Citizen Homes
  12. Grocery Stores
  13. Garden Shops
  14. Bus or Train Stations
  15. Storytimes/ Drop In Events
  16. Farmer's Markets
  17. Factories
  18. Water Parks
  19. Art Galleries
  20. Science Centers

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