A field trip can be a wonderful break in the routine for school kids as well as teachers. As kids look back on their years in school, what do you think they’ll remember? Sitting at their desks day in and day out or going on a field trip to a science fair, a history museum or art gallery? Field trips can make learning feel exciting, and they often spark children’s interest in particular subjects. They could eventually even influence a child’s career choice.
As with any trip, it’s important to plan ahead and do what you can to ensure the trip goes smoothly. In doing so, you can make the learning experience enjoyable for the kids and pleasant for the adults as well.
Choosing the School Trip Venue — The Right Field Trip for Your School Group
Field trips begin with a good idea that will help children learn. SignUpGenius1 (an event planning service) and other sources suggest that your trip venue should align with what you’re teaching. The field trip should be a structured tour (to minimize confusion) and be age-appropriate for your class.
Plan your trip based on your age group. If you have a young group of kids that are full of energy, giving them a chance to run around after a long bus ride is often a good idea. You can stop at a park, let them play on swings and eat lunch before launching into the structured tour.
Plan your school trip during a season of the year that best suits your activity. During the winter, you may have no other option than cooping up kids in a bus and keeping them indoors all day. Sometimes spring or fall is a better time for planning a field trip. Also let the venue help you plan your activity by finding out how its guided tours work. How many people can be in the group with one guide?
Take the tour yourself and look from the students’ perspectives to see if they will enjoy it. Consider how well you can tie it in with their studies. If possible, reserve the venue six months in advance.
Optimum Group Sizes for Field Trips Venues and Travel
Decide what the optimum size is for your group from both learning and traveling perspectives. Should you take several small groups on mini buses or one large group on a motor coach?
Once you pin down the activity and venue, if need be, you can organize your larger group into smaller groups, if that seems preferable.
A teacher who founded and is the principal of a senior high charter prep school in Florida suggests that teachers avoid large venues in public places where students mix with students from other schools. The reason is the potential for confusion, mix-ups and other pitfalls. She suggests keeping your group small and keeping students engaged and busy in small-group activities. There are camps and museums that cater to small groups. A local 4-H or Boy Scout or Girl Scout group has a lot of experience with field trips for small groups and can often provide you with ideas. (Scholastic.com2)
Arranging Transportation for Your Field Trip
Whatever size group you decide on for your field trip, US Coachways can provide vehicles that are perfect for that size. Motorcoaches have restrooms, which come in handy for children, especially when considerable travel time is involved. Teachers can arrange to play DVDs related to the study and field trip topic so and children can watch them on bus television screens along the way. Seats offer plenty of legroom and are comfortable for travel.
There is also secure storage space to keep equipment safe, such as cameras, laptop computers or binoculars (for outdoor science trips), first aid kits and baggage too, if the field trip is an overnight activity.
In today’s world, kids and their mobile devices are sometimes inseparable. Buses also have Wi-Fi and outlets to recharge mobile phones, tablets and other electronic devices. That way kids can also self-entertain by going online or playing games during the bus ride.
If any students or chaperones are prone to carsickness, have them ride toward the front of the bus or seat them near to the restroom.
Safety Factors for Field Trips
National Science Teacher’s Association (NTSA) Safety Advisory Board suggests that teachers visit the field trip site ahead of time to consider safety factors. Discover whether safety or health hazards exist that you will have to deal with once you arrive. If the site is private property, you will need to get permission to use it.
Maintaining control over your group of kids is a factor that can also ensure safety. There’s less likelihood that students will become involved in unsafe behavior if the learning is engaging. So, teachers must target field trip learning objectives and strategies for accomplishing them. They can ask study related questions before, during and after the trip to keep students focused.
Make it clear to the students what behavior is expected and include consequences for non-compliance. Be sure to clearly communicate the rules and consequences to parents as well.
Assign someone to supervise the students at all times. Be sure to include at least one adult in every group or include more adults if the groups are large. As part of planning ahead, meet with your chaperones before the trip and discuss expectations for students and chaperones and what to do in case of an emergency.
Be sure to exchange cell phone information so that if the group gets separated, you can reach each other quickly. You should also contact each other in the event that someone becomes ill or injured.
Even though adults may prefer sitting on the bus together, have chaperones spread out and sit among the kids. That way you have a better chance of limiting misbehavior. Never allow the kids most prone to troublemaking to sit unsupervised or at the back of the bus.
Students with Special Needs
Make sure you accommodate any students with special needs when planning the field trip. It may be vital to rent a bus that is ADA accessible with lifts, boarding devices or other facilities to assist children who are wheelchair bound. US Coachways4 can provide motor coaches, vans and mini buses that are ADA-approved.
Some students may be on medication and need to take their medications during the field trip. It’s a good idea to designate a specific adult to be in charge of administering medication to children.
The NTSA suggests assigning one adult per busload of students the job of keeping medications. The same adult would be responsible for keeping the first aid kit, which should contain bandages, disinfectant and other items. Before the trip, the adult should be given detailed instructions (medication name, times and dosages) for administering the meds. The same person must also be trained in using rescue medications, such as epinephrine injections and inhalers. If a child is under complicated medical care, then a parent or an assigned medically trained person should accompany the child on the trip and the individual should specifically supervise only this child and not other children as well.
Snacks, Meals and Food
Find out in advance whether any students have food allergies, such as shellfish, peanuts or other types of foods. It’s a good idea to have parents of children with food allergies pack their child’s own meals and snacks to bring with them on the trip.
Simplifying Meals and Avoiding Messes
Boxed lunches that contain sandwiches or wraps and a piece of fruit or package of chips are a handy way to keep travel meals simple. Messy foods like BBQ, soups or powdered donuts are asking for trouble. You should also stay away from foods that perish easily, such as mayonnaise or milk.
Bring bottled water because trips can sometimes leave travelers thirsty, and you want to avoid issues with dehydration.
Organize snacks and meals so students are not left hungry. If you know that a meal will be delayed due to tour times, then plan a substantial snack to tie the kids over until mealtime. A protein or fiber-rich snack can help stave off hunger. Limiting the amount of sugar intake is wise because when kids eat a lot o sugar, you may have some hyper kids on your hands. Also if you’re providing meals, limit each child to one dessert.
Choose the Safe, Green and Convenient Way to Travel – Charter Buses
With a professional at the wheel you know your group is in safe hands. According to statistics, motor coaches are the safest form of ground travel in the nation. They are safer than trains and individually driven vehicles. You can rest assured that your students will be picked up and returned safely.
While hybrid cars save on carbon emissions, motor coaches are an even greener mode of travel. Based on mileage and the number of passengers, motorcoaches leave the smallest carbon footprint of any ground vehicle on the environment. So, if you want to travel green, rent a motor coach.
At US Coachways, we can work with you to plan the details of your trip. Call our toll-free number at 1-855-287-2427.
- National Science Teacher’s Association (NTSA) Safety Advisory Board
- US Coachways