We all have a thousand reasons why we can’t go on field trips but here are 10 reasons we should. If you are trying to find the time to fit one into your busy schedule, some field trips only last a couple of hours, the same amount of time it takes to have your teeth cleaned (wink).
1 › Perspective
You probably didn’t appreciate the 15th century reconstructed Iroquoian village in its entirety when you were 10, but you might now. (I said, “might”.)
2 › Lunch ideas
We are inundated daily with cookbooks, e-blasts and sometimes suggestions just pop into our inboxes but nothing compares to watching the green celery glow of 50 same-age kids opening their sacks in unison and getting some fabulous (feasible) ideas for future lunches.
3 › Play date selection
How many times have we heard, “You can’t choose your kid’s friends.” That’s true, but you can choose who you might want to come over to your family home. If there’s a child who continues to wrap Iroquoian artifacts around his/her face to scare classmates, maybe they are not at the top of the list for a camp out.
4 › Talking to the teacher
How often do we get 30 minutes on a bus (or more if the driver gets lost) to talk to our child’s teacher about anything that isn’t related to curriculum? Find out how your child is socializing. Are there relationships that are building your child’s confidence or tearing them down? Are they active on the playground or do they keep to themselves? Do they contribute to classroom discussions? Is your child a bucket dipper or filler?
5 › Watching how your child interacts with his/her peers
One of my favourite things is acting as a spy among them. I want to know if my child is respectful of others or listening to the tour guide. And it’s interesting to see if leadership qualities stand out.
6 › Bus activity
Look around a school bus spring loaded with kids and you can take in a number of behaviours. Do they sit and face the front? Are they dancing in the aisles? Do they dive into their lunches early, share food, play online poker? Are they easily influenced when bad behaviour presents itself?
7 › Socializing with other parents
I can’t think of a better opportunity to get to know the parents of other kids than on a school field trip. You get to see how they respond to conflict, how they discipline or speak to kids (play dates always in the back of my mind). You see how they pull a spare pair of gloves out of their pocket to give to the child who forgot, or share their snack with the kid who hasn’t had enough to eat. Maybe you find out about extracurricular activities you didn’t even know existed in the area. Maybe you learn their child signed up for chess club for the first time and would love some company.
8 › A day in the life of a teacher
I think we all have moments when we think we can do a better job than our child’s teacher. You might feel differently after walking a mile in their mukluks.
9 › Independence
I am always amazed to learn my child is more capable than I thought. I have watched three-year-olds zip up coats I didn’t think they could do themselves, five-year-olds open lunch containers I assumed required a helping hand, 10-year-olds swing from monkey bars I thought were far too high.
10 › Appreciation
When your child asks you to sit at the front of the bus and whatever you do, do NOT wear the orange crocheted hat, so they can sit at the back with their friends, but asks to sit with you on the way home. Priceless.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, October 2014.