Field trip safety is a key-concern for educators and school administrators. Parent volunteers help make elementary school field trips safer, but there are some pitfalls along the way. Depending on the type of parent you are, traveling tips run the gambit from being content to play second fiddle to not embarrassing your youngster. If this is the school year that you will increase your visibility in the classroom and on planned field trips for the children, learn now what it takes to do it right. After all, you do want to be invited back to help out, don’t you?
Know the “why” (or: Volunteer for the right Reason)
Field trip safety is the number one reason why teachers and administrators solicit the help of parent volunteers. Planning a field trip is up to the teacher; making sure that her instructions are carried out by the youngsters takes the proverbial village — or group of helping parents.
What not to do (or: 7 Deadly Sins of Parent Volunteers)
Even though field trips for children go better when there are enough volunteers to keep an eye on the youngsters, some parents do not get invited back. Did they lack enthusiasm or zeal? No! Usually it is the exact opposite problem that turned any one of these parents into persona non grata: Over-zealousness. The seven deadly sins of parent volunteers are complaints, sarcasm, criticism and favoritism, lack of problem solving skills, inflexibility as well as inattention.
Doing it well (or: Traveling Tips for the successful Field Trip Volunteer)
- Submit to the background checks your jurisdiction requires. In some cases, field trip safety includes fingerprinting of parent volunteers and even criminal background checks.
- Accept the teacher’s authority on the field trip. Be content to play second fiddle and do as you are told. If you disagree with something, take it up with the instructor in private — after the field trip has safely returned to the school.
- Look after all the children, not just your own. The youngster might naturally gravitate toward you, but it is crucial that you do not turn field trips for children in your son’s grade into an opportunity to go off one-on-one to explore with your child. You are there for all the children, not just your own. Redirect him as needed.
- Learn about the rules ahead of time. The teacher probably does this very same field trip every year. She knows what works, what doesn’t, what she wants to accomplish and which activities are best left undone. Find out what she expects from you and the other parent volunteers. Do not forget to also learn about the venue’s rules, if there are any.
- Think through possible safety concerns. Field trip safety depends on open eyes and ears. Consider situations that could arise. For example, a field trip to a farm presents a different set of challenges than an outing to the aquarium. Some dangers are the same, such as children leaving the group without permission, while others — bites and location dangers — apply to the specific venues.
Ask for Input
Do not be afraid to ask the teacher for guidance. Do not jeopardize overall field trip safety because of your inability to recognize when you — as the volunteer — need guidance. After the trip, do not forget to also ask your child about his impression; did he like it that you came along? If he hesitates to answer in the affirmative, draw him out and get some feedback. Did he feel embarrassed by something you said or did? Find out what you can do better when accompanying him on future elementary school field trips, and you will become one of the most successful parent volunteers in class.
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