I went on the nth school field trip with my daughter a few weeks ago. It’s heart-warming to see how the kids enjoy discovering new things and places, how excited they are when trying things for the first time, and how proud they are when their parents can come along. The hubby and I take turns going with the Princess every year, but since I’m the one who prepares them and fixes whatever they need to bring regardless, I’ve learned a thing or two about accompanying my child on a field trip.
So, to hopefully help out parents when preparing for their kids’ field trips, here are my Top 10 Field Trip Tips for Parents:
- Know the itinerary.
Schools usually send circulars on where they plan to take the kids. Check the websites of those places so you know what to expect and you can anticipate what your child will be interested in. For example: a past field trip included Avilon Zoo in the itinerary. I checked out the website and found out it was in Rizal, which means looonngg travel time to and from the South of Manila. I also googled for blog posts, and found out that it takes approximately 2 hours to tour the place, ang laki pala nya! It’s a far cry from the smaller Manila Zoo. So, I knew I had to be ready for a long walk when we went.
- Baon food and water.
Bring food that you and your child like to eat. Read: This is not the time to try new food. Also, I’ve learned to anticipate eating on the bus, especially when you’re falling behind schedule due to traffic or something else. So, make sure that the food you bring is easy and not messy to eat. Finger food and sandwiches are better for bus rides. Remember too that not all stops have stalls or restos where you can buy food. This article here on livestrong.com has good insights. Oh, and I’d suggest to not bring dairy products, as milk is said to be a trigger for nausea.
- Keep your hands free and travel light.
Backpacks are usually best to use for field trips since they keep your hands free to hold your child’s. If your child is big enough and amenable to it, he/she can have his own “small” backpack where you can put a shirt and maybe a pack of wipes in. Have a small bag/purse you can bring down with you on museum visits or long walks in a park, as you wouldn’t want to bring all your heavy food and water in (sometimes these aren’t allowed, too). Make sure you bring along that power bank, wet wipes, tissue, alcohol, medicines, sanitary bags and extra shirts for you both. Anyway, schools usually tell you what other stuff you should bring. It would be better if you can already pack these the night before the trip.
- Dress appropriately.
The kids might be required to be in their school or PE uniforms, but you should remember to dress for where you’re going. Bring a jacket since it might be cold on the bus, and a cap since it might be hot while walking outside. Comfortable, closed shoes are best for walking in outdoor places, and keep toes warm in colder spots.
- Prepare your child and yourself.
Tell your child what to expect. It may also help if you give him/her a background on where you’re going. For example, when the Princess’ field trip included going to Intramuros, I thought it best to explain to her who Jose Rizal was and what she would see. Remember there are dungeons there and pictures of the execution. These can be difficult to explain to young kids, so it’ll give you time to think about how to answer her questions, too.
Speaking of time, it’s also important that you both sleep and wake up early so neither of you are cranky, and you won’t be in too much of a hurry for that 6am assembly time. Charge your phone. Prepare a “who to contact” card and have it in your child’s pocket or at the back of his/her ID. It might also be wise to rehearse with your child on what to do if you get separated from each other.
- Plan your schedule, but be flexible.
We know that traffic, attraction schedules, convoys, the sheer volume of kids and parents, and our bipolar weather might mean changes in departure and arrival times during field trips. So, we should still plan meal and snack times, pickup times from school, and appointments after the field trips… but still be ready to be flexible in case schedules change.
- Prepare to encourage but not to pressure.
Field trips aim to give our kids an alternative learning experience outside of the school environment. While usually a venue to try or learn new things, we should remember we are there to encourage but not to stress out or pressure them, or compare them to their classmates. We remember that each child is special and unique.
- Bring extra cash for souvenirs.
We all know how most of the field trip destinations have gift shops or street stalls with trinkets, pasalubongs and souvenir items. While you can choose to buy at every stop or not to buy anything at all, remember to bring cash. I let the Princess choose one thing she wants, and then she chooses another thing to take home for her little Baby Ball brother. So if she already chooses one toy for example, she can’t choose na at the next destination. This teaches her to carefully weigh her choice.
- Visit the restroom when you can.
Oh, we know how kids need to go like.. now! Never mind if you’re already in the bus, about to board the bus, or if you just boarded the bus. And since field trips usually mean lots of kids and parents, we know how the lines can be like in the restrooms. So whenever there’s a chance, I don’t really wait for the Princess to say she needs to go, but instead I tell her to come with me to the restroom.
- Plan to really be there.
I know this can be really bad timing sometimes when you have a gazillion other things on your mind: deadlines and issues at the office, your other kids, that A/C at home which needs fixing, etc. But inspite of all of those, try to devote your 110% attention to your child. Participate to show how fun it is to try new things, and how happy you are that both of you have this chance to experience these things together.
I’ve also seen how proud the kids are that their parents are there with them. “Mama, this is so-and-so. So-and-so, this is my mom!” Kung di ka naman ba mapangiti sa anak mo nyan, diba? And the million questions they have pa whenever you go around, right? Minsan nga, imbis na tanong, marami pa silang trivia na alam dahil sa mga lessons sa school. I’m blessed to be able to spend a lot of time with my kids, but there are new things I learn about the Princess when I go on trips like this with her. It helps me see what she’s interested in, and how she acts around her friends, teachers, and other adults.
So there, I think I’ve come up with a pretty comprehensive list. Hope these tips help you when preparing to go on that next field trip with your little one.
Happy field tripping!