Let me first tell you that field trips are not like they used to be. Of course everyone had different experiences but, the little I do remember about elementary school was the excitement of field trips and the anticipation of who was going to ride in your car or which car you would ride in. If your parent volunteered to drive for the field trip, you got to pick who rode in your car. This automatically made you the ‘cool kid’ of the day and people would beg all week prior to, to be picked to ride in your car. Of course your mom’s car could only hold so many people. So imagine the devastation of not getting picked by a cool kid and ending up with Billy, the nose picker and his weird mom that listened to AM stations only. I remember what the simple volunteer permission slip consisted of, how many seat belts are in your vehicle and a line for a signature. My daughter’s school was a much different approach, they requested a full background check, like a potential employer or a bank loan, and made us watch a 20 minute video of what their ‘volunteer expectations’ were. This background check required my social security number, a reference, and all of my contact information. This made me wonder if we were going on a field trip or would I possibly be adopting these children that rode with me afterwards? Nevertheless, I have nothing to hide and gave full consent. I really don’t even understand why all of this was required considering that only your own child rides with you to the destination. Maybe this is a top secret way for Sallie Mae to get my new address? But my real guess is that a handful of weirdos along the years messed up my plans to sing karaoke with my daughter’s classmates and her chance to be cool for a day. Field trips are also not called this anymore, they are now ‘field studies’. They are expected to actually learn something vs. a chance to hang out with their friends outside of school for a day. Perhaps this was a requirement before but once again, the little I do remember was not learning anything from field trips. However as a parent, I did learn to appreciate a few things:
I appreciate not having multiple kids
I was assigned a group of three children, only three folks and I’m pretty sure there are three new grey hairs somewhere in my head. Being responsible for more than one kid at a time stressed me the fuck out! So many questions at once and so many different personalities to cater to. I was in constant motion. If you think all 5/6 year olds act the same, you’re totally wrong. I feel like kids in the early stages pretty much all do the same thing, but this is really the age where their personality shines through and as a parent you start to determine how you want to mold your child based on their preferences. Think about it, really think about how even your Christmas shopping has drastically changed. Before we were looking for things for our kids that told us what was appropriate for their ages, boxes that were clearly labeled 6-9 months, 12 mon.-2 yrs, etc. Now we buy based on their personality, now you are choosing legos because you’re child is creative, you are choosing paint by number books because your child is really good at art, we are now buying things based off of who are kids are and what we envision them to be as adults. I was on eggshells determining how to respond to all these personalties and beyond grateful that I walked out of there with only one kid to worry about.
I appreciate my child’s teacher more than ever
Of course we all know the difficult tasks of being a teacher. Unfair wages, parents that think their kid can do no wrong, trying to find creative ways to teach students that all learn differently, etc. A classroom of 20 kindergarteners is totally different than 20 kindergarteners in a new place with virtually no limits to what they can get in to. You are ultimately expecting 5/6 year olds to transition classroom rules to a place with no boundaries. When they stepped off the bus, they looked like they had been released from prison and dropped off in Las Vegas with thousands of dollars to blow. I tip my hat off to teachers that don’t resort to physical violence when dealing with kindergartners on field trips. Teachers should be able to walk into a store and show proof that they coordinated a field trip in exchange for a free bottle of wine.
I appreciate my job more
Although my job can be stressful, it usually takes a few hours to build it up. My stress on the field study was pretty much automatic upon arrival. At work, people complain about their problems, but usually we laugh at the end or make arrangements to attend happy hour afterwards. With kindergarteners, they whine about their problems. When kids whine, they make this painful face, their voice gets very high and they just act like the world is ending. Whining is pretty much like fingernails on a chalkboard for me. At home when my kid does this, I pretty much ignore her or tell her I can’t understand whining and she proceeds to talk to me like a human being. I couldn’t ignore a whole group of kids, when they whined, I had to pretend like I was ok with it. I couldn’t reprimand someone else’s kid for something that might be allowed in their household.
Field trips essentially help with developing kids’ social skills with other children outside of a classroom environment. I encourage you to chaperone your kids field trips, not just to be engaged in their school life but to gain awareness of how your child’s personality compares to others in their age group. Chaperoning field trips can give you some insight on things that you’re doing right and some things that might need to be tweaked. Go!