The joy of field trips

photo-245In Their Own Sweet Time, I have a list of 10 ways parents can enjoy kid time more. One of them is to chaperone kid excursions. As a few Mosaic Project participants pointed out to me, regular during-the-day school volunteering is tough for working parents. Some did it, but for many people, an every-Tuesday-at-10-am commitment isn’t going to fly. Chaperoning field trips, on the other hand, is a great way to get involved that gives you a lot of bang for your time buck. Field trips don’t happen too often, so it’s a limited time commitment. You get to go somewhere interesting. You get to spend time with your kid and his friends while they’re doing something they’ll find more memorable than sitting in history class.

So, as part of my semi-regular commitment to take my own advice, I chaperoned my 5-year-old’s field trip to go see the Egypt exhibit at an area museum today. I have a mini-van now, so I can load a few kids in there. I thought my kid would be excited about me doing it.

And he was. All in all, it went pretty well. Being responsible for a handful of 5-year-old boys is occasionally nerve-wracking (I had to park on the roof deck of a nearby parking garage, so there was a lot of walking through that parking garage with the crew). But it was also fascinating to see how my son interacted with his peers, being a little tough dude, yet also wanting to hug me. The mummies and tombs were interesting (to me at least) though I also got the sense that the highlight for the kids was that I let them watch Ice Age in the van on the way back to school. Indeed, one little boy wanted to sit in my car for the next hour to finish the movie!

Photo: The Rosetta Stone. Not the actual Rosetta Stone, but a replica they put in our museum.

9 thoughts on “The joy of field trips

  1. First of all, I agree with you 100% about field trips being a good way to be involved. I try to do one per year for each kid, and they love it. (On the whole, so do I!) Second, I am really excited about your new book. It’s really right up my alley. Love hearing how other women that are both mothers and professionals spend their time…

  2. I have not chaperoned a field trip (yet) but I do enjoy having lunch at my daughter’s school. The last time I went in, about 34 weeks pregnant, one of her classmates was verrrrrry curious about the baby who would be born around Christmas. (So we thought- she was born two weeks ago. Surprise! Anyway.) This classmate was NOT content with “I will go to the hospital and the doctor will help the baby come out.” She wanted to know where the baby will come out and how and, even, “I wonder how that baby got there?”. I must have repeated “Those are great questions for your mom or dad!” at least ten times.

    It made me laugh:)

    1. @Katherine – congrats on your new arrival! That’s wonderful – and so glad all is well with her. Yeah, we’ve gotten some interesting questions from our own kids. I can’t even imagine trying to field them from others!

  3. I’ve done a few field trips however at our school it depends on the teacher. Some ask for volunteers and do a lottery. Some (like last year) give the slots to the room parent(s) that come in every week to help. On one hand, I understand that it’s way more fun to go on a field trip than to herd children at lunch time but it does take away the option for working parents to participate in school activities.

    1. @Arden – I do get that the field trips are more fun, and so teachers might want to reward the parents who are always there. On the other hand, one-offs are a way to involve working parents. In the preschool situation, we needed a lot of people (no bus available; wrangling preschooler is best done in small batches) so it couldn’t just be room parents.

    2. Arden, you have a good attitude about the field trip/room parent thing. Personally, that would really bug me – so much so that I would raise it with the teacher and higher if needed. If it’s really a choice between “rewarding” room parents and including non-room parents (which frankly includes many more people those who work), a school should err on the side of inclusion.

      My DH recently chaperoned a field trip for each of our children and absolutely loved meeting their friends and watching the kids in action. The kids were super excited, but he may have topped them.

      I actually really like seeing the kids in action, but am much more likely to come in a one-off random school day to read to my preschooler’s class (and then linger to watch) or on rare occasion shepherd lunch for the elementary schooler, which honestly showed me much more about my kids’ days.

      Perhaps, it’s personality? I bristle at the suggestions of making sure I get “more bang for the time buck” or picking allegedly “special” moments over ordinary ones.

      1. @June – I don’t think there’s anything wrong with trying to be part of special moments. As parents, you’re there for a lot of ordinary moments. It’s nice to be there for ones the kids are at least somewhat more likely to remember.

  4. This is a good point. I have to admit I haven’t participated in a field trip yet (I have done some in-school activities, which I’ve enjoyed), but I probably should for the reasons you list.

    Something our kids recently did in school which I thought was GREAT was a “Heifer International read to feed program” (you can google the phrase, info. will pop up). The classroom teacher organized it, and the kids prepared (I believe) by practicing their reading, and then on 1 day (as she structured it), we parents all sent in rice and beans dishes in the morning, and showed up at 12:30 (if we could/chose to; I did, and I brought grandma, who is a big supporter of Heifer not to mention public schools). First we all shared a quick rice & beans lunch and then the kids read to the adults — basically one kid per adult at a time, but a short book or section of a book depending on the kid’s level, and for each book we put money in a jar. So we moved around from kid to kid, which was nice as I got to know my son’s classmates a tiny bit, and the whole thing lasted for an hour-and-a-half, and the kids learned about and raised money for a good cause.

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