Planning a school field trip can be daunting for teachers and chaperones. From deciding on a destination to securing financing and school field trip transportation, the list of to-dos seems to be never-ending. However, field trips in school are some of the students’ most cherished memories and present a unique opportunity to experience what they have learned in the classroom in the real world. The efforts are well worth the reward. To make organizing school trips less stressful, we’ve put together the eight steps to planning a field trip to make this task a breeze.
Benefits of School Field Trips for Education
Although planning field trips significantly adds to the workload of teachers and educators already stretched thin by their daily duties, their benefits for students make it all worth it. Here are some of the benefits of field trips for students:
- Improving critical thinking skills: During a school field trip, students can gain essential soft skills like problem-solving and communicating, which are critical in an ever-changing world.
- Applying knowledge outside the classroom: Students will have a unique opportunity to experience their lesson in real-life situations to encourage their love of learning.
- Reinforcing classroom bounds: The shared memories of a field trip for school will encourage students to create new connections with each other and their teachers.
- Encouraging new forms of learning: From applying previously acquired knowledge to learning informally by doing, field trips in school are a great way to help students who need more hands-on teaching.
School Field Trips 101 Essentials
If you’re wondering how to organize a field trip, these eight steps will put you on the road to success.
#1. Decide on Your Field Trip Destination
When deciding on your class field trip destination, it's crucial to consider the age and learning abilities of your students. Ensure that the chosen destination aligns with the curriculum and is appropriate for their age and learning level, especially when planning for elementary school students. Whether you're planning a day visit to a nearby museum or organizing overnight school trips or out-of-state adventures, take into account logistics such as cost, available services, and opening days to prevent any potential issues down the road. Don't hesitate to collaborate with colleagues for valuable insights based on their experiences with various options.
#2. Discuss Your Trip with the Administration
Before getting your students’ hopes up, clear the feasibility of your field trip with your administration. Put together a detailed plan of your idea, including the financial impact, how the destination may benefit the students about the curriculum, which days may be best, and so on. Additionally, make sure to coordinate with the principal to ensure that the class trip doesn’t conflict with any other mandatory school activities.
Although there’s nothing more frustrating than planning a field trip for your hard work to go to waste, being on the administration’s good side and being able to answer all of their questions is essential to your success.
#3. Prepare Parents and Students for the Trip
Once you’ve worked out the details of your school field trip and received the benediction from higher authorities, it’s time to let your students (and their parents) know about the upcoming event. Hold a meeting and encourage them to sign up early so you can plan your school trip better.
Get Parental Permission
Make sure to get parental consent for each student attending the field trip. Distribute student permission forms well in advance to allow parents ample time to review, complete, and submit the required documents. A permission form should include essential trip details including the date, location, educational purpose, cost, meal arrangements, and a schedule of activities.
Collect Medical Release Forms
For safety considerations, request that parents complete medical release forms. These forms should contain information about the student's health, medical insurance, and permission for necessary medical treatment during the trip. Consult with your supervisors or school boards to determine specific student medical form requirements.
#4. Establish the Rules for Your Trip
Once you announce your plan for your school field trip, your students will likely be very excited. However, to ensure the success of your adventure, it’s usually best to set up the ground rules from the get-go to avoid any disappointments or misbehaviors.
Make sure that your students are aware of the rules for attending the field trip, such as appropriate clothing, and behavior expectations. The parents should also be aware of these expectations and be prepared to enforce any consequences – such as holding the student back – if they’re not confident that the child can respect the rules.
#5. Plan for the Food
Deciding on what – and where – students will eat is a key consideration in planning school trips. The easiest route for a day trip is having students bring their lunch, which makes it easier to respect dietary restrictions and keep costs low. However, you’ll still need to figure out where the students will go for lunch, especially if the weather is bad.
You can also organize an outing to a restaurant, whether an on-site cafeteria or an off-site restaurant. Your choice should be large enough to accommodate large groups and provide an appropriate and affordable menu.
#6. Finalize the Trip Schedule
When organizing a school field trip, you will be required to provide a detailed timeline of the activities and how long each one will take. You will also need to account for how long it will take to go from one location to another, whether within the same site or between locations. Remember that moving large groups of distracted students can be particularly tricky. Make sure that the time you allocate for each activity is realistic and in line with your student’s attention span. It can also be a good idea to plan for buffer zones allowing students to relax and accommodate delays.
#7. Make Sure Your Trip Is Tied to the Curriculum
Field trips in school should be tied to the overall learning experience. Although they are also an opportunity to have fun and relax, they should serve as a support for past or future lessons, deepening your students’ understanding of the subject and helping them to get excited to learn more about it.
Some class field trip destinations already have age-appropriate learning activities, but it may be a good idea to prepare some assignments to complete during the trip. You should also include some reading or research in class on the destination so your students understand the background better.
#8. Arrange Transportation
Coordinate transportation logistics for the field trip. Depending on your school's policies, you may use school board buses or external transportation services like a charter bus, depending on the specific needs and logistics of your field trip. Always communicate clearly with the driver, providing pickup and drop-off addresses, the number of passengers (including chaperones and teachers), and introducing yourself as the trip leader.
#9. Conduct a Pre-Visit to the Destination
Whenever possible, visit the trip destination in advance. Many venues offer free visits for teachers to familiarize themselves with the site, activities, and staff. This pre-visit allows you to plan engaging pre-trip classroom activities, take photographs for reference, and create a deeper connection between the trip and the curriculum.
#10. Recruit Chaperones
Depending on the size and venue requirements, recruit volunteer chaperones. Parents, family members, colleagues, or administrators can serve as chaperones. Hold a meeting with chaperones before the trip to clarify their roles, responsibilities, and emergency protocols. They should have contact information readily available on the day of the trip.
#11. Be Prepared for Anything
Taking your students outside the classroom can be a stressful ordeal both for you and them, so always expect the unexpected. This could mean delays, forgotten items, or more. Ensure that your planning includes flexibility and a contingency plan (Plan B) to accommodate unexpected situations. Remind students of important details during the field trip to help avoid some of these issues.
Plan for Non-Participating Students
When organizing a field trip, always consider the students who may not be able to attend for various reasons. While ideally, all children in the class would participate as it’s part of the instructional day, it's important to provide engaging activities for those who remain at school. Aim to offer these students a similar learning experience to what their peers will have during the trip. This could involve research projects related to the trip's topic or creative activities such as online scavenger hunts focused on a similar subject. Be creative and make sure that these students have a meaningful and enjoyable learning experience in the classroom.
Contact Infinity Transportation for Your Field Trip Charter Bus!
We hope that these eight steps to planning a field trip helped make your organization as stress-free as possible. The final step to the success of your field trip for school is to hire the services of a reliable school event transportation company. This step will ensure that all your students reach their destination safely while keeping the cost of your adventure low.
At Infinity Transportation, we offer a wide range of coaches and buses in Chicago, IL, to take your class anywhere. Don’t hesitate to contact us for a personalized quote or for any additional questions you may have regarding how to plan a school trip.