Making the most of a field trip at school

Last Updated 27 January 2016, 18:30 IST

Educational trips are generally stimulating and enlightening. Consider a tour of a local factory, restaurant or bank that would require only transportation and meal costs to create an affordable educational trip and valuable community relations between businesses and students. Children learn about different professions, ideas and opportunities when they travel outside their own neighbourhoods. A field trip can awaken the desire in a child to try new things and pursue previously unconsidered dreams. Field trips can introduce children to job opportunities and spark new interests and passions.

Educational trips should always have a major teaching element, but their impact can extend much further. The importance of educational trips includes giving students the chance to build closer bonds with their classmates, experience new environments and enjoy a day away from the classroom.Memories of school educational trips are among the most prominent of the formative years, largely because they are a welcome break in the routine for both students and teachers. While their purpose is essentially to educate, they can also be a fun bonding experience for everyone involved. The advantages of educational trips are several:

*Reinforcement: The trip can reinforce what a teacher has been instructing in class about a subject and help students understand the topic better.

*Engagement: Teachers turn trips into mobile classrooms, instructing students to collect data, then quizzing them or assigning a project based on what they learned during the outing.

*Socialisation: Taking students into a new environment gives them the experience of travelling in a group and teaches them to be respectful of the locations they visit.

*Curiosity: Students who go on educational trips find that they want to learn more about the subjects on which the trip focused.

*New sights: When students and teachers are together outside the classroom, new educational environments and experiences are possible. Students may have the opportunity to observe many things that are not available at school, including exotic wildlife, rare plants and maybe even the stars, if the educational trip is to a planetarium.

Discussing the educational trip beforehand is wise because it allows students to know what they will experience during their time away from school.

*Bonding: Getting away from the everyday atmosphere of the classroom gives students an opportunity to spend time with each other in a new environment. They may be able to connect at a more personal level. A trip in the early part of the term will allow students to bond with classmates they may not know very well.

*Informal learning environment: Educational trips provide valuable educational opportunities away from the classroom, without using textbooks and other tools used in a normal school setting. Students on educational trips can often learn while having fun in a more informal environment. If the educational trip destination has staff members who do hands-on teaching with visiting students — such as at a science centre or historical museum — the children will be excited to learn from someone new.

*Variety: Educational trips also function to put some variety into otherwise regimented lesson plans. Instead of spending every day in the classroom, students get to learn in a new environment with new instructors. Educational trips also may give students a chance to interact with students from other schools as they learn together or participate in group activities.

*Learning styles: Educational trips will often cater to more than one learning style, making them excellent teaching tools for certain students. Classroom lectures apply primarily to audio learners, who learn best by listening. Visual learners can benefit from visual aids, which exist in the classroom, but are much more frequent during an educational trip. Finally, for tactile learners, educational trips offer an uncommon opportunity to perform hands-on learning.

*Enhanced sense of community: If your educational trip is to a local destination, students will gain a better understanding about their community. This sometimes boosts the students’ interest in being an active citizen to help preserve what makes the community special.

*Classroom inspiration: A student who sees, touches and smells historical relics, ancient artefacts and original sources of text becomes motivated to learn more in depth when he returns to the classroom.

*Connection to community: For low-income students or students who are new to the school, educational trips that take advantage of local resources promote community connectivity. For example, a student may not ever have the opportunity to visit a local park or bank, which is an important resource within a community for both the student and his family. Students from non-English-speaking families or who have recently moved to the community get the chance to learn about the local area with the guidance of their school, as well as share the information with their family when they return home.

So explore the world of educational tours to broaden horizons.

(Published 27 January 2016, 17:27 IST)

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