By Amanda Johnson
The yellow school bus smelled of cheap leather and rain soaked children. A cacophony of voices rang out as I walked down the narrow aisle clutching my paper lunch bag with a peanut butter sandwich, the only thing I ate for the first 10 years of my life. Do I want the seat behind the bus driver so I could stay close to my teacher, or did I want to take the seat with the bump of the wheel underneath my feet? I loved that seat. I spot my best friend Stevie near the back and my choice is made. Before I know it, the bus bounces off. We were going to the zoo.
Once at Woodland Park Zoo, I’d forget the anxiety of leaving the classroom. I became mesmerized by otters playfully diving in and out of the water and by watching giraffes munch shoots off trees. I’d learn how chickens lay eggs and that bats really weren’t scary.
It was my first field trip.
There’s a reason my trip to the zoo has stayed with me for 20+ years. Field trips are a valuable learning experience for school age children and I’m grateful that our children get to participate them at Bothell Family Cooperative Preschool. Later this month, the BFCP toddler and 2/3 classes take an excursion to the Imagine Children’s Museum in Everett. Earlier this year, the older classes visited Oxbow Farm and pumpkin patch.
So what’s so great about field trips? Below are five key benefits to taking your kids out of the classroom and into a fully immersed sensory activity.
1. Field trips provide beneficial learning experiences outside your children’s everyday lives and their standard educational environment. Away from the classroom, preschoolers have the opportunity to see new things and learn about them in a more unstructured way.
2. In some cases, students have the opportunity to determine what they learn and how they learn it. Since kids master subjects at different speeds and have different interests, this places an out of classroom excursion in a unique position because field trips offer the opportunity to branch out from your usual setting and to learn at your own pace.
3. Field trips deepen the lessons that students are already being taught in class. Learning about pumpkins in a classroom is great, but it’s something else entirely to see a pumpkin grow out of the ground on a real working farm.
4. Many excursions are designed to spark curiosity and engage the child. This is a really fun way to learn new things.
5. Field trips encourage social interactions outside the preschooler’s normal routine. Our younger classes will learn this when they run from exhibit to exhibit at Imagine Children’s Museum playing, touching, exploring, and let’s face it, probably chewing parts of the exhibit too.
Above all, field trips are a blast. Am I right? I’m glad BFCP sees the value of them along with the fun aspect they provide. To me, a well-rounded education starts in the early years and that’s what we’re giving our children as students at BFCP.
Do you have a favorite field trip memory?