Chaperoning school field trips

Ever since Jase started preschool, I have always attended his field trips except for one when he was 5 in the Gift of Time program (a special preschool class for kids who are 5 but not ready for kindergarten). Going on field trips and helping out in their classrooms and school is one of the reasons I chose to be a stay-at-home mom.

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Jase at a pizza place during a field trip for his 4-year-old preschool class.

Chaperoning a trip obviously means different things from preschool to elementary. In preschool, parents drove up to four students to the field trip location. (Two parents per vehicle.) Of course because the kids are young (4 or 5 years old), there was monitoring and directing of the students. It gets easier when they are in elementary school.

I don’t know how other elementary schools do their field trips, but our school has always welcomed as many parent chaperons as there are parents willing to volunteer. This means that for the younger grades – kindergarten and first grade – there is typically one adult for every two students.

In kindergarten, they always go to the farm. It is actually a Christmas tree farm, but it does have goats, chickens and a donkey. There are some learning areas and a hay ride around the Christmas tree fields. And best of all they have a great play area for the kids to tire themselves out after the picnic lunch.

Lexie at the San Antonio Zoo on her first grade field trip.

Lexie at the San Antonio Zoo on her first grade field trip.

For first grade, the trip is always to the San Antonio Zoo. Here they just let the parents and kids wander and tour on their own. The only requirements are not to buy anything from the gift shop and to meet back up at the front when it is time to get on the bus. With Jase’s class, I was assigned to walk around with another dad and his son. With Lexie’s class, I walked around with her and her friend whose mom couldn’t come.

Lexie making a terrarium at the Botanical Gardens on her second grade field trip.

Lexie making a terrarium at the Botanical Gardens on her second grade field trip.

This year’s second grade field trip for Lexie was the botanical gardens. While a lot of the day was spent in individual touring groups (it was me, a special-education teacher and four kids), we began the day with a lesson which included each student building their own terrarium.

In second grade, Jase went to the Witte Museum. There was an educational lesson followed by self-guided tours. Again, I was paired off with another mom and four students. Man it was harder to keep track of these boys (not to mention everyone from our school was wearing the same school shirt.)

Jase on the glass-bottom boat on his third grade field trip to The Meadows Center in San Marcos.

Jase on the glass-bottom boat on his third grade field trip to The Meadows Center in San Marcos.

Jase’s third-grade field trip by far was the most eventful. We went to the Meadows Center at Spring Lake in San Marcos (about a 45-minute drive north of San Antonio). They had six stations set up for the kids to rotate through. We made it through three stations before the storms hit. In fact, we were on the glass-bottom boat when the rain began to pour. We actually had been tracking the storm all morning and had been hoping it would hold off. The field trip was called off. Those without parents ate lunch on the bus and then went back to school. Jase and I ran for the car, got soaked and then went to McDonalds for lunch.

And this leads us up to last week’s chaperoned trip for Jase’s fourth-grade class. All five fourth-grade classes boarded charter buses and headed to the state capitol building in Austin, TX. The parent chaperons followed in their own vehicles. (Chaperons never get to ride on the buses here.)

Jase during the Vistor's Center tour at the State Capitol in Austin.

Jase during the Vistor’s Center tour at the State Capitol in Austin.

It was full day. We went to a museum, ate lunch on the capitol lawn and then toured the capitol. The students enjoyed pizza before getting on the buses to return to school. Since the drive is about an hour and half each way, this field trip did go longer than the school day. The kids left at 8 am and didn’t return until 5 p.m. – about 2 1/2 hours after school was released. The kids had a blast, and Lexie is hoping they have this field trip in two years when she is in fourth grade. (It is a new field trip. This was only the second year.)

No matter where we go or how many students I am asked to supervise, I love going on these trips with my kids. And I know they love that I am able to go with them too.

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