When thinking back to my childhood days, there is nothing more vivid than my memories of school field trips. Field trips ranging from museums, zoos, animal farms, and the pumpkin patch all come to mind. Many of us have had the privilege of experiencing the benefits of field trips firsthand. We must understand that field trips are amazing tools to extend the classroom to the real world. As educators and parents, we can take advantage of the benefits of field trips to more effectively promote real-world learning, social-emotional development, and academic success. The benefits of field trips in early and childhood education can be tremendous!
1. Field Trips and Real-World Learning
Children are active learners as they are constantly making connections with the world around them. With an innate drive to learn and explore, field trips are the perfect way for children to learn outside of a typical classroom setting.
Before a trip, prepare your students for the unique environment. Allow students to prepare themselves by informing them of where they will be going, what they will do, the things they will see, proper clothing, and appropriate behavior. If “there will be live animals, discuss the importance of soft touch if handling is allowed. If they will be taking a hike through a hilly or wet location, talk about fear of heights or getting their feet wet.” To promote real-world learning be sure to make connections to the curriculum. It is important to emphasize the purpose and intent of the field trip. This way students will be prepared, excited, and hungry to learn more!
2. Benefits of Field Trips Include Social-Emotional Development
While the push for academics in early and childhood education has created a decline in field trips, we must understand that field trips play a massive role in social-emotional development. Field trips allow students to collaborate with their peers, explore new environments, make connections, problem solve, develop trust, and empathy. Unfortunately, we have seen field trips being used as a positive reinforcement for good behavior instead of being used as a tool to enhance social-emotional development.
3. Field Trips Boost Academic Success
Field trips are both fun and memorable ways to promote academic success. One study indicates that “regardless of gender, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, youth who take educational trips have better grades because the trips made them more engaged, intellectually curious.” With culturally enriching field trips, students can make connections to other educational fields, gain first-hand experiences, and understand concepts on a deeper level.
Students benefit as they participate in unique experiences that build on their learning. Most importantly, field trips pique the interest of young-learners, a key factor in childrens’ motivation to learn, inspiring students to engage with concepts in ways that are relevant and meaningful. Field trips reinforce topics and ideas learned in the classroom. To further promote academic success, educators can provide both pre-trip and follow-up instruction!
4. Virtual Field Trips Boost Learning Too
Virtual field trips are terrific ways to implement interactive technology in your child’s life! Virtual field trips can range from an online experience to the zoo, aquarium, animal farm, pumpkin patch, rainforests, etc.! Virtual field trips are viable options for many as they can be more accessible for families and educators! For more accessible options, consider walking around your neighborhood, visiting local shops, or even going to your neighborhood park. Virtual field trips are amazing as they allow children to explore with technology in ways that are interactive!
Awesome Field Trips for Kids
- The Drawing Center
- Brooklyn Childrens Museum
- Environmental Study Center
- New York Aquarium
- Bronx Zoo
- American Museum of Natural History
- Childrens Museum of the Arts
- New York Hall of Science
- Queens County Farm Museum
- Queens Botanical Garden
- Virtual Field Trips
All in all, the benefits of field trips are undoubtedly tremendous as they promote real-world learning, social-emotional development, and academic success. We must continue to support our educators and advocate for meaningful experiences. Our children deserve opportunities to explore and make meaning outside of the classroom too. Do not forget to document your amazing field trips to look back on!