Planning a Field Trip

A field trip is a fun yet educational day trip outside of the daycare. Intended to expand children's learning experiences and to enrich their knowledge and appreciation of topics discussed during daycare, field trips are a unique opportunity for both caregivers and children. To ensure the success and safety of your daycare field trips, here are some important tips and expert advice about how to plan a field trip.

Pre-Planning Stage

The more you plan a daycare field trip, the smoother the trip will go and the more enjoyable the outing will be for everyone involved. However planning a field trip begins much earlier than when your feet hit the pavement and or when the wheels on the bus start turning round and round... The pre-planning stage is essential as it ensures the children's safety, makes sure the timing of the outing fits the daycare schedule and the children's attention span, includes emergency plans and backup arrangements, and makes sure the daycare is expected by the host of your destination.

When planning a daycare field trip, here are some of the nuts and bolts to consider:

•- Distribute field trip notices to the children's parents well in advance, including destination, date, estimated time of arrival and departure, and any necessary items children must bring (i.e., sunhat, suntan lotion, money, lunch, et cetera)

•- Make sure very child has handed in a signed parental permission slip

•- Determine in advance if there will be any entrance fees and be prepared with the necessary funds the day of the trip

•- Arrange for parent chaperons when necessary

•- Ensure safe transportation, including an experienced driver, seating arrangements for each child (including car seats when applicable), enough seatbelts, and protocols to prevent children from being accidentally left alone in the vehicle

•- Prepare name tags or other means of identifying children, chaperones, and daycare staff

•- Divide children into groups or pairs and know who is in each group

•- Carry a first-aid kit and any allergy kits required by certain children

•- Exchange cell phone numbers between staff

•- Arrange a meeting spot and a departure time for the trip back to daycare

•- Have an emergency plan in case the group gets separated or in case a child gets hurt and must be accompanied to treatment

•- Arrange for snacks/meals where applicable

Establish Rapport with the Community

Some of the most popular daycare field trips include hands-on outings to the local library, fire station, supermarket, museums of all kinds, et cetera. If you are building or establishing a new daycare, you would do well to get to know, establish a rapport with, and involve the local community, including business and store owners, community leaders, librarians, museum curators, and anyone else with whom a relationship would benefit the daycare and who could help facilitate daycare goals and programs.

Whether it's a local library, bakery, dairy factory, chocolate factory, post office, zoo, fire station, police station, grocery store, hardware store, amusement park, nature trail, planetarium, florist, TV station, aquarium or airport, it pays to get to know the people in charge and to arrange daycare field trips through your contacts.

Finally, parents of daycare children can be terrific sources of field trip ideas. Find out where daycare parents work and see if they can accommodate a fun-filled, educational daycare field trip.

After a Field Trip

To promote an ongoing working relationship and friendly rapport with the places/people the daycare has visited on field trip, and just to show your appreciation, send a thank-you note to the appropriate parties after each trip. For a "special" thank you which won't be forgotten, have the daycare children dictate their appreciation of the outing, including what they learned, their most fun and favorite moments, and send pictures the children have drawn about the trip.

Now that you know how to plan a daycare field trip, put your thinking caps on and generate some great field trip ideas!