Your child’s class is going to the museum and they need chaperones. Are you going to volunteer? Are there specific requirements you must meet? Does your child want you to come along? The answer is yes, on all accounts.
Spending some time with your child’s class on a field trip gives you the unique opportunity to get to know his or her classmates and teachers in a more relaxed environment. It allows you to observe your own child’s interactions with schoolmates as well as other adults and to have some fun learning and exploring new things.
Volunteering can also fill a crucial need for the teachers and the school, because without the proper amount of volunteers willing to help on these fun outings, they simply cannot do them. A ratio of one chaperone per 15 students is required, but more is ideal as it takes several adults to assist the teachers in keeping students safe and on task.
I’ll admit I am usually the first one to volunteer. While it’s true I have a hard time letting go of my kids, I also really love going on the field trips with my children. Here are some tips I’ve gathered to make sure your experience goes smoothly and is enjoyable as well.
Make the decision to go and turn in the forms and any money required as soon as possible. This is especially important for you as the volunteer. Liz Stark, the volunteer coordinator for Alachua County Public Schools, stresses that you must fill out a volunteer application form either online or on paper and have it approved prior to the day of the trip. Please do not wait until the day of to fill out this necessary paperwork or you may not be allowed to attend. Her recommendation is to go ahead and fill out this information at the beginning of the school year so you are ready to go whenever the need arises.
Be sure you meet the minimum requirements for parent volunteers as field trip chaperones. Per the SBAC website you must:
A – Be a responsible adult, twenty-one (21) years of age or older, unless the chaperone is the parent/ guardian of the student attending the trip.
B – Register as a school volunteer and complete a background check against the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s sexual predator/sex offender registry.
C – Be approved in advance by the Principal.
D – Conduct himself/herself in an exemplary manner at all times.
Be prepared! Wear appropriate attire for the trip. Please do not wear spike heels to walk around in nature with 8-year-olds or a string bikini to a water park with fourth graders. Bring a small backpack or fanny pack (I’ve heard they are coming back in style) with supplies such as Band-Aids, hand sanitizer, tissues and small pieces of hard candy in case you or someone else needs it. My son’s first grade teacher gave out field trip “goody bags” containing these simple items and they do come in handy!
Be on time! Follow the bus if you aren’t riding on it.
Be sure to get your group assignments and itinerary from your teacher as soon as you arrive so you can alleviate those students from her workload.
Be kind and treat the other children in your group like you would want your child treated. Some children may not be accustomed to being without their parents and may be scared or act out.
“Most of all have fun and be a part of the out-of-the-box learning experience. It’s a day out of the classroom for the kids and a day off work for you too!”