I never like to hand out parenting advice. Even when someone comments that I “must know so much” because I have four children. Honestly … each of my boys is so different that my hubby and I are constantly looking at each other and shrugging when faced with a new question to answer or problem to solve. It is still trial and error, even four babies in.
But, one thing I have learned in the past 13 years is to stay involved … with their school, with their activities, with their friends. That’s advice I’m happy to share.
The secret is they want you to see what their school life is like. (Even my middle schoolers ask if I can chaperone events and field trips.) I don’t think you need to hover over your child and be in his classroom every day; that’s not really helpful for anyone. But, going to the school’s family events, eating lunch with him in the cafeteria every once in a while, or chaperoning a field trip can help you feel like a part of his world away from home.
Still, many parents are afraid of field trips. They imagine complete chaos and loud bus rides and being in charge of 15 children by themselves. Not one field trip I’ve been on has been chaotic. The teachers plan these things down to the last minute detail. They want everyone to have fun – and they don’t want to lose any children! Most of the time, you’ll be in charge of your own child and 2-3 more. Totally doable.
And yes, I know it is difficult to go on field trips if you work full-time outside the home, but if you’re able to use a personal day, or even a half-day, I promise it will be worth it.
I’m not gonna lie; there will be a lot of kiddos with shrill, loud voices. And you might have to endure a Kidz Bop sing-along on the bus ride. But, there will also be unexpected rewards as a result of your chaperone duties.
- You’ll have crazy-good quality time with your little one. I remember looking at my son several times during one of the field trips, and he was so proud to have me there. This was a special event his class had been looking forward to for months, and he loved having me be a part of it. It was a strangely unique (and wonderful) time because I could give my attention to him, instead of dividing it between multiple siblings. We had such FUN together, and now we have memories and pictures to help us relive these sweet Mommy-Son experiences.
- You’ll get to see him interact with his school friends. I always wonder what my child’s attitude and personality are like when Mama is out of sight. We have control (most of the time!) over how our children speak and act in our homes, but once you send them off to school, it’s up to them to use manners and act like civilized little humans. At least that’s what you pray they do. Going on a field trip with your child’s class puts you on his turf, and lets you peek inside his peer world. You’ll get to observe his conversations and interactions with classmates, and you may just learn a few things about your little one’s social skills.
- You’ll get to know his teacher better by being a part of her/his “team” for the day. The short conversations before school don’t really let you see the whole personality of your child’s teacher. Spending the day out and about with her and working together to ensure the kids have fun and stay safe allows for more interaction and camaraderie. I’ve always ended up with a better, more relaxed relationship with my boys’ teachers after I’ve chaperoned a trip with them.
- You’ll go to some really awesome places! Museums, performing arts centers, dairy farms, zoos, historical forts, football stadiums, planetariums are just a few of my boys’ trips that come to mind. Most of our field trips have introduced us to new places in our area or places we didn’t know allowed public access – and given us ideas for future family activities! Bonus: Often these visits include a private tour or talk while the class is there, so the experience is a little “extra special” for the kids and adults who come via a school trip.
- You’ll gain a new appreciation for your own child. This is especially true for extended or overnight field trips. Every child has little quirks and not-so-amazing parts of his personality, but never will you be so thankful that your child is the one coming home with you than after learning a little more about the kiddos in your chaperone group.
My most memorable field trip was with my kindergartener’s class last year. It was a walking field trip, so no bus ride. We went to the University of Florida football stadium and were escorted by student athletes around several areas of the stadium. I went on this field trip when my older two boys were in kindergarten, too, and have loved it every time. The kids were so excited to be in The Swamp, and the parents were excited to see the underbelly of it. It was so much FUN and I’m so glad I took the opportunity to experience this with my little guy.
If you’ve been hesitant to chaperone a field trip with your kiddo’s class, maybe this will encourage you to try it out. I promise the memories will be worth playing hooky from work!
Dana is the content creator and founder of 39ishlife.com. She lives in Florida with her husband and four sons. When she’s not running someone to baseball, she is writing, editing, and avoiding the sink of dirty dishes. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.