Field trips -long, sorry

Stephanie_in_TNDecember 2, 2002

How often do you kids take field trips and do think they are good ones?

I'm not happy with the trips my kids' schools are scheduling. This is a long story, sorry, so I guess I'll just start at the beginning.

Last spring, DS's 3rd grade class took an all day trip to the Space & Rocket Museum in Alabama. Yes, out of state. They took chartered buses, left at 7am and returned at 6pm. I followed (didn't count as a chaperone b/c the siblings were with me). It was a disaster! Communication from the school was bad going into the trip, I didn't have all the details til the day before. I think it was pricey for a field trip ($20 a child and they brought sack lunches, and paid another $5 for matching t-shirts to wear that day). The place was packed, the school hadn't arranged a guided tour or anything, so the kids just wandered around in small groups with a chaperone. It was all the chaperone could do to keep them togehter, there was certainly no instruction or probing questions. To me, it just looked like a day out of school. The kids' were talking more about the tv/vcr and bathrooms on the bus than about the rockets and space exhibits. One of the buses broke down on the highway, sat there with kids on it until another bus came. Parents followed in cars, not allowed on the bus, and they didn't give anyone directions. Several got separated and lost when the bus broke down. Parents weren't included in the group rate, but the teacher didn't know how much general admission was. I looked that up on line. Which is where I saw that a part of the site on the school's agenda was closed for security reasons after 9/11. When I told the teacher, she acted like I was the goofy one. It was just a lot of little things, one after another, that screamed "lack of planning." That was my first field trip experience with this school. Didn't win any points with me!

So when they sent home info this year about a 2 day trip to St. Louis in the spring, I said NOT HAPPENING! Sorry to be the mean mom.

In October, they took the 4th grade to brunch at Shoney's then roller skating. This was supposedly in place of a class party. DS went, but I didn't like it.

Now, the permission/money is due this week for my 4th grader to go to lunch at Rainforest Cafe and for my K-er to go to a movie (for crying out loud - to see Santa Claus 2!).

Enough is enough! The information letter says these trips are in place of a class holiday party. Who decided this?

I'm not doing the movie. He's just not going. These are only kindergarteners! I'm still undecided about Rainforest Cafe for the 4th grader. Am I being a mean mom, or do you think these trips are pointless, too? They are taking a risk with the safety of my children every time they take them off school property and into a public place. It should only be done with careful consideration and for education gain.

I'm gonna have to talk to someone at the school about this. I just will. I can't let it go. First question: How does lunch out or a movie fit into your lesson plans? What is your objective? I just want to hear other perspectives before I go in and spout off. Someone calm me down. ;o) I'm fine with field trips -love them, I'll go and chaperone- if they have a point! A day out of school is not a good reason! I can keep my kids home from school for a day and take them to the movies and out to lunch myself- but it would be an unexcused absense! So I also don't want my kids counted absent on the day of the trip when I refuse to allow them to go. It's the principle!

Am I the mean mom to veto frivolous field trips? Or is this school really taking too much liberty with the kids?

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Wow! It sounds to me like whoever plans these field trips, and 2 day trips isn't concerned about money first of all! :) I for one do not think that you are overreacting, the first experience sounds like a complete disaster, and now movies?? Restaurants?? Give me a break!:) YOU are right on Stephanie, there SHOULD be some kind of educational purpose behind a trip, mixed with fun of course, but movies are for family and friends, not the school.
I have one question...does your school have room-moms/dads that arrange class parties? If so, is this their idea, the movie and cafe? Do you donate money for the parties at the beginning of the year? Because, if you do, that is what the money is supposed to be for, asking for extra for trips isn't part of the idea, in my opinion. You should be upset, I do not think that you are wrong at all!!!! I'm very interested in who is behind all of this planning, and if this money could be much better spent on real educational trips, or materials for the school?? I too always worry when my kids go on field trips if I'm not able to go along, you have every logical question and concern in your corner here, now go get 'em!!:) Let us know please!!:) Good luck!

    Bookmark   December 2, 2002 at 11:44PM
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Does not sound good to me. Field trips are not a necessity. The trips, when they do happen, should be related to what they are studying. Times are tough enough without charging parents for movies and transportation with the kids from a classroom. They belong in class learning their lessons.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2002 at 3:12AM
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Stephanie, is this a private school? I just can't imagine that a public school would ask this much $$ of the parents for field trips, or schedule out of state trips, for Pete's sake! I'm right with you, I think these are way off base. And taking a K class to a movie - that sounds like a disaster waiting to happen! Roller skating, Rainforest cafe - what are they thinking????

The policy for our district - you know where I live - is each class can have one field trip per year with busses provided by the district. Anything over one, the class has to pay for the bus. Last year, when DS #1 was in first grade, they went to the Conservatory to see the butterflies while they were studying butterflies in science. Later in the year, the Columbus Bluejackets paid for a day at the zoo for every first grade class in the district, so his class had 2 field trips without the parents having to pay.

I can't imagine having a 2 day, out of town field trip in elementary school! When I was in high school, our band went to Myrtle Beach for 5 days for a band competition, but that was 13 y.o. and up.

I think you are justified to talk to the principal & the teachers and let them know what you think.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2002 at 10:52AM
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Since my 'little' vent the other day...

I have talked to the K teacher. Told her my concerns and that DS won't be going to the movie. She listened respectfully. They do this because in past years parents complained about a $5 gift exchange. Hello! The movie is $5.50! I'm still thinking, so drop the gift exchange, but whose idea was it to replace that with a trip to the movies? Wanna see a movie- every room has a TC/VCR. Wanna go to a holiday show, this town has 3 high schools and a college, ever hear of performance arts?

Anyhow... I wanted to know that DS could still go in later for the other activities after the movie (some crafts, games, I'm organizing one of them). He can. But I don't want him counted absend or tardy, it's the principle! She suggested I send him to school and let him spend the morning with a first grade class, I told her I thought that would make him feel ostercized and I'll just bring him in later. I still want to write a formal letter to the principal (and whatever part of the school board approves these things) stating my objections, if any other parents object it will make each of our voices stronger. Heck, I'd even offer to make all the arrangements for a better option next year, like having entertainment come to the school or even going somewhere with a higher educational value. So I am sticking to my decision on this one.

The Rainforest, I did some homework, checked out their website with a blurb about "educational school tours", and will talk to the teacher tomorrow. I have to make up my mind by Friday. It might depend on whether or not I can go along.

Momma Bird, it is a public school. I know, I can hardly believe it myself. When they charge for the trip, they add in for transportation, divy it up by number of kids. So the note will say "$X for admission and bus travel."

Oh well, it's not like my kids never hear the word "no." I'll just be the mean mom (flashback to my mom saying "Mean? That's how I know I'm doing my job!") In fact, I talked to my mom about this (she will usually tell me when she thinks I'm wrong LOL). She reminded me that when my kids see me doing what I think is right, instead of what makes me popular, they are learning the skills to do the same things themselves someday.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2002 at 11:49PM
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Thats absurd! I can't believe the school can get away with frivilous field trips. Too bad about the poor planning on the other one. It could have been great with better planning.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2002 at 10:16PM
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Wow, your schools must have every teacher, program, and piece of equipment they have ever wanted to be spending (frittering) like this on movies for entire field trips. Wish our state had that kind of money to spare, especially in these difficult economic times with the cuts we will have to make this year and in the next several years. We just learned that we must cut about $300 per ADA (student) from THIS year's budget! Next year will be millions more to cut. Sounds like your district has irresponsible leaders who make decisions on the easy-come-easy-go basis. Surely you are not thinking of yourselves as over funded! But you are spending like that.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2002 at 1:36PM
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Is there any updates here? I'm curious.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2002 at 11:57PM
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I don't know if I sold out of not, but I let DS go to the Rainforest Cafe yesterday. I went with, to see for myself. If I couldn't have gone, I would not have let him go. Four classes of 4th graders went - 80 nine-year olds! Oh my! It would have been better with just one class, it was hard to hear the "docent." But she was good, the tour was informative. Just very short, I think they did well, but could have done better. Talked about the elephants and the gorillas (they have animated animals), poaching and other threats, conservation... but didn't talk at all about the many aquariums. Then the kids descended on the gift shop - and materialism is what is came down to at the end. :o( And the restaurant was opening for regular lunch business as we were wrapping up. DS was mad at me because I wouldn't give him money to buy some junk. But he was over it by the time he got home, hehe.

On the up side, I enjoyed the day with my son. With him being the oldest, and two of the four still at home with me all day, I don't get to do his school stuff much. It takes a lot of effort and coordination for me to get to the school. I had a very generous friend watch the little ones for 5 hours! She's so good to me. I really appreciated the chance to see him with his friends and to eat lunch with him. And, when they fed the kids lunch, they served the adults the same thing at no charge. So I went expecting to have to pay big $$ for my meal, and it ended up free (even if it was pizza, chicken nuggets and fries).

I give the day a solid 'B.'

However, on the movie for the K-er, he's not going. I sent the note to the teacher Monday saying "it is our opinion that a class trip to a popular movie is an inappropriate use of school time and resources. We would prefer to have field trips that are educational and interactive." Signed both DH and my names. I will keep DS home in the morning, and take him in when they return for the activities. I will also stay and help out. (Thankful that I have a couple friends to swap kids for these kinds of things.) I want to send a similar note to the principal as well. Just so they know at least some parents are watching.

And that is the scoop. Oh, and I think I'll take all the kids to Rainforest for lunch while they are on winter break. It really was cute.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2002 at 10:44AM
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" She reminded me that when my kids see me doing what I think is right, instead of what makes me popular, they are learning the skills to do the same things themselves someday."

Now we know where you get your wisdom, Stephanie!

    Bookmark   December 18, 2002 at 2:19PM
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Yeah, I have to admit it afterall, she's a pretty good mom. Always there for me when I need her. But most of the time, she assures me she believes that I don't really need her to do well. I wish I lived closer to her (and the phone bill shows it).

    Bookmark   December 18, 2002 at 6:33PM
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In my opinion school field trips are getting out of hand and very expensive. My sons 7th grade class went to some type of over nite camp 4 nites 5 days. It cost us $170.00. Plus we had to purchase some items for him to take.He hated it the 3rd day we had to bring him home. And alot of others also came home. It was cold the food was terrible and the whole thing I felt was pointless. And I was shocked when I did bring him home there were 4 schools there all at once.I had to tell no one that I was taking him.I could of been a complete stranger and abducted him for all they knew or cared.
Are school has about 4 field trips per year public school and they alwats cost at least$20.00

    Bookmark   January 14, 2003 at 9:50AM
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