For many parents, an outstation trip is usually the first time that their children have been away from home for an extended period, which is why it causes a lot of worry and unsettlement for both the child and parent. So, should you even send your young child on such a trip in the first place?
Whether or not you should send your 10-year-old on a school trip will depend on how your child feels about the trip as well as how well-planned it is. If you are made fully aware on the details of the trip, including everyone involved, transportation details, and where they will be staying, there is no reason to hold your child back if they express interest in going. It is also important to ensure that they have everything that they will need on the trip before they go.
Sending your young child to an outstation school trip needs a lot of preparation for everything to work out. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when planning to send your child to an outstation school trip.
Talk to Your Child About the Trip
One of the first things you should do once you are made aware of the trip is to talk to your kid. If the outstation trip is their first, give them some ideas on what they can expect. Discuss with them the significance of remaining in a group and always staying close to the teacher.
Be open with them about the importance of sticking to the rules that they follow in your presence. From my experience, I have found that the more you discuss such topics with your kids, the higher the chances that they will understand these rules even though you won’t be present to provide supervision.
Talk to the Supervisor of the Trip
Handing over the authority on your child to someone else even if it is just for a few days is a huge milestone for any parent. Picturing your child traveling and visiting new places under someone else’s supervision can be unnerving.
Whenever outstation school trips come up, I always make a point of talking to the teacher who will be in charge to find out more about the trip before I fully commit. This is when you can find out who is going, the transportation that is going to be used, the child to adult ratio, and the time of departure and return.
If you are not satisfied by the answers provided, inquire if you can chaperone so that you can allow your child to take part in the trip and witness how the trip is being managed firsthand at the same time.
Take a Keen Look at the School Policy
The school might have some rules and regulations regarding the use of electronics on an outstation trip or specifications on how children are expected to dress. Ensure that you are well-versed with these requirements so that your child complies with them to minimize delays that disobedience may cause on the day of the trip.
Inquire if Your Child Needs Money
Before sending your kid on an outstation school trip, you will want to find out if they will need any money. If they will be given the chance to buy souvenirs or snacks, ensure that they have enough money to do so. Remember, giving your kids too much to spend is just as bad as giving them too little. To be on the safe side, consider giving them the amount that is suggested by the trip supervisor as they have a better idea of what they will need the money for.
Provide Your Contact Information
Your kid might know your phone number by heart, but they may be too scared to alert someone in case they end up getting separated from the group. A crying child may be too incoherent to give your phone number and name. I make a point of giving my phone number to the teacher, but for added assurance, I also put a piece of paper with my contact details in my daughter’s bag and pockets just in case. This might seem like overkill to some, but if your child somehow ends up lost, they should have your contact information ready to make it easier to reach you.
Dressing Your Child for the Trip
On a school trip, you want your child to stand out from the crowd. This will make it easier for the supervisor to spot them in any type of environment, whether it is at a park or inside a museum. To ensure this, avoid dressing them in dark-colored clothes that will blend in – a brown shirt for a trip to the zoo won’t allow your kind to stand out. Although brightly colored outfits tend to get dirty very easily, I always try to select colors such as pink, red, and aqua for my daughter as they are more likely to help her stand out in a group of children.
Provide a List of Instructions
If your child has any special needs that the teacher should know, you’ve probably already made the school aware. That being said, consider sending your kid’s teacher a reminder and inform any other chaperones about your child’s special condition that needs to be tracked to ensure his/her safety.
Whether it is medications or foods that they need to stay away from while on the outstation trip, send a list of these special circumstances with your child to keep them safe. Confirm with the trip supervisor if they have received the instructions and ensure that are brought along with your kid on the field trip.
On the day that the group going on the trip is leaving, remember to put the necessary medical identifiers and bracelets on your child. Explain to your child that this is not meant to isolate him from his friends, but to make it easier for other chaperones who may not be fully aware of your child’s condition to know what to do in case they become sick on the trip.
Important Things that Your Child Should Pack for an Outstation School Trip
Preparing your child adequately for an outstation trip will make you feel much better about putting them under the supervision of another adult. Here are some of the things you should consider packing.
Packing clothes is an integral part of the preparation for an outstation school trip. The number of clothes you pack will depend on the length of the trip including the days on the road. Remember to pack the appropriate number of undergarments as well. You can also use the trip schedule to help you pack based on the activities that your child will take part in during the trip. You will want to add a towel and a couple of napkins as well among the clothes in case they might need them.
Even though bedding will most likely be provided where your child will be staying, consider packing at least a set of bed sheets along with some pillow covers for them to use on an overnight stay.
Although the accommodation provided for all my children’s outstation trips has always been top-notch, I prefer to pack them an extra set of light sheets not only to provide them with a sense of home but also to reduce the risk of allergic reactions to soaps used to clean the sheets they might be provided with. Before your kid leaves, take the time to show him how to change the sheets and fold them to ensure that they have an easy time if the need arises.
- Laundry bag
Yon the trip, clothes are bound to get dirty, and since your child will not do the laundry on his/her own, you will want to pack a separate laundry bag where the used clothes can be kept. Ensure that you point out the separate bag to your child so that they remember to use and refrain from mixing dirty clothes with clean ones. This will make it easier for you to distinguish the dirty clothes and wash them once your child gets back.
- Bug repellent
Bug repellent is an essential for me especially since my daughter tends to break out in hives when bitten by bugs. Even if your child is not allergic to bugs, consider packing bug repellent for them to use as they might still end up with bite marks or itching. Instruct them on how to apply the repellent, and alert the trip supervisor to remind them in case they forget.
Prepare a toilet bag that has several compartments and put in bathing soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, moisturizer, hair oil, comb, hand washing soap, and sanitizer. Show your child how to return each item neatly to its compartment after use. For your daughter, you might want to include sanitary napkins in case of an emergency.
- An extra pair of footwear
A school trip will involve a variety of activities, with some being more rigorous than others. To be on the safe side, pack your child an extra pair of shoes if the current ones get worn out or dirty. Select the shoes to pack based on the weather as well as the activities spelled out in the trip schedule.
Snacks are important for staving off hunger on extended trips that have minimal stops. Fruits are a great healthy snack for your kids to bring along. Wash fruits such as apples, berries, and oranges before packing them in a container.
Yogurt is another healthy option that provides a great source of calcium and vitamin D. Pack some regular yogurt, or flavored yogurt if your kid is a bit fussy. You could never go wrong with granola bars as they are high in nutrients and very filling. Additionally, you can make some at home with the numerous easy-to-follow recipes that are available online. You can also prepare fresh fruit juice at home and pack it in a container for your child to enjoy on his/her way to the destination. To reduce the risk of spillage, pack them several straws that they can use to sip their drinks with.
- A torch
A torch that features a fully charged battery can be especially useful in case of an unexpected power outage. Pack one for your child on an outstation school trip to make it easier for them to navigate sudden darkness and allow them to feel a bit safer.
In addition to packing medication that your child is already on, consider adding medicines for fever, nausea, stomach aches and headaches as well in case of a sudden illness while on the trip. Inform the trip supervisor about the medicine so that they know where to find it if it needs to be administered.
Maintain a Calm Routine on the Day Before the Trip
Before the trip, your child might be overcome with anxiety about leaving home on their own for the first time. I experienced this with my firstborn and found that establishing a calm routine on the days leading up to the trip and on the night before his departure helped him mentally prepare and put him more at ease. Plenty of rest will make a significant difference in your child’s outlook on the trip.
Ask Questions about the Trip Once Your child Gets Back
After the trip, ask your child how it went. Talking about such experiences with your child will help you determine if they had a good time and play a huge role in your decision to send them on a future outstation trip. Additionally, it will also help to cement the experiences in your child’s memory and treasure the fun aspects of the trip for years to come.
Connect the Trip to the Curriculum
An outstation trip is typically an integral part of your child’s curriculum, and while it also allows for fun outside the school environment, it is important to discuss the educational aspect of it as well. Help your child make a connection between the trip and the related school unit to make time spent in the classroom after the trip more fun.
An outstation trip provides a great opportunity for your child to learn and have fun. However, it requires a lot of preparation on your part to be successful. Once everything is set and you have properly communicated your needs with the chaperones, there is no need to keep your child from going.
Mike Zhang. Founder of FamilyLifeShare