Years from now, your child won't remember every math problem she mastered, yet she'll remember the class trip to a fish hatchery. While she's choosing the perfect outfit for her field trip, you're worrying about stranger danger and insect bites. Because leaving the safety of the classroom comes with risks, ask her teacher for as much trip information as possible. Arm her with trip-specific advice the night before for her safety and your peace of mind.
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Know How to Get Help
A dawdling child can be separated from his group in seconds. Remind him to stay with the class, but offer location-specific suggestions for how to handle getting lost. For instance, if he's going to the museum, talk about how he can identify an employee by his name tag or ID badge. At the beach, he can approach a lifeguard sitting in a tall lifeguard chair. The National Crime Prevention Council suggests talking to your child about "safe strangers," such as uniformed police officers or firefighters, whom he can approach for help. The NCPC also recommends teaching your child to “No, Go, Yell, Tell" if an unfamiliar adult tries to lead him away from his group or makes him feel uncomfortable: say "No," run away from the person, yell loudly, and tell a teacher or chaperone what happened.
Protect Yourself from the Elements
Traveling to an outdoor site is a thrilling alternative to sitting in a classroom all day, but, before she visits a park or outdoor zoo, talk to your child about sun protection. Give her a brimmed hat and sunglasses to wear. Buy her a bottle of sunscreen -- the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends parents look for types with UVA and UVB protection and at least SPF 15 -- and help her apply it before she leaves in the morning. Instruct her to reapply it thoroughly, including the back of her neck and tops of her feet, after getting wet or every two hours. If she has a cellphone or watch, set a recurring alarm to remind her to reapply. Provide insect repellent, too, and ask her teacher whether a chaperone should keep custody of these items.
Even with alert chaperones, accidents can happen quickly on field trips. Talk to your child about protecting his body during his trip. If he's going to a store or business environment, talk about keeping his hands away from machines, cords and office supplies. Remind him not to climb on rocks, fences or low walls -- even if he sees his friends doing the same. If the students are traveling by bus, talk about being a safe passenger, especially if your child doesn't normally travel to school by bus. SafeKids.org suggests kids stand at least three big steps back from the curb while waiting for the bus, use handrails while getting on and off and never stand behind a parked bus. Instruct him to sit facing forward with a seat belt on and use a quiet voice during the trip.
More Tips to Share
If your child has any allergies or medical conditions, talk to her teacher before the trip about any necessary precautions or medication instructions. Talk to your child, too, reminding her not to eat any food other than what you've packed and to let a chaperone know if something feels wrong. Verify that she can recite her name, teacher and school's name, your name and your phone number. If she's unsure on any of those details, tuck notes with this information into her school bag and pockets. Because unfamiliar places can frighten small children, talk to her about exactly what she'll see and how she can ask a chaperone for help if she feels scared.