I'm the first to yell, "Freedom!" as the kids file into school in the morning and I definitely value the time they are at school/out of the house. I am also perfectly capable of 'letting go' and allowing my child to develop at school and I have no concerns about their safety while in the care of the school, whether on the school grounds or outside. Yet I always volunteer to be a 'parent helper' when a class trip is announced.
Let's be clear, I'll admit I'm not a big fan of other people's children. When I had a child it didn't make anyone else's child more endearing to me. I don't rush to hold a new baby and I look awkward when one is thrust towards me as if having my own child should make me maternal towards all children. I love my own child but simply don't understand how other kids work.
So why do I put myself in a situation where I have to be responsible for a small group of children for a whole day on a class outing? I think of it from an anthropological point of view. I like to see how the children interact together and can get to know the characteristics of those my child describes in stories from their school day over dinner each evening. I like to see if my snap judgements about children's behaviour in the playground before school is representative of their behaviour when with their class teacher. I like to see how the teacher controls the class and how must respect the teacher receives from the children.
The trips I've attended have included many museums, zoos and theatre shows. Each has been well-organised by the teachers and the topic has been related to subjects the children are learning about that term in school. Many have had special education sessions arranged which you couldn't access without a school class.
Every trip has been tiring – I have no idea how primary school teachers cope with 30 kids every day – but every trip has been worthwhile. It gives me ideas on places to visit with my child before and after a school trip. We've often returned to a place we visited with the class and have had time to explore the museum or area further as school trips tend to be very focused so you won't see all of a venue. And we've often gone with the school to somewhere we know well so we can tell the others on the way what to expect before arriving.
My child's class has some 'challenging' children in it but I doubt there's a class in the UK that doesn't have its fair share. But every child needs these days out as their parents or carers may not be able to take them to all the wonderful places the school does. And while helping on a school trip means I have to care for some good and some not so good children I always learn something from the day even if it's which kids not to invite round to play.
Do you go on your child's class trips too?
Images: jeltovski, clarita, margey6652 & moare.