An interview with Anabela Arauja, owner of Learn-n-play ll in Bath, PA and her lead school age teacher, Kala Kratzer.
Why do you feel taking school age children on field trips is important?
Children get to experience different activities they might not otherwise get to experience. Families sometimes cannot afford to take children to further away places.
How often do you take field trips?
The children visit parks once or twice a week and visit local places such as the library or retirement home once a week and then once a week to the pool. Specialty trips are also planned once a week.
Where do you take them? How do you choose?
When it comes to choosing where to go, Bela surveys the children to see which sites interest them the most. Favorable reviews by the children will lead to a place being visited again but Bela also likes to include new places and experiences. Bela and Kala visit a website called CLASSTRIPS.com. Trip ideas can be sorted by location, number of miles from home you are willing to travel and subject. The website also includes lesson plans and a printable trip directory.
As far as where the children go, Bela allows trips up to an hour and 45 minutes away. The children at her site have been to Elmwood Zoo, Ringing Rocks, Quiet Valley Farm, Liberty Science, Musikfest Inflatables, Butterfly Sanctuary, Legoland, and Hawk Mountain to name a few. Bela says children “love animals and hands-on experiences.”
How do you handle the expense?
Parents are required to pay an activity fee. Although in the past she has taken the fees weekly, Bela suggests a specific date to pay the entire fee by.
Also, by splitting number of children on each day decreases the number of vehicles used at one time.
Some places such as the Lehigh Valley Zoo and Amazing Athletes will come to the center, reducing travel expenses and still gives the children experiences.
What kind of follow-up activities do you complete with the children afterwards?
Kala includes journal writing about the places the children visit. This helps the teachers plan which sites should be re visited and which might not have been as successful.
What are your plans for next year?
Planning for next summer’s program has already begun. Bela creates a weekly schedule listing the trips. At the beginning of the year (2018) Bela and Kala will make reservations for the summer events.
What advice can you offer to other school-age programs who want to take the children on trips?
Bela feels the biggest challenge was taking the older and younger school-age children on trips together. She highly recommends separating older and younger school-age children for trips. Kala adds that older children can do more things than the younger children and gives them additional experiences.