It's no surprise that teachers and children's group leaders look to parents for additional chaperones for group outings. Children naturally need more supervision when they are out and about, and many organizations require a lower child to adult ratio when special events are planned. Here's how to be the perfect chaperone on your child's next field trip.
Volunteer early. It's a load off of group leaders' minds if they know they can count on your help. Be specific when you offer to help, too. Tell the organizer that you're planning to come to this specific field trip. It's hard to know (and to remember) which parents are serious when they say, "Just give me a call. I'll help anytime." Volunteer specifically for each outing.
Talk to the group leaders before the trip. Find out what's expected of you as a chaperone. How many children will be in your group? Do you need to drive? What are the group's routines and rules for outings? Do you need to bring anything special, like a sack lunch or a drink? What time do you need to join the group and how long will the trip last?
Arrive early. If you come before the appointed time, you can get maps and directions more conveniently. You can meet the children in your group and learn a few names. You may be able to help group leaders with crowd control and other pre-trip tasks.
Learn and follow the group's standard rules. Do you all need to stay together? Do children need to have partners or buddies? Is it all right to purchase treats or snacks for the children in your group? How are discipline issues to be handled? Following the group's standards and rules will make the trip run more smoothly for everyone.
Follow up your chaperoning stint with an informal evaluation. Most group leaders appreciate kind words and compliments about the outing's fun aspects and its total impact on the children. They also appreciate constructive, sensitive criticism if you saw aspects of the organization or implementation that could be improved for next time. Feedback, if it's offered in sensitive ways, can be invaluable.
So enjoy those outings with your children's groups. Go on the class field trips and the Scout expeditions. Make yourself available to be supportive and you will create a host of happy memories for yourself and for the children in your care.
Sandy is an educator and Scout leader who has taken scores of field trips with the help of wonderful parent chaperones, and she appreciates each and every one of them!