Excursions get out and see the world | CareforKids.com.au®
get out and see the world
While excursions happen regularly in primary schools, they are less common in early childhood settings, for reasons that are probably pretty obvious! Looking after a group of preschool aged children away from the relatively controlled and manageable space of an early childhood setting is potentially fraught with complications; lost children and injury just to name a couple.

This is not to suggest you should exclude field trips from your program, indeed the contrary. Well organised and executed excursions can add a world of learning opportunities for preschool aged children, and they don't need to be elaborate or expensive. A simple walking bus trip to the local library by way of the playground offers as much scope for learning as a more formal trip to a local museum and can provide a rich source of new experiences for children.

The key to a successful field trip is planning and organising before the big day. Try and link the excursion to something you have been talking about in the program so the children derive maximum benefit. For example, a trip to the local butterfly house if you have been spending time in the garden, or a trip to the local library for story time if you have been talking about books or authors.

Be sure to communicate your plans to the parents and carers in your service well in advance. This is especially important if there is a cost involved or logistical arrangements which the parents may be nervous about.

Have the parents and carers sign a permission slip and ensure you have up-to-date contact information in case of emergency. At this time it’s also important to clarify the situation regarding medications and whether you’ll need to carry them on the trip. You’ll also need to designate a first aider to carry basic supplies and be ready to help if any of the children injure themselves.

While the educator to child ratios are the same for field trips as they are for the usual education and care services offered in early childhood settings, you may like to request parental support for field trips to reduce the chances of mishap.

Be sure to conduct a thorough risk assessment before embarking on a field trip, to assist you with this, ACECQA has designed a template excursion risk management plan that is available for download here.

In addition to talking to the children in the service about the learning opportunities arising from the excursion, it's important to provider them with lots of information about the logistics, how the day will flow and what is expected of them.

For example, if you are walking to your destination you may wish to introduce a buddy system, assign each child a partner and have them practice holding hands and walking in a neat and orderly line.

If at all possible try and plan the field trip around the usual nap/rest time. This should reduce the likelihood of any meltdowns due to exhaustion.

Supervision of children during a field trip is critical and as part of the initial risk assessment. Be sure to designate a series of checkpoints along the way to conduct a head count and ensure everyone is keeping up.

To make it visually easier to keep track of everyone, you may like to ask all the parents to dress their children in red or orange on the day of the excursion. Nametags are also helpful.

Remember to have a bad weather contingency plan if it is too hot or too wet to proceed. If the trip is fairly simple you may like to simply reschedule for another day, but if you have booked a coach and a space at a museum or zoo then you'll need to have a clear idea what you plan to do in the case of extreme weather. Communicating the bad weather plan to parents and carers well in advance of the excursion is very important as it will help manage children's expectations.

Some cheap and easy excursion ideas:
  • Local library for story time or rhyme time
  • Community garden
  • Local park
  • A parent/care giver’s place of work
  • An aged care facility
  • Local supermarket or farmers market
  • The local food court to eat sushi or something similar
  • The fire station
  • A walk around the neighbourhood to look for bugs/birds/green houses/ resources for an art project
  • Local school to watch a concert or show
  • A free museum
  • A festival to celebrate Chinese New Year or something similar
  • A local art gallery
  • A theatre to watch a play or show
  • A national/regional park to talk to the rangers
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