Excursions – Expanding the Walls of the Classroom

“I saw lots of bugs and butterflies at the Museum”, “I liked Sue the dinosaur and the skull of the dinosaur, but that was not real”, “I really liked to play rugby at the park outside the Museum”, “There was hot lava coming out of volcano and the whole room was shaking (he was talking about the 3D movie we saw at the Museum about Rangitoto)”, “My Mummy also went with us and we were holding hands”.

The above comments were shared in the past by children after a trip to the Auckland Museum. The trip was part of exploring insects, dinosaurs and volcanoes which was the focus of their interest at the time.

Children, like adults, need a range of visual and sensory experiences to inspire and stimulate their creative potential. Fortunately, the early childhood environment is flexible enough to create opportunities to help expose children to new experiences, excursions being one method. Lucy Mitchell, a pioneer in the field of early childhood education considered field trips to be a vital part of the social studies programme.

Children certainly benefit from going on excursions, as they have the opportunity to experience life beyond the classroom with their teachers, peers or family. Through taking a trip children can observe social systems and the roles people play within them, such as fire and police protection, traffic control, banking, shopping and other relative systems. Excursions also provide children with first hand experiences in which they can develop further in language and literacy, gaining new vocabulary and problem-solving skills.

In addition a field trip can be one way to encourage and promote the involvement of parents or extended family members, through accompanying children on an early childhood centre excursion or as a family spending the weekend visiting different destinations.

In the early childhood setting, an excursion needs to be well planned and many considerations need to be given, from writing the permission form to planning the meals for the day. A carefully planned trip will result in benefits to all and will provide children with a rich method for learning about the world around them.

Children’s learning and development are enhanced through direct interaction with not only the man made world around them, but the natural world too. It reminds us to ensure our visits out and about celebrate the wonder of our world and trips to ‘the great outdoors’ can assist in establishing a life long love and enjoyment of our natural world.

Enriching contact with the natural world encourages the development of a love of nature and children can truly learn to become caretakers and nurturer’s of our earth. Developing values of co-operation and shared responsibility support children to become social and environmental problem solvers.

Trips to locations such as the Zoo, animal parks, Kelly Tarlton’s, or Butterfly Creek, where children can see, touch and feel living animals, insects, birds and sea creatures are a wonderful way to increase children’s knowledge and appreciation of the other creatures we share our environment with.

Excursions are also a fantastic way to empower children to explore confidently and ask questions to make sense of the world they see around them.

Children also become increasingly aware that there are different social rules in different settings. For example in a library or perhaps the Museum the expectation is to speak in a quieter more respectful tone of voice.

While out in the community children are also continually absorbing information about how to keep themselves safe. For example, pushing buttons at the crossing, holding hands, looking both ways and what to do if they get lost.

Excursions are a fantastic medium for children and adults to learn alongside each other and make discoveries together. Children and adults develop a shared understanding through sharing knowledge, listening and talking to each other.

Excursions, whether they be part of the early childhood centre curriculum or a regular part of your families life, are often the experiences you and your child will remember and cherish.

The Penguins Team

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