Are community learning trips
In my role, I have the pleasure of working with many different groups of people. In addition to the time I spend with students, teachers, and current families, I also have the privilege of sharing my passion for our community with prospective families.
Throughout this year’s admissions season, I have spent time sharing our community’s deep commitment to progressive education and how it lives out in our curricular and programmatic decisions. This conversation naturally highlights the ways in which field trips play an integral role in the lives of our students.
In The Little Red School House, Agnes de Lima writes the following passage in her chapter titled, Our Classrooms Have No Walls,“Young children are avid for knowledge long before they are capable of developing great skill in the usual tools of learning. The young child, indeed, is an animated question mark… From our earliest days, trips have been an essential part of our school program… the curriculum is built around the children's explorations of their world.”
Field trips are the cornerstone of the experience we build for our students. They are not an addition to the learning that takes place in the classroom, but rather, they are the foundation for the educative experiences themselves. Children learn about the world through connecting with the world. As children are asking questions and attempting to make sense of the information they are taking in, the teachers are planning the trips that will position students to find the answers to those questions, training them to be learners who understand the power of questioning, observing, hypothesizing, and building connections.
As our four-year-olds are questioning the similarities and differences between their families and the families of their peers, the teachers are setting the foundation for the home visits, providing each student an opportunity to lead a small group of peers to their home, engaging in the world as social scientists. As our first graders are learning about safety in the community, the teachers are developing short trips into the community making a space for students to interface directly with those in the community whose job it is to keep its members safe (police officers, firefighters, food inspectors, etc.). In building a relationship with these important people in our community, our students also begin to see themselves as safety agents, leading to the most recent project the first grade has undertaken regarding their concern about the dangers of the traffic lights on the corner of our school which has led to a signature collection campaign to make the corner safer.
Just as our younger students benefit from being in clear connection with their present, so do our older students in our division who are studying the past. As de Lima writes, “Trips are equally rewarding for older children, who not only are interested in their immediate world but also want to find out about things distant both in space and in time.” Next week, the fourth graders will be visiting Ellis Island as part of their immigration study. Unlike the experiences of many other students visiting the location, our students will be part of a simulation, imagining what it might have felt like to be processed at Ellis Island during that period. The children will dress in time period clothing as they engage in the various tests and interviews that immigrants through Ellis Island during that time experienced. The teachers understand that engaging the mind and the body through this learning experience will help to deepen the connections that the students will make, and spark even deeper questions that the teachers will make space to pursue.
These examples serve to illustrate the pivotal role that field trips play in the learning experiences LREI’s expert faculty create for your children. These are immersive experiential moments for the children, allowing them to engage deeply and completely with the content, and further deepen the connections they are making in the world. The goal has always been to shorten the distance between students and their world, and field trips ensure that this happens throughout their time at LREI. Many of our trips are impossible to execute without the help of the parent chaperones who accompany classes on the many trips they take. I know how much time and energy is required when you volunteer to accompany the class trips. Your support of our mission in this matter is so deeply appreciated. Thank you.
Elena Jaime, LS Principal