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Making Field Trips Possible Despite Budget Cuts


Education budgets are being cut nationwide, forcing schools across the country to eliminate valuable programs such as field trips. According to a recent report by the American Association of School Administrators, 11 percent of schools nationwide reported eliminating field trips in 2008-2009. This number grew to 24 percent in 2009-2010 and topped a staggering 51 percent for the 2010-2011 school year.


Many experts agree that field trips can be an integral part of a child's education, giving students real-life experience to supplement abstract classroom lessons-and parents and caregivers play an important role in creating great field trip experiences.


"Parents are vital to the success of their children's education," says Charles J. "Chuck" Saylors, National Parent-Teacher Association President. "Partnering with their child's teacher to chaperone, helping raise funds or creating trip opportunities through their personal connections in order to provide memorable learning experiences outside the classroom are just a few ways parents can have a tremendous impact."


Despite schools' limited resources, parents can suggest low-budget, high-impact field trip options that can engage students and add memorable experiences to their curriculum. Here are a few ideas:


* Colleges or Universities: Many local colleges and universities offer a rich array of field trip opportunities through performances, classroom visits and general college tours-often at a minimal cost. Not only do students get a unique learning experience, they're also exposed to what college has to offer. These visits can be especially beneficial for students who might not have previously considered attending college.


* Local Historical Societies and Sites: State and local historical societies allow students to experience history through hands-on, interactive activities. Whether it's seeing how their ancestors lived or discovering local connections to national events, these field trips take history out of the textbook and make it real. You can find information on your local historical society at http://www.aaslh.org.


* Museums: Bring art, science, pop culture or history to life with a trip to a local museum. Guided tours and special student programs help kids engage with the past and imagine the future. Find one near you at www.museumsusa.org.


* Local Businesses: Many local business owners are glad to give students a peek at what goes on behind the scenes. Local businesses can provide a unique learning experience for students with tours and hands-on experiences at a low cost. Whether it's watching how a product is made or seeing how a play gets produced, students will enjoy getting a behind the scenes look into local businesses.


Another way parents can get involved is by sharing information about the Target Field Trip Grants Program with their child's teacher or principal. The retailer launched the program in 2007 as part of its commitment to education. It is designed to promote learning opportunities outside of the classroom for students and educators across the country.


Applying for a Grant
This year, each Target store will award three Field Trip Grants valued at up to $700 to local education professionals throughout the U.S., enabling one out of every 25 schools in America to send a classroom on a field trip. The applications for this year's program will be available August 1 through September 30, 2010, and can be accessed online at Target.com/fieldtrips.



 




Categories: School-Age, Tweens, Children, Feature Stories,

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