Each year our Centre explores different parks / national reserves or iconic places for Canberra to build on children's sense of belonging and responsibility for our land.
This year we celebrated the National Day of Forest at National Arboretum!
Children enjoyed two guided tours and lunch at the Pod Playground. Although the weather was quite unpredictable, we all had a fantastic time.
We love excursions and taking all the children with us, but it took us good five years to build that confidence. Every year we decided to take the children for a big, day-long excursion; we learned something new and valuable. This is why we wish to share our knowledge with the rest of the keen services.
Things to remember:
Transport - we collaborate only with one company we feel very comfortable with. Their drivers are respectful and fun and drive safely. We like to have seatbelts on the bus. Finding the right bus/transport company is essential as it removes the stress factor for the staff on the excursion.
Staffing - our Service works above the ratio, but regardless of that, we always take additional educators or leadership/management people and parent volunteers. Our director usually comes with us, as she drives the Centre's emergency car and can deliver food, drinks, mats or any other important things, so the educators don't have to worry about it while on the bus. Educators are very on board and understand processes well. We all work like a well-oiled machine; everyone does their assigned role.
Safety & permission - of course, you must meet all the regulatory requirements, permission forms and risk assessments, which we prepare at least a few weeks ahead. Our risk assessment includes a leadership field trip to assess the space.
Organisation - is the key! We usually start with an early morning food preparation, pack two of our fabulous beach trolleys and load bulky things into the car. The educators offer children early morning tea, which is usually consistent with cereal as it's more filling than fruits, and then there is toileting and safety talk. During safety talk, children are assigned to colour-coded groups with wristbands and receive high-visibility vests. It may take you some time to practise. Our children go out at least once per week, so they are used to the procedure. The excursion backpacks are always ready to go, so we grab those and check them the day before. Any children with medication or allergies have their individual colour-coded pouches, which we pack into an extra backpack.
Buddy approach - the children are assigned to an educator by colour and paired with a friend. This also shifts a bit of responsibility towards children, so they keep each other aware of their buddy and can alert the educator if they cannot find their partner.
Communication - we have a brief talk before the excursion, but when we arrive, we keep talking about things that are about to happen. Each educator has their mobile on them, and they are contactable in case the group splits.
Trust me; excursions are exhausting but a lot of fun too. It also breaks the monotonous routine cycle for children and educators.
Stay tuned for more tips in the future & don't hesitate to reach out!