Do you dread the letter that your child brings home from school announcing the next school trip or field day? For some parents even an extra £20 for a coach trip and lunch can stretch the budget to its maximum, never mind the overseas trips that seem to get more and more exotic every year.
When overseas travel was rarer, before the advent of package holidays, there was a maxim that ‘travel broadens the mind’. It’s true that seeing how other cultures live is educational and it’s a wonderful opportunity to learn first-hand. However, most children have travelled to more places than their parents and certainly than their grandparents did at the same age.
It’s hard to say ‘no’ when all their friends seem to be going and can cause family friction if you can’t or don’t want to afford it.
If it’s just an adventure – like a skiing trip – it can hardly be justified as ‘educational’, but your child is unlikely to see it from your perspective. It’s tougher if it’s related to their study, so a visit to a place that features in their history lessons or to meet a professional chef to learn about how a kitchen operates for those studying food and nutrition.
Some school trips – even for state school pupils – go further afield, some have been to New Zealand, Korea, Africa and other far flung places. The cost of these can run to several thousand pounds – often more than the cost of the family’s annual holiday.
Get informed and take positive action:
- Talk to the school, perhaps during a parent-teacher event, about future plans for field trips to find out how important the trip is in relation to your child’s study.
- If you are active in the parent-teacher association it’s a good place to discuss the issue of affordability for all families.
- Find out what the alternatives are for children who are not able to go on a field trip or overseas visit.
- If it comes down to a choice of a family holiday OR letting one child go on an expensive school trip, could the family holiday provide the opportunity for similar learning?
- It may be possible for children to fund or contribute to their own trip by earning money in some way, whether it’s car-washing, lawn-mowing, clearing leaves, weeding or other work as a fundraising activity, similar to charity fundraising treks.
Try to help your child to understand that, if the answer is ‘no’, it’s not because you don’t want them to enjoy the opportunity, it’s simply a matter of balancing the family budget. Let them know you appreciate their understanding.