The Nursery and Reception classes, from my daughter’s school, recently had an excursion to the Lama Temple (雍和宮, Yōng hé gong). I went along as a parent helper, and it brought back fond memories of my own school field trips when I was a young girl. Field trips are one of the things school children look forward to during their school life and the experiences and memories from them are extremely durable. One thing that surprised me before the trip was the number of parents who felt the children were too young to really benefit from an excursion. I am a firm believer that learning outside the confines of the classroom is vital in supporting the development of a healthy and active lifestyle, and a well-planned trip will only enhance children’s learning.
In recent years there has been a cultural shift in society that has reduced the access and use of outdoors for many young children. A number of factors are blamed, including increased fear amongst adults in relation to children’s safety, and technological advances leading to an overwhelming prominence of more sedentary indoor activities, such as television and computer games. However, the developmental needs of young children have remained constant and the outdoor environment continues to be essential to their health, development and well-being.
Field trips give children a welcome break in routine. They really look forward to it, and will confidently prepare and get ready for the trip, no matter how young they are. It gives young children a sense of responsibility, knowing that they need to behave and act sensibly. They enjoy themselves so much they often don’t realize they are learning. Field trips can also influence the relationship between the students and their teachers, and teachers often say their relationship with students improves following a trip.
The Lama Temple excursion enabled the kids to learn about colors, textures, patterns, shapes, smells, and the natural environment. Museums are another great venue for field trips, as they often have displays that children can touch to help them understand the topic that is being covered. Aquariums, nature centers, and botanical gardens show kids animal and plant life up close, and often have areas where kids can touch displays, such as petting zoos and interactive computer programs. Never underestimate the ability for children to absorb what they see, hear, and touch around them.
If you’re given the opportunity, I would fully recommend accompanying your children on a field trip. If they’re very young, they will be so proud that their mummy or daddy is coming along. It was wonderful to see how my daughter interacts with all of her class mates, not just those I know from play dates and Birthday parties. I was proud to see how much she respects her teachers, and I was impressed with how they manage to make her sit still on a coach far better than I can. The trip to the Lama Temple was an enriching learning experience for my daughter, and an equally valuable one for me.
Yōng Hé Gong 雍和宮
RMB 25, free for children under 1.2m
12 Yonghegong Dajie, Beixinqiao, Dongcheng District (6404 4499, firstname.lastname@example.org) www.yonghegong.cn
beijingkids Shunyi Correspondent Sally Wilson moved to Beijing in 2010 from the UK with her husband and son. Her daughter was born here in 2011 and both her kids keep her happily busy. In her spare time, Sally loves to stroll through Beijing’s hutongs and parks. She is a (most of the time) keen runner and loves reading: books, magazines, news, and celeb websites – anything really. Sally is also a bit of a foodie and loves trying out new restaurants.