Ten Ways to Gain Parent Support for a School Trip
No school trip has ever taken off without the support of parents. Thinking ahead about their concerns will help you, as the trip leader, answer their questions and provide the reassurance families need to support the trip you’re planning for their children.
Here are ten things a trip leader can do to reassure families about the many benefits of a school trip.
As the trusted adult who is leading the tour, it helps to walk parents through the many
ways you are looking out for the welfare of the kids who will be in your care.
Parents will still worry, that’s an emotion that won’t go away, but they will have the information they need to think rationally and to help prepare their kids to travel confidently.
Use a reliable, safety-conscious student travel company and explain the company’s credentials to families. A company representative also should be able to attend your parent night to help assist with questions and parent concerns. They should also have a webpage dedicated to health and safety while on tour.
- Share behavior expectations with students and families. Require a signed behavior contract that addresses dos and don’ts for all students and adults traveling.
- Explain the learning outcomes and strategies that will be used during the trip. Students are less likely to engage in off-task and possibly risky behaviors if they are involved in well-planned activities.
- Send travel details when they are available, including flights, hotels, and a rough itinerary. Giving parents the details will help them feel more connected to the experience.
- Introduce chaperones and discuss the student-to-chaperone ratio.
- Explain the process for providing background checks for chaperones, tour guides, and drivers. If you’re not sure about the last two, ask your student travel planner.
- Talk about hotel guidelines and security, including separate floors for boys and girls, no adjoining rooms, no outside access from rooms, and the roles of security guards on the floor during the night.
- Require an emergency medical care release and explain the process for providing care if there should be a medical emergency.
- Coordinate health conditions and medication approval forms with the school nurse. Explain to parents the process of administering any medications while on tour. Usually, the chaperone will carry and administer medications that have been sent from home. Do not allow students to carry any medication during the trip.
Provide a 24-hour phone number for emergency contact.
There was a great story in the Toronto Star about preparing children for their first overnight school trip. The most important tip for parents: Keep your own nerves in check.
“When it ends, more often than not, the benefits of an overnight trip will overshadow the pre-jitters,” writes Vinay Menon, a columnist for the Toronto Star in her article How to Calm Nerves About Overnight Trips.
One of my favorite pieces of advice from the article is to set expectations for how students should communicate with families so parents don’t worry if they don’t hear from their child. The article suggests establishing pre-set talk or text times before breakfast and following dinner, or whatever times work for your tour.
This sets the expectation for appropriate communication and it eliminates micro communication. Kids will have ups and downs each day and parents don’t need a play-by-play.
Let parents know that you will be there to help when needed and that part of the experience is for them to learn independence and resiliency.
If you’re just getting started and you would like tips about how to gain support for your school trip, download this free eBook.
Originally published October 2015, updated November 2020.