Limiting Preschool Liabilities During Educational Outings
Field Trips Are More than Just Entertainment
Preschool field trips are a mix of personal empowerment for children and the wonderment of seeing classroom lessons learned come to life. An experience as simple as seeing, touching and pressing the buttons on a traffic light, observing the light changes and following the rules of the road when crossing the street is invaluable to reinforce the theoretical learning from class.
Take for example the impact on a charitable organization that even young preschoolers can make. While there are countless advantages to the planned excursion, an extensive list of safety tips for a field trip must be followed to ensure that everyone remains secure during the trip. This also ensures that liability issues for the preschool are effectively lessened.
While a professional transportation company is almost always the best method of taking the children to their destination, shrinking budgets may call for the use of parent vehicles. Preschool teachers need to make sure to plan ahead and verify the actual available space in the vehicles and also remind parents, who are not participating in transporting any children, to leave the youngsters’ car seats behind.
Meals and Snacks
Due to the concern of food allergies, many elementary schools have adopted a brown bag lunch policy on field trips. Parents are responsible for packing lunches for their children in disposable bags. The idea is to have a nutritious meal and snacks available for the children without having the responsibility of tracking lunch boxes. This is also a workable solution for preschool field trips. Safety tips should also include a warning against children switching or sharing their lunches.
Preschoolers suffering from medical conditions that may require treatment on the trip should ideally be accompanied by a parent or caregiver. If this is not possible, the preschool teacher must ensure that she is able to fulfill the treatment requirements. Additionally, each child’s parent should fill out a generic “consent for treatment” form that authorizes the preschool teacher to call for medical assistance and give permission to treat.
Adult to Child Ratio
The level of supervision is generally mandated by state law. As a general rule, the minimum requirement should be one adult for every five preschoolers.
It might appear odd to check off children’s names on a paper each time a bus or van is boarded and disembarked. Nevertheless, Carolyn Tomlin from Early Childhood News provides ample cautionary tales of early childhood educators and care providers, who ran afoul the law – sometimes with tragic results – while transporting young children. Checking off each child’s name at each stage of the trip limits the possibility of “forgotten” or lost children.
Lessen Liability Impact on Preschools
Accidents can and will happen; this is a liability preschools understand before permitting the planning of field trips. Legal responsibilities can be greatly reduced by preventing avoidable mistakes or accidents. Additionally, since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guarantees disabled preschoolers the same access to field trips and transportation as their peers, safety tips become even more important.
- Early Childhood News. "Transportation Issues: What Are Your Responsibilities?" at http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_view.aspx?ArticleID=679 (accessed May 30, 2011)