The week before the May half-term, our Upper School children always go away on residential trips. Year 5 and 6 are lucky enough to visit France for five days and Year 3 and 4 children attend an outdoor activity centre for two nights. But is it just a holiday? What are the educational benefits to justify this time away from school?
I would strongly argue that it is character education that we are delivering. Every year, we ask the children to come up with a contract of behaviours and character traits that they would like to see in their peers on our trips away. Year 3 and 4 immediately came up with these ideas: be resilient, be kind, be positive, be respectful, be adventurous, be independent, be collaborative, be fearless… the list goes on.
Giving children the opportunity to polish those types of character traits is extremely important, but on top of that, these trips offer so much more. Hidden skills and talents emerge from children who might not normally excel in the classroom. These children have their time to shine and you can see them walking taller as they return to school . This boost of confidence has such an enormous impact on children’s learning that those few days off school are insignificant compared to the future progress in a child’s learning.
I watched a group today running through the forest, finding wood for our campfire tonight, playing imaginary games, and there wasn’t a phone or screen in sight. They were energised, engaged, connected and when they do fall into bed tonight- their exhaustion will be one of fresh air and exercise - not from screen headaches.
Let’s make sure these opportunities continue to be made available for all children in all schools as every child deserves these experiences- it will be the making of them.