Class trips can be exciting experiences for students from which they can learn through engaging activities and social bonding with peers. From trips to Washington, D.C., to visits to the Israel to class retreats to daylong staycations, many middle schoolers are offered opportunities to immerse themselves in history, faith and community.
Education professionals Kim Favor, head of middle school at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School in Beachwood, and Paul Lurie, communications manager at Gross Schechter Day School in Pepper Pike, outlined the educational and social benefits of class trips.
“Class trips help extend the learning beyond the classroom walls,” Favor said. “It’s one thing to learn about something from your teacher or do research on it, but actually being able to see it in person really enhances the learning.”
She pointed out the community building that happens on class trips between students and teachers, as well as students themselves.
“Oftentimes, we see new friendships that are forged during that time,” Favor said.
She said Mandel Jewish Day School begins each school year with a middle school retreat. The goal of the retreat is to create community within the school, welcome new students and teachers and allow students to see their peers and instructors in a different light.
Favor acknowledged that the first day of school often comes with anxiety and the retreat brings some relief.
“Once we go on this retreat, which typically happens the second day of school, everybody walks into the building and it’s like their shoulders have dropped,” she stated.
Seventh graders go to Washington for four days and eighth graders have the opportunity to go to Israel for 2½ weeks, Favor said.
These trips expose students to other students who they may not normally interact with in school, she said.
“Students in a typical classroom setting tend to navigate toward the same set of students,” Favor said. “They kind of establish who their friends are and those are the people that they spend more time with. It’s almost like these invisible barriers are broken and they become more open to forging new relationships with new students.”
Class trips also take the academic pressure off, Favor said, which helps students feel more at ease and open to learning and socializing.
“You take students out of the academic environment, some students school isn’t their favorite thing, but you put them into a different environment like a camp or a trip and you see all of these new possibilities that students have,” she said.
Lurie said class trips take learning to new heights.
“Learning from a book while in the classroom is where the student journey begins, but when a class can see what they are learning about in person and get a hands-on experience, it truly takes education to another level,” he said.
Cleveland and Columbus have “tremendous” opportunities for pushing learning beyond the walls of the classroom, he said, referring to the number of museums and the state capitol.
Students at Gross Schechter also have the opportunity to visit Washington D.C. in seventh grade and Israel in eighth grade, Lurie said.
Socially, these trips create new bonds among students, he said.
“There is something about sharing an experience with your classmates,” Lurie said. “Traveling together can help to cultivate curiosity and knowledge about communities outside of their own.”
These trips may also expose children to traveling and spark in them a desire to travel more and discover new cultures, he said.
“It’s not just the destinations, museums and attractions that make the class trips special,” Lurie said. “The time on the bus, at the hotel or during meals can solidify the bond between classmates and create lifelong friendships.”