Most of us have fond memories of the trips we took and the activities we participated in when we were in school. But when it comes time for our children to do these things, we may balk. It’s not that we don’t want them to have fun and educational experiences in school, it’s that they’re just so expensive.
Today’s school trips are often much different from those we went on during our school days. They often involve traveling out of state and staying one or more nights, even for elementary and junior high students. Even day trips have become more expensive, requiring parents to pay bus and admission fees. This is generally a result of reduced education budgets.
Handling requests to go on field trips and participate in activities can be difficult. Here are some ways you can work these things into your budget.
Pick and choose. If your child’s class goes on multiple trips during the year, you may not be able to afford them all. Consider saying “no” to some of them. Talk to your child about which ones he wants to attend the most, and look at the educational value they provide. Then make a decision and stick with it.
Be honest with your child. She may feel that it’s not fair that she doesn’t get to go on a trip that “everyone else” gets to go on. Explain that you would pay for the trip if you could, but it’s just not an option.
Talk to your child about raising the money on his own. Older kids could get a part-time job to earn the needed funds. Younger kids might do a fundraiser such as a car wash or bake sale to get the money they need. If your child gets an allowance, perhaps he could pay the fees out of that.
For big, expensive trips, find out if you can make payments. Coordinators often let parents know about such trips well in advance, and they may even set up a payment schedule for everyone. If you don’t feel that you can pay on that schedule, meet with the coordinator and ask if you can set up an alternate one.
Consider asking relatives for help. Perhaps each grandparent, aunt or uncle could contribute a small amount to help fund the trip. If you can get several people to give a small amount, it won’t put a burden on anyone.
Field trips and other activities usually have educational value, and they foster a love for learning. But if you can’t make room in the budget for them, there’s no need to feel guilty. If you explain why you can’t afford to pay your child’s way, there’s a good chance that she will understand. She might even take it upon herself to raise the money, and that in itself will be a valuable learning experience.