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Parental Communication on Trips

Part of the magic of student travel is being able to watch students blossom on their own in a new place—exploring, discovering, and learning independently. But you may be wondering exactly how much parental communication is necessary on a student trip. We asked educators to share their thoughts on how much is just enough.

Whether it’s teachers simply giving parents their cell numbers in case they need it, to letting students communicate with their families freely using their own devices, options abound.

“Our school messenger system allows me to send emails, text messages, and make auto phone calls to all parents,” said Nate Blackmer, an educator at Lake Bluff Middle School. “We also utilize Instagram and Twitter as a fun way to keep parents informed about our activities while on the trip.”

Blackmer added that students are allowed to carry their personal cell phones to communicate with parents at approved times, which for many educators, is at night once they’re done with their activities for the day.

There are a variety of apps educators say are useful for sending parents necessary info and for allowing students to share photos from their trip privately with their families—many of which only allow for one-way communication (unlike texting), in order to keep students focused on their trip.

“I make it very clear beforehand that students will contact their parents when appropriate, not the other way around,” said Jennifer Rice, an educator at Grissom Middle School. “There are times we don’t allow students to use their phones, because if a parent texts them, students feel the need to respond immediately, which could get them in trouble.”

Trip leaders don’t have a problem taking a student’s phone from them temporarily, Rice says, and if it becomes a repeated issue, chaperones take the phone and return it to the student when they get to the school at the end of the trip.

“Since we drive all night to get home, we tell the parents not to contact their children. We have the students call their parents 30 minutes before we arrive,” said Rice.

Being fully aware of any medications, allergies or medical conditions before the trip is essential. In the unlikely case of an emergency, it’s important that parents have the cell phone numbers of all adults on the trip and vice versa—ensuring students are able to communicate freely with their families should they absolutely need to.

Written by Hemisphere Educational Travel