Love learning outside of the classroom? Parental leave is the perfect opportunity for you to share your passion for your subject with your children by exploring those ideal ‘school trip’ destinations. As well as great CPD for you, these trips are stimulating and exciting for your baby – a winning teaching and parenting combination.
You can go wherever you want on these school trips, but here are some ideas if you’re struggling for inspiration, we’ve compiled a list of options tried, tested and recommended by The MTPT Project community. Do let us know which adventures have worked out for you and baby!
Museums and Cultural Sites
Many of your local museums and galleries will be an oxymoron of hotbed calm whilst you are on parental leave. During the week, you will avoid the holiday and weekend crowds but still benefit from a whole range of activities and exhibitions on offer. Some of these workshops are aimed specifically at adults, but be 10% braver and request to bring your baby, or just enjoy browsing the sites at your leisure.
Even better, many museums, like the British Museum, and the Yorkshire Museum offer tailor-made sessions for parents and children to explore their exhibitions. Some are designed specifically for younger babies, but others aimed at toddlers and pre-schoolers are great if you are enjoying some time with your older children whilst on your second or third parental leave.
Visits to these sites with your baby are also the perfect opportunity to find out about school learning and teacher CPD provision that could come in handy for extra curricular trips and INSET days when you are back at work.
All of our links in the surrounding images are from London, Liverpool and York, but most local museums are fantastic at offering these early learning opportunities that are just as informative for adults as they are for babies. Why not explore your local sites of cultural interest and then share your thoughts with us via Twitter or our contact page.
Follow Your Baby
You probably have one of those apps that tells you how your baby is developing week by week – mine was the Wonder Weeks and Baby Centre app, and I used them to motivate me to take regular trips, based on the new things happening in my son’s development.
The app said: sensations
We visited: Kew Gardens, Cambridge college gardens, the Sedgwick College of Earth Sciences (take a sling – there are steps!), St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square (buskers), the V&A Museum, the fountains at Granary Square
Key CPD Takeaways: an Activities Week suggestion for the Science Department; a plan for a non-fiction SOW about dinosaurs and fossil hunters.
What was particularly lovely about this was that, as an English teacher, I was exposed to so many different subjects that I otherwise knew very little about. The opportunity for cross-curricular reflections, and to think about topics that might interest my students and ways in which to use this to engage them with reading and writing fiction and non-fiction texts was great. What’s more Tweeting about these visits connected me with teachers of other subjects, helping me get into a ‘whole school CPD’ mindset, which will benefit my Lead Practitioner role when I return to work.
The app said: patterns
We visited: the Tate Britain, the Tate Modern, the Whitechapel Gallery
Key CPD Takeaways: a unit of work combining performing arts and Shakespeare; some nap time reading of post-apocolyptic and dystopian classic fiction.
This was a real wellbeing opportunity for me: as a mother and a teacher, I find it difficult to sit still and to turn my brain off and combined with the sleep deprivation that comes hand in hand with a small baby, I find those zombied days at home can make me quite low. The chance to be out and about doing tasks that involve lots of sitting, looking and quiet reflection – especially on rainy days that can otherwise be quite morose, really helped me to make some days of my maternity leave satisfying, fulfilling and good for my soul, without being completely exhausting.
The app said: read to your baby
We visited: Rug Rhymes at the Southbank Centre; the National Poetry Library; ‘We Are All Human’ poetry and art exhibition; French bookshops
Key CPD Takeaways: a G&T poetry trip; a collection of accesible and engaging poems; an understanding of Early Years literacy; a deeper understanding of early language learning pertinent to EAL teaching.
This was anothe great wellbeing opportunity for me: the Southbank Centre in particular is a great space for relaxing with a small child and it is full of baby-friendly adult opportunities that really helped me to feel myself again. I particularly enjoyed thinking about the links between early reading and understanding of more complicated texts at KS3 and KS4 level, especially for our weaker readers – just check out this beautiful baby book interpretation of Shakespeare’s imagery: ‘What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun’! I’m sure the link between these early years stories and teaching and learning ideas is even closer for EYFS and Primary practitioners.
Subject Knowledge Enrichment
I love books. That’s why I became an English teacher. If you’re a Geography teacher, you probably love rocks and urban regeneration – so why not go and visit the Giant’s Causeway or Granary Square? History or Art teacher? Take your pick of museums and galleries! Science teacher – I know a great seed bank in Wakehurst that you might be interested in.
I’ve only just started to think more strategically about how I can use school trips with my baby to prepare me for the units I’m going to be teaching when I return to school, but here’s what I’ve managed to do so far, and what I intend to do before I go back.
I was inspired by: my FutureLearn course, ‘Literature of the Country House’, which used a variety of stately homes and castles to explore literature from the 15th – 20th century.
I visited: the Peak District, Chatsworth House, Haddon Hall, Massachusetts, the Crane Estate
Key CPD Takeaways: a reinvigorated passion for gothic literature and its landscapes and settings; a concrete understanding of the backdrop of novels like Pride and Prejudice, The Great Gatsby, Wuthering Heights, The Mysteries of Udulpho and The Canterville Ghost – a great KS3 text! I saw an alfalfa farm – any English teacher will understand why this was a lightbulb moment.
I was inspired by: an overwhelming sensation that nobody knows anything about Victorian literature or the Victorian era or Charles Dickens, and yet the new GCSE English Literature curriculum demands that we are all experts on all three of the above – panic!
I visited: the Charles Dickens Museum, the Foundling Museum, the Museum of London, the Old Operating Theatre
Key CPD Takeaways: I was really keen to learn more about 19th century historical and social context as well as the gothic as a literary genre, because this was really a bit of a pre-maternity leave void for me.
These 19th century literature visits in particular have give me knowledge that has been invaluable to my KS4 teaching now that I am back at school – most teachers just simply don’t have time to become experts in one particular field in such a short space of time because they are too busy marking and planning and teaching! Now that I’m also exam marking, I’m very much looking forward to hearing my Literature results because I know my students were writing purpose and context-informed essays in a way that other students across the country are not.
I also developed a series of booklets to accompany my visits, which asked specific questions linking the sites to the texts that we study at GCSE. I was delighted that some of my Year 11 students took themselves on their own school trips during the February half term, and I have also been able to suggest some purposeful Activities Week and Most Able trips to our Enrichment Co-ordinator.