Teachers have a lot on their plates — so it’s important for parents to step in and help out when they can.

Volunteering to chaperone a field trip is just one way that parents can contribute to their child’s education — and there are many ways that parents can make sure they’re providing help rather than hindering the experience. Here are five ways to best serve.

1. Stick to the Plan

If you’re on a tour, driving from point A to point B or even just playing at a park outdoors, it’s important to stick to the plan the teacher has laid out.

“Please don't take your car of students to get a drive-through treat when everyone else is waiting for you at the destination,” says Vanesa Wood, first grade teacher at Central Arkansas Christian’s North Little Rock campus. “Or, if all students don't have money to buy something extra — pay to play a video game at an arcade, pay for an extra ride, pay for a snack — it may not be a good idea for you to buy something for your child.”

By following the plan, you’ll also set a good example for all of the students who are watching your every move.

2. Take Initiative

If you notice a teacher struggling to clean up a mess or even having to repeat him or herself over and over, think about how you can help.

“When parents see a need and meet it, it is always helpful — like offering to take kids on bathroom breaks or hand out hand wipes at a picnic,” said Tracy Sheehy, a third grade teacher at CAC's Pleasant Valley Elementary campus.

If your own child needs something (such as a drink, a bathroom break or somewhere to sit down), it’s great to see if other kids need the same. Focus on the whole class of students and try not to pinpoint only your son or daughter.

3. Listen and Focus

Field trips are intended to be educational experiences for students — meaning they need to listen, observe and stay focused. As a chaperone, it’s your responsibility to do the same.

“The biggest hindrance on field trips can be parent's phones,” Sheehy said. “I have had a few field trips where the parents were not involved with the learning and their child, but they were off to the side on his/her phone or they were talking with other parents.”

4. Come Prepared

A field trip emergency kit is great to have on hand! It doesn’t need to be fancy, and all of the items you would need can easily be packed in your purse or backpack.

Wood’s go-to list of items includes bandages, wipes, a digital thermometer, disposable sick bags, children’s Tylenol and peppermint candy for upset tummies. Sheehy added neosporin and a water bottle to that list.

5. Prepare Your Student

Whether or not you’re able to serve as a field trip chaperone, it’s important to talk to your child about the purpose of field trips and how they should behave on one.

“Parents should remind their children to take full advantage of the learning that can happen on a field trip,” Sheehy said. “It is about having fun but more importantly it is about the experience and learning.”

Wood added that safety is important, and students run into different scenarios on a field trip than they would in the classroom.

“It's helpful for them to talk to their child about staying with the adult in charge at all times, how to safely cross a street, and to discuss respectful behavior, because they are representing our school,” Wood said.

Get the complete list of educational destinations around Arkansas, with options focused on nature, arts, history, science and more in the latest Field Trip Guide.