Today, Philip’s preschool class went on a field trip to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. This trip was the culmination of several weeks study of dinosaurs. You may recall that I visited Philip’s class on the first day of the unit, so I had a chance to see some of the activities that Mrs. P was using to prepare the students for the museum.
For three weeks, the class pretended to be paleontologists studying fossils. They “dug” fossils out of sand in the messy table. They used magnifying glasses to look at rocks with the impressions of long-dead plants and animals. Yesterday, Philip came home with a fossil that he made out of plaster.
In the art center, Philip and his classmates have painted dinosaurs using a stencil and used rubber stamps to print dinosaurs on paper.
When they are doing basket activities in the morning, each basket has had something dinosaur related. Here is a picture, courtesy of the class newsletter, of Philip sorting dinosaurs by color.
Mrs. P has read the class books about dinosaurs. The children have listened and moved to songs about dinosaurs.
So, as you can see, the foundations had been set for a successful field trip.
Philip didn’t go.
When we were first notified of the field trip back in November, I dutifully marked my calendar. I planned on taking the day off from work. Parent transportation was required, and I knew that Peter would not want to try to drive Philip the 70 miles to Cleveland by himself. Not only that, Peter is not a volunteer-as-a-chaperone-on-a-preschool-or-any-grade-level-field-trip kind of guy. Even if we had not been required to drive our own children, I was never crazy enough to think it would be good for Philip to go on a field trip by himself. I just don’t think it would be fair to the teachers to have to hold his hand every minute of the trip. So, I had every intention of going on this trip.
Then, a few things happened to change this. For starters, I’ve only been at my job for less than a year, so I have limited sick/vacation/personal time. Appointments at the school and appointments for the autism screening have eaten away the hours of time that I have for this fiscal year. Next week I’m leaving work early to attend a workshop on behavioral strategies for autism. With parent-teacher conferences coming up in March, I have to ration out my time away from work. And heaven forbid someone actually become sick.
Even if I had all the time off from work in the world, Peter and I questioned the wisdom of disrupting Philip’s routine by going on the trip. Granted, we had to change his schedule when we took him to his screenings, but that resulted in a diagnosis.
That brings me to the final reason why we decided not to take Philip on this field trip. What would Philip get out of the trip? The class was scheduled to attend a special presentation. Would Philip have paid attention? Would he have liked it? Would he have liked the rest of the museum? Would the exhibits be touchable? Would they engage him?
Peter and I couldn’t answer these questions. Combined with the other issues, we returned the field trip slip saying that Philip would not attend.
Did we deprive Philip?