Experiential Learning

Realms extends its academic program into the community with a wide variety of field trips for students in all grades. Often under appreciated, field trips play a crucial role in educating students.  Field trips provide students with exposure to new locations and knowledge they might not otherwise access.

In fact, student health, emotions, surroundings, and actions while learning all figure prominently into how well they recall information.  As we know, recall is critical, particularly when faced with a standardized test.

Our brains are wired to recall information based on experience, action, and emotional connections. Myriads of research have reached and continues to reach the same conclusion. A former neurologist turned middle school teacher, Judy Willis discusses exactly how recall and experience are linked in What You Should Know About Your Brain. Learning through action produces better and deeper connections, and it can also be more efficient. Lacking context, a young person may have to be taught the same concept over and over again before the information will stick.

So, rather than extra niceties, field trips are really laboratories for learning. And they need to be treated as such.

As reflected in our philosophy and mission statement, we are committed to providing experiences that support the cognitive, physical, emotional and spiritual growth of our students. When we empower these four functions of the brain through integrated learning, the hidden strengths of a student begin to emerge.

The Realms Outdoor Program provides a powerful opportunity for students to experience integrated education. The variety of destinations available to us (literally the whole world) insures endless opportunities for growth. On any outdoor adventure, whether it be a one-day field trip or a month-long excursion, students can engage in activities that bring real meaning to their study of nature, art, science, literature, music, history, and culture. They also mature socially and emotionally, develop a sense of self, and learn valuable leadership skills. These integrated and enriching activities round out the opportunities for growth each student has. As a result, talents otherwise hidden become strengths that add richness and direction to their lives.

With this in mind, Realms outdoor experiences generally incorporate several different components. A backpacking trip, for example, challenges the student’s physical strength and endurance; teaches the importance of being positive with oneself and others; requires an “I won’t give up” attitude; reveals to the students their own deep sources of inner strength; develops cooperation and leadership in those who are able to think beyond themselves; teaches outdoor skills that build confidence and competence; encourages responsibility as the students learn to take care of themselves, their equipment, and their food; and creates a wonderful opportunity to extend their classroom work into the world.

Whether experienced in sixth grade or twelfth grade, our Outdoor Program is a unique application of gifted and whole-brained learning. The powerful effect it has on students lasts a lifetime.

For 45 years, Realms’ well-known International Program has exposed students to parts of the world many people never see. While other schools might offer travel opportunities, Realms believes in involving them directly in the details of these trips. Kids collaborate on planning every step of the way, from the destination choices to research into cost, travel methods, and accommodations. Their interests and input are even more crucial when it comes to choosing service and academic projects.

While we are always looking for service opportunities in our own community, our students travel abroad every year to immerse themselves in a foreign culture, and to be of service to those in need. Recent international trips have taken our students to Belize, Ecuador, Costa Rica, India, Nepal, Chile, Peru, and Vietnam to name a few. Past international service has included digging ditches for village water supplies, building community kitchens and other facilities, teaching English, volunteering at orphanages, and other humanitarian projects.

International travel also offers our students the unique opportunity to extend their learning plans or create self-contained academic projects based on their destination. For example, on the recent trip to Belize, one student studied parasites indigenous to the area.

Alumni often tell us International Trips were the highlight of their Realms experience. It’s often hard work, but the personal growth that comes from challenging one’s ideas about the world

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