Leslie is a sixth grade teacher who’s brought her students to participate in Disney YES programs in Walt Disney World for the past 19 years. Some of the most recent programs she’s attended include Exploring Disney Animation History, Evolution of Technology, Properties of Motion Physics Lab, Everyday Chemistry, and Backstage at La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil.
It doesn’t take an expert to know that a Disney student tour will be fun, but many teachers doubt the academic value of educational travel to Disney. We asked Leslie for her opinions, and here’s what she had to say:
The Disney Youth Education Series (YES) at Walt Disney World and Disneyland provide an unique educational experience. YES programs are a collection of guided field trips within the rich learning environment of Disney Parks. These programs in science, history and humanities are accredited, standards based and designed to reinforce what’s already going on in your classroom.
Each Disney YES program is a half-day experience within the Disney Parks. Some programs go behind-the-scenes; some stay right within the park. Students are split into groups and taught hands-on lessons, and many follow up with a ride on an attraction to further explain and reinforce what was being taught. For example, when we participated in a physics program at Magic Kingdom, students were able to ride Space Mountain with the lights off and then with the lights on. At the conclusion of the program, students and chaperones meet up and head out for an afternoon and evening of fun in the parks.
In addition to highly educational YES programs, students develop an incredible amount of soft skills during Disney student tours. They realize they are participating in something pretty special and step up to the plate with maturity. For many kids, it is their first trip to Walt Disney World, first flight on an airplane, first time being away from their parents, and first time sharing a hotel room with their friends. Students learn how to budget their money from the moment they start fundraising to the time when they decide what they will purchase to eat and take home for a souvenir. They learn time management skills and teamwork with their roommates. It’s really an amazing sight to see.
Some of my best memories over the years have just been enjoying the quirkiness of sixth graders and their fun outlook on life. What other group of people claps on the airplane when the pilot safely lands? Disney YES programs have been amazing for the students, as well as for myself and the chaperones.
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