Alas, that time is near. The days are getting shorter, and the mornings a little cooler. Summer vacations are coming to a close, and schools are getting floors swept and buses washed in preparation for the big day: the first day of school.
Just because the kids are heading back to school, however, doesn’t mean the safety-conscious home environment no longer applies. There are several safety and security tips your kids should be aware of, whether they’re starting the first day of kindergarten or the last year of high school.
Below we offer 8 commonsense tips for keeping your kids safe and secure while getting to and from school during the upcoming year. Go over these tips with your kids before the year starts, and as gentle reminders as the year rolls along. By the end of the year, you’ll have instilled some great safety habits in your kids, habits that will last a lifetime!
Tip 1: Careful crossing the street
Whether kids walk to school, ride the bus, or are part of a carpool, there’s a chance they’re crossing the street. Kids can be careless, either because they’re young enough to impulsively dart out into the road without knowing any better, or because they’re old enough to have their eyeballs glued to their iPhones, which is just as dangerous when you’re around traffic. Remind your kids about crossing the street, looking both ways, and using crosswalks. Then remind them again.
Tip 2: Stick to the sidewalk
Speaking of, remind them to use sidewalks and crosswalks. They don’t need to be walking in the road, nor should they be running out from behind a parked car to get across the street because they just saw their best friend on the other side.
Tip 3: Avoid the shortcuts
Also warn your kids not to use shortcuts. They should stick to the same route every day, and stay out in the open when getting to and from school, and they should walk with other kids whenever possible. (Using the same route every day applies to kids old enough to drive too.) If you can arrange with other parents to make sure your kids travel as a group, do it.
Tip 4: Don’t be too early
Make sure your kids get to school when supervision is available and not before. Most schools have a time in the morning when you can plan on supervision on the playground before the school building opens. Any children who arrive earlier than that scheduled time are at risk, because they’re unsupervised and possibly even alone. Even teenagers should only get to the school when it’s reasonable to do so, not super early. (Although this advice is likely not needed since being “super early” is not typical of teens–at least not mine!)
Tip 5: Don’t dawdle
Also make sure your kids know not to dawdle on the playground after school, or in the parking lot if they’re older. They need a schedule from you, and they need to stick to it, so they get home or to practice or to daycare right on time.
Tip 6: Know the rules of the road
If your kids ride their bikes to school, go over the rules of the road. And of course, make sure they are wearing helmets! If they’re driving, reiterate commonsense safety tips they learned in driver’s ed.
Tip 7: Stay safe at the bus stop
For those kids who take the bus, stress the importance of staying in the designated area. No wandering around and definitely no running into the street chasing each other. After school, they should go directly from the bus stop to home or daycare. No dawdling!
Tip 8: Have a password
Especially for your younger kids, have a password that someone would have to use to pick up your child unexpectedly. Teach your child to ask a stranger for that password. If your child is travelling to or from school and someone claims you sent them to get the child but they don’t know the password, teach your child to yell for help.
Where you live and how your kids get to and from school will influence the kinds of safety and security measures you’ll need to take as the new school year gets under way. But do take those steps, this year and every year, to keep your child safe from harm, and train them in commonsense ways to protect themselves for that dreaded day when they’re no longer headed to school but out into the real world on their own, all grown up.