With school back in session, the past month has probably been full of buying new school clothes, stocking up on essentials like pencils and notebook paper, and at least one trip to the store for an important piece of a school project put off until the last minute (because that’s how kids roll).
But despite all of the new school year tasks, keeping our kids safe is as important as ever, and it’s never too early to instill (or reiterate) good safety habits. To make sure your child’s safety precautions aren’t tucked in the back of their closet with their summer sandals, take some time to review these eight safety tips with them, to keep your children safe all throughout the school day—from the beginning to the end.
Getting to school
- Don’t be too early: Most schools have a set time when there will be supervision in the building, on the playground, and even in the parking lot. If your child walks or is driven to school, make sure they arrive after this time, as any child who arrives earlier is at risk since they could be unsupervised and even possibly alone.
- Stay safe at the bus stop: For children who take the bus, stress the importance of staying in the designated bus stop area. Wandering off could mean missing the bus, and running around chasing other kids could lead to injuries.
- Stick to the sidewalk: Remind your children to stay on the sidewalks and crosswalks—and out of the road—and to be paying attention to where they’re walking. A phone is a common distraction, and looking down playing a game on a smartphone could mean running into another person or crossing the street without looking both ways. Maybe make it a rule that the phone is in their pockets until they get to the school property. This applies as much before they get on the bus as when they get off, if they’re not walking to school.
- Lock your locker: Whether your child carries everything in their backpack, stores belongings in a cubby, or has access to a locker in the hallway, be sure that valuables are being left at home. If your child’s school has lockers, teach them to lock their locker every time they use it, even if all that gets left inside is their lunch and jacket. An unlocked locker could mean an empty stomach later in the day if someone has the opportunity to steal that brown paper bag (or really cool Spiderman lunchbox!).
- Gather all belongings before leaving the classroom: Even without a locker, everything brought into a classroom should leave the classroom with your child. Jackets, books, homework assignments, even a cell phone could get lost if left behind during the next period. Remind them to pack everything up before moving on to their next class or leaving for the day.
- Have a password: Especially for your younger kids, mutually agree on a password that someone would have to use to pick up your child unexpectedly. Teach your child to ask anyone who says they were sent to pick them up for that password. Remind them not just to ask strangers, but even family friends or relatives who should know the password if you sent them. If your child is traveling to or from school and someone claims they are there to pick up your child but they don’t know the password, teach your child to yell for help.
- Don’t dawdle: Taking extra time to talk to friends on the playground or hanging out in the parking lot could mean missing the bus or getting home or to daycare late. Set a schedule with your child of when they need to leave the school and when they need to arrive at their after-school destination so if they don’t arrive it’s not because they hung around school too long, and you’ll know it’s time to worry.
- Tell only parents when home alone: If your child gets home and you aren’t there, make sure they communicate with you and only you. Remind them not to answer the phone and say their parents aren’t around, and not to post on any social media that they’ve got the house to themselves. This includes not telling friends, as information is easily broadcast with today’s social networks.
The age of your kids, where you live, and how your kids get to and from school will all influence the kinds of safety and security measures you’ll need to take as the new school year continues on its way. Taking these safety steps can help ensure your child stays safe and you stay sane…and instill personal safety habits that will last a lifetime.