It’s that time of year again! Parents everywhere are getting ready for their school-aged children to head back to school. I myself have a little one getting ready to start Kindergarten this year and I’m more than a little anxious about how things will go. There are the obvious anxieties like, will she make friends? Will she like her teacher? Will she fall behind the other children or will she thrive in the new learning environment? Now, I’m sure the teachers and staff at the school are wonderful people and my daughter will be just fine. When it comes right down to it my concerns lie in her commute between the school and our home.
So, I started thinking – if I’m nervous, she’s probably pretty nervous, too. And, there’s probably a lot of other parents who are pretty nervous about their kids heading back to school. That being said, there’s no harm in taking extra precautions, right? So, what better way to help quell all our anxieties than to focus on how we can help make them a little safer as they start out on their new adventures whether they be Kindergarteners or Freshman.
Emergency Contact Cards
First and foremost, you can help protect your kids by putting an emergency contact card in his or her backpack. Use one that has a place for the child’s name, address, phone number, and emergency contacts. Of course, there are tons of examples on Pinterest, so you can find one or create one that matches your needs but I chose one that also addressed pertinent medical information like known allergies and current medications.
It is my sincerest hope that my child will never have a need for this card, but I feel better knowing that if the need arises she’ll have it with her. If she ever gets lost and can’t remember her address, she’ll have it. No matter how she’s getting home, if she’s ever injured and unable to speak or tell police or paramedics who she is, it’s my hope that they’ll find the information and know who to call right away. Again, best case scenario she’ll literally never need it and I’ve wasted a bit of ink, paper, and lamination. Worst case scenario, she’ll have it right when she needs it most.
Riding the School Bus
If you have children that will be riding the bus to and from school, or even just for school field trips, you may want to make sure to go over some basic safety rules with them. For example, make sure they know to always stay three giant steps back from the curb where their bus picks them up until the bus comes to a complete stop. Remind them that they should always cross in front of a bus, never behind it. It’s also important that they remember to walk with enough space between themselves and the bus so that the bus driver can see them at all times. Last, but certainly not least, make sure that your children remember to use inside voices and stay in their seats at all times. Loud noises and movement from the back of the bus can pull the driver’s attention away from the road. And, as we know, a distracted driver is not a safe driver.
Walking or Riding Bicycles
If your children won’t be riding the bus but instead will be walking, riding their bikes, or being picked up by a parent there are still transportation based safety tips to discuss. You probably have already had the, “Never get in a car or talk to strangers” conversation at least one hundred times, but there’s definitely more to be thinking about.
If your child will be walking or riding their bikes home, make sure they take the same route to and from school every time. Children should use the buddy system so that they are never alone. Make sure they know to never make an unexpected stop. They should always go straight to their final destination unless they have discussed the stop with you ahead of time. Remind children to take care when crossing streets and to always use sidewalks and clearly marked pedestrian crossings after checking for oncoming traffic. Ensure your children understand the importance of being aware of their surroundings. Cell phones, tablets, or other electronic devices should only be used in case of an emergency. Finally, make sure your children are checking in with an adult as soon as they return home safely.
If your children will be picked up at the end of the day or are a part of a carpool, make sure they understand the importance of never leaving the school with someone unexpected – even if they know them. If someone other than you, or the person who normally picks them up will be taking them home, make sure they know about it before they go to school. In the event that a pickup change needs to be made last minute, make sure to contact the school and the teacher directly so that they are aware of the situation and can ensure your child ends up in the right place. Teach your children to look for signs of an impaired driver and to trust their gut. If they don’t feel comfortable getting in the car with someone have them speak to their teacher or another staff member so that an adult can investigate the situation.
As parents, it’s our job to worry about and protect our children. We hope this post on back to school safety has helped ease some of your worries and helped you think about new ways to protect your children. No matter how your child gets to and from school, there are ways to help ensure their safety.