It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No it’s not Christmas already, it’s “Back to School” time! For many school aged children, this means having to walk to school without an adult. Although the children may love the freedom that this imposes, many parents are scared to death of anything happening to their child on the way back to school. To make sure that your child arrives to his/her destination safely, here are some tips to share with them about safety when walking to school.
Plan a direct route and walk it many times with your child. Make sure that he or she knows how to get to and from school, without question. If you are lucky enough to know someone who lives in a house along the way, point it out in case of an emergency. When you return home, ask your child to repeat the directions to you, such as “Turn left on Rosslyn Avenue then walk straight to the school”. It’s always a good idea to include your home address and telephone number on a slip of paper in your child’s backpack, just in case.
Use the buddy system
If it’s at all possible; never let your child walk alone to school. Ask around your neighborhood and see if there are any other children that could join together while walking to school that can be picked up along the way. Safety is in numbers. A child walking alone is more likely to be approached by a stranger than children walking in numbers of 2 or more.
Be aware of your surroundings
It is very important that children learn to be aware of their surroundings whether it is traffic, a stray dog or an approaching stranger. Walking with their head up and always looking around to see what is going on is the safest way to go. Be on the lookout for cars backing out of their driveways. Of course, we have all talked to our children about “Stranger Danger”, use this time to reinforce the rule that they are to never stop to talk to strangers or approach a stranger’s car. Don’t allow your child to wear ear buds or headphones while walking to school. This puts the child at a huge disadvantage if someone is approaching from behind or honking a horn. IPods and MP3 players aren’t allowed to be used in school and they shouldn’t be allowed to be used walking to or from school.
Learn to cross the street properly
Not everyone is lucky enough to live in an area with safety crossing guards, so children must learn to safely cross the street. When crossing the street, children should stand on the curb and look left, right and then left again before taking one step down onto the street. According to www.safekids.org, pedestrian injury is the 2nd leading cause of unintentional injury/death in children ages 5 to 14 years old. This is a statistic that you do not want your child to be a part of, teach them to cross the street safely.
The most confident and safe kids are the ones that are prepared. Using the buddy system, planning a route to school ahead of time and walking it repeatedly, while learning the rules to crossing the street safely are the first steps to getting your child back to school without worry and injury.