The hot summer days with the kids at the pool are almost over and school soon will be in session. This exciting time for little ones can also be a nerve-wracking one for parents who are frantically gathering school supplies and clothes, pep-talking little ones to be brave enough to take the bus or stay an entire day at school, and preparing kids with physical and mental needs to be safe and successful at school. This time of year came too fast! Though we have enjoyed our time with our kids this summer, we know it’s time to start getting ready for another school year. To help get our families ready, we started compiling our checklists for back-to-school and thought we might share a 3 part blog post special on our findings. Today, we are starting with one of the first things we worry about as parents at the start of a school day (or end!): the adventure to school. Here are some tips we found helpful to keep our kids safe to & from school.
- Pre-inspect the route your children will be riding or walking to school on.
Make sure there are appropriate crosswalks, crossing guards, and sidewalks. Also ensure that the path is frequently traveled and is used ideally by other school children. Check that sidewalks are safe (no major cracks or other deterrents that may cause accidents) and look for driveways of homes that your kids need to be aware of.
- Take your kids on a walk through their riding or biking route.
A good idea would be to go with them on the first week of school to make sure they are familiar with their surroundings and know where they are to cross (with crossing guards or cross walks) the road. Make sure your kids also know where they should go in case of an emergency and are fresh on their road safety & stranger danger tips. Practice good habits with them like looking and listening for traffic, staying on the sidewalk, watching for vehicles going in and out of driveways, keeping both hands on the handlebars except when signaling turns, stop/look/listen, and riding single file in the same direction of cars.
- Talk, talk, talk!
There is no such thing as talking too much with your kids about road safety. Remind them of good road habits and help them understand why they need to do the things you are asking. Also, make sure kids understand that they are to stay together at all times and shouldn’t ride home alone.
- Check out their gear.
If kids are going to be riding a bike or scooter, make sure the tires have enough air, the brakes and gears work, and the chain isn’t loose. You might look silly, but take it for a spin to check everything out! Attaching reflective gear on their bike is also a great ideas (even during the daylight).
- Make a checklist for school days.
We all know that getting kids ready for school is a task! Mornings often are a time of frantic run-arounds, anxious kids and adults, and stress. Help yourself and your kids out be preparing a check-list and hanging it near the door you will be exiting. From day one of school, make it a habit to do everything on the list, including your daily road safety talk. Your talk should also include of an inspection of your child’s clothing to ensure it will be safe on the bike and seen by drivers. Dress your kids in bright colored clothing or get them a helmet that can easily be seen. Double check for torn pants, long pants, and loose laces that can get caught up in a bike and cause a crash. Tuck shoelaces in and tie wide pants with elastic before letting them take to the bikes!