Of course, the ideal situation would be for every mom to be able to personally drive their child to school, so all worries of what dangers lurk between home and school would cease to exist. Unfortunately, economic times have made this a luxury that only a few parents can afford. Most moms have to trust the bus drivers with their children or allow their children to walk to and from school.
It is a known fact that danger is everywhere at all times. Knowing this, mothers do tend to be overprotective at times. The following considerations should ease your mind and help you better prepare your child for a safe journey to school.
1) Planning the Route
If your schedule allows, it is always a good idea to walk with your child the first few times to ease any anxiety either of you may have. If this is not possible, consider doing a practice walk on a day that you do have time. This is important because it gives you a first person view of the potential dangers that your child may encounter on his way to school each day. As you detect obstacles or potential hazards, talk them over with your child. Give them guidance by providing solutions in advance should a problem arise. This will also provide an opportunity for them to ask questions, not to mention a great way to bond.
2) Cover the Basics
Whatever you do, don’t forget the basics. Most adults know that before crossing a street you are supposed to look left, right, then, left again. Sometimes, we forget that these were lessons that at some point were taught to us as well. So, do not assume that your child knows basic pedestrian safety protocol.
3) Crossing the Street
Now that you child knows the basics, it would be wise to get more in depth on road safety. If possible, plan to only cross where there are crossing lights or school crossing guards. Remind your child that not everyone follows the rules. So, even though the walk light may be lit, it is still better to check to make sure it is safe to cross. You may want to practice the school’s crossing guard hand signals so that he will know which one means it is safe to proceed.
It is imperative to stress the importance of yielding to traffic. Many children are killed each year in pedestrian and vehicular accidents. Some are even killed by their own school bus. According to Stokes & Kopitsky, “…motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death among children in the United States. Children also top the list of at-risk victims in accidents involving trucks, buses, and bikes.” So, please make sure your child is as prepared and protected as possible.
4) Emergency Plan
“Stranger Danger” is still as prevalent today as it was decades ago. Though, your child may be taught some precautions at school, it is a good idea to have your own emergency plan in place. This is the technology era, so you may want to consider giving your child a cell phone for such situations. Using code words is another way to safeguard your children. Decide on a word that only you and your child knows to use in case you have to send someone the child doesn’t know to pick them up from school. The “stranger” would tell the child the code word to let them know that they can be trusted.
5) Proper Outerwear
It is a “no brainer” that you would want your children to be warm in the winter and cool in spring. However, your child’s outerwear may need a little more consideration in certain regions. In some places, the sun rises late on winter mornings and it sets as early as 5pm. This means that it is not only cold outside, it is dark. You may want to consider providing your child with a reflective jacket or vest during these times. There are actually some fashionable footwear and backpacks that twinkle, which could be an option as well. A flashlight may also come in handy to avoid tripping as well as injuries. It would definitely be a bonus for the ones who are a little afraid of the dark.
Making sure that your child attends school each day is a must. Parents who have to trust their children to walk alone may be fearful of what will happen in their absence. The best option is to try to find other kids your child can walk with, because there is safety in numbers. There may also be another mother available to supervise them during their walk. As a last resort, you can call your child’s school to check in on them each morning until you feel confident in your child’s ability to walk alone safely.