It’s back-to-school time, keep those kids safe!
As summer winds down, many of us find ourselves in back-to-school mode. We’ve filled the new backpacks with notebooks, Kleenex, calculators, pens and pencil crayons of every colour. Bedtimes are getting set back and the snack cupboard is being refilled.
Before the big day comes, it’s important to go over some safety rules for walking to school. If you’re wondering at what age it’s appropriate for your child to walk alone to school, many studies suggest children don’t fully develop the cognitive skills to safely cross the street until around the age of 10. They notice a car’s colour before its speed and it’s difficult for them to assess how quickly a car is moving, therefore placing their safety at risk. If they are ready to walk without you, here are some helpful tips to go over with them.
Have your child walk with buddies. There is safety in numbers. Drivers see groups of children more easily than a child walking alone. They buddy system also helps discourage any predators. That being said, always remind them not to talk to strangers and if someone speaks to them from a vehicle, they should run away in the opposite direction the vehicle is facing.
Be sure your child walks a specific route to and from school each day. If he loses something, it’s easy to retrace the steps to find it, or if he’s dawdling after school and you’re getting a little worried, you can set out to find him and hurry him home. You can also point out safe homes of friends along the route that he can go to if he’s ever hurt or in trouble.
Store Away Electronics.
Explain that electronics like iPods, cell phones and MP3s should stay in their bag while walking to school because wearing earphones or texting while walking is distracting.
Implement a secret code word with your children that only you and they know. If someone tells them that they were asked by you to pick them up, explain they are not to go unless the person gives them the correct code word. Make it something easy to remember but unique to them, like their favourite ice cream flavor or superhero.
Stress the importance of being alert and aware of their surroundings. Remind them about not jutting out between parked cars, crossing at crosswalks and looking both ways before crossing the street.
Children always seem to want to do things that make them feel more grown up. Walking alone to school helps build confidence and supports their independence. With the proper safety tools in place, you can help your child reach this maturity milestone.