Whether you’re dropping your little one off at kindergarten or waving goodbye to your seasoned fourth grader, the first day of school is often full of mixed emotions. Like many parents, you’re excited about your child’s growing independence but a bit concerned about their safety.
The good news is, even young children can take responsibility their safety and we’re here to help them do so. Review our seven back to school safety tips with your child and kick-start a safe, enjoyable school year that will build their confidence and quell your fears.
1. Focus on pedestrian safety.
Scary but true: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2010, “nearly one in every five children between the ages of 5 and 9 who were killed in traffic crashes was a pedestrian.” If your child walks to school, you can’t reinforce safe walking rules enough. Your child should be taught to always take the same route (never a short-cut), stay on the sidewalk when possible, and use the help of a crossing guard when available. Never let your child wear headphones while walking to school and make sure young children walk the route with you a few times before the big day.
2. Make teachers aware of food allergies.
On the first day of school, make sure your child’s allergies are noted on school medical forms and be sure your child’s teacher is aware of his or her food allergies. Tell the teacher about possible symptoms of an allergic reaction, discuss what kind of treatment should be administered, and under what circumstances. You should also find out if the school lunch program accommodates kids with common food allergies. Take a moment to sit down with your child to be certain he or she is clear about what foods to avoid.
3. Help children be prepared.
Help your child have a safe and positive first day by making sure he or she is well prepared. A good night’s rest, a healthy breakfast and plenty of time to tackle the morning routine are important elements to a successful and safe first day. Keep in mind that children of all ages will be a bit nervous about going to school, and those entering kindergarten may be especially nervous- so prepare your young child by telling him what to expect and answering any and all questions.
4. Find out how your child’s school deals with emergencies.
Whether it’s a lock-down situation or a bad fall on the playground, find out how your child’s school handles emergencies and review your child’s emergency contact list every year to be sure it’s up-to-date.
5. Role playing helps foster confidence.
A week or so before school starts help your child work through anxieties and safety issues by role playing various situations. For example, role play a stranger offering to give him or her a ride, or a situation where he or she gets hurt on the playground.
6. Highlight home safety.
If your child will be at home alone after school, be sure he is responsible enough to keep doors and windows locked. Consider using smart home technology to check in on your child. Smart home systems allows you to be alerted via email or text message when the front door opens or is left ajar and let you to view live video of your home so you can see exactly who is entering.
7. Coping with bullies.
Talk to your child about bullying before the first day of school so she can develop strategies for how to handle bullies. Role playing is a wonderful way to work through the bullying challenge.
We hope you’ll share our safety tips with your child and make his first day of school a safe and positive one that sets the tone for a fantastic year ahead.