Elementary school can be overwhelming, both for students and parents. While kids navigate classes and critical development years, parents worry about bullying, emergencies, and other scary incidents. Here's how to make sure your child stays safe at school.
6 Ways You Can Help Your Kids Stay Safe at School
6 Ways you can help your kids stay safe at school
1. Stay healthy
The COVID-19 pandemic is over, but you can still be vigilant about keeping yourself and your kiddos safe and healthy as they head back to school.
Check out the CDC's "Healthy Return to School Checklist" for the latest recommendations, including:
- Backpack emergency card
- Hand sanitizer and tissues
- Healthy snacks
- Reusable water bottle
- Well-fitting shoes and clothes
- Bike helmet
- Insect repellent
- Sunscreen, hat and sunglasses
- Proper hand washing
- Mental health resources
2. Review school policies
It’s important to know how a school handles emergency situations and what rules students are expected to follow. At the beginning of every school year, review the school’s handbook with your child. This guide usually answers most parents’ questions, including dress code, visitors policy, emergency drills and routes, and the school’s stance on bullying.
Make sure your school’s handbook answers your critical questions. If it doesn’t, contact the school’s administration office for clarification. Here are some questions to get you started:
- Is there a zero-tolerance policy for bullying?
- How can your child prepare for a school shooting?
- What plans are in place if a natural disaster or emergency occurs?
- How often are emergency drills conducted?
- Are visitors allowed on school grounds or in the classrooms?
Check out Education World’s analysis of 10 school handbooks and what each one does well.
3. Talk regularly with teachers and administrators
The best way to stay up to date on the school’s safety policy and follow up with any safety issues is to speak with teachers and administrators on a regular basis. These conversations can shed light on any problems your child is facing. And you can do them over Zoom, email, or the phone if needed.
If the school doesn’t already offer parent-teacher conferences, request one with each teacher towards the middle or end of each semester and with an administrator every academic year.
When attending meetings with teachers or administrators, come prepared with a written list of questions. Here are a few examples:
- How is my child doing emotionally and socially?
- Have you witnessed any bullying or harassment in the classroom?
- Is my child present and on time to their classes?
- What can I do to help my child succeed?
- Is there something the classroom lacks that I can help supply?
- Do you conduct emergency drills in your classroom?
4. Encourage open conversation with your child
Maintaining good communication with your child helps build self-esteem and mutual respect. Focus on creating a safe environment at home that emphasizes open and honest conversation.
When you praise your child’s accomplishments and encourage emotional responses, they will be more inclined to open up about their dreams, struggles, fears, or concerns.
At least once a week, use dinnertime to ask questions about your child’s day.
- Do you know anyone who has gotten sick recently?
- Do you feel safe at school?
- What do you enjoy learning?
- Which class do you wish you didn’t have to take?
- What’s one thing you’re really good at?
- Have you witnessed any bullying at school?
- Do you feel respected by your teachers and classmates?
5. Rely on technology for assistance
As hesitant as you may be about providing your child with more technology, there are devices that keep your child safe by monitoring their social media and internet use, current physical location, and more. These devices can alert you to cyberbullying and make sure you know where your kid is at all times.
Monitor the devices your child currently uses and ensure they’re being used to best keep them safe. Consider following these steps:
- Create a safe space to talk to your kid about using the internet and set some ground rules. Check-in regularly.
- Use website filters to block inappropriate websites.
- Add parental control apps to your child’s phone and computer to track their online and mobile conversations for signs of depression, cyberbullying, self-harm, or online predators.
- Review kid-friendly wearable tech devices that can help you keep track of your child’s location at all times.
Why kids GPS trackers are a great alternative to a cell phone
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6. Confirm that your child’s records are up to date
When you first enrolled your child in school, you completed endless paperwork. But as the years pass, it’s easy to forget to update their school files with pertinent information. This can be problematic if your child develops an allergy or if there’s an emergency at the school.
If your personal or contact information changes or you want to confirm what information is currently on record, communicate with the school immediately.
At least once a year or at the beginning of each semester, review and update your child’s paperwork. Consider all the critical information your child’s school should know:
- Allergies or dietary restrictions
- Medications your child takes
- Emergency contacts
- Illnesses your child may be susceptible to
- Disabilities, if any
- Approved visitors or family who can pick up your child from school
Along with these five tips, the best way to keep your child safe is to speak up. If you’re concerned about the cafeteria menu, playground bullying, or school policies, speak with administration or join the PTA.
Suggest opportunities for improvement, and stay involved with school events. You’ll help your child thrive at school while building a protected environment for all students.
Have you had success keeping your child safe at school? Comment and share your tips!
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