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. Fortunately, there are ways you can make sure your child stays safe at school. We’ll discuss five steps you can take to get started.
1. 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 those concerning dress code, the 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?
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?
2. Meet 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 meet with teachers and administrators on a regular basis. These meetings can shed light on any problems your child is facing. 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?
Do you conduct emergency drills in your classroom?
What can I do to help my child succeed?
3. 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.
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 safe at school?
Do you feel respected by your teachers and classmates?
4. 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 cyber-bullying 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 him or her safe. Consider following these steps.
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.
Review kid-friendly wearable tech devices that can help you keep track of your child’s location at all times.
5. Confirm 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.
Illnesses or disabilities your child may have or be susceptible to.
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 and contribute to creating a protected environment for all students.
Have you had success keeping your child safe at school? Comment and share your tips!
Written by Melissa Darcey
Melissa Darcey is a freelance writer whose work has been featured in a number of technology, lifestyle, and business publications. Learn more