Is your child ready for a little more independence? Though you may want to personally protect them forever, allowing them to stretch their wings is good for them. There are benefits for Mom, too, including more time for yourself. With a few tips on how to keep kids safe on the walk to school, you’ll be able to enjoy that time with peace of mind.
Choose the Best Route
This is an opportunity to show your child their place on a map. Look at different route possibilities and discuss why they’ll be taking less busy residential streets and avoiding dangerous intersections. Walk the area with your child and look for sidewalks and bike paths, adequate safety signage, visible crosswalks, and other kids walking. Don’t rule something out an indirect route because it takes a little longer. One of the main benefits of walking to school is incorporating more exercise into kids’ daily routines.
Dress Them in Bright Clothes
Make sure drivers can see your kids with items of clothing that are impossible to miss—the brighter the better. If you let them pick out their ensembles, brace yourself for looks you might otherwise flinch at. If they wear a uniform, add neon hats, scarves, and jackets for their walk.
Teach Them the Basics
Go slowly, making sure your children understand safety rules both in theory and in practice. Make sure they:
- Walk facing traffic.
- Look left, right, and left again before walking across the street.
- Always cross at a crosswalk.
- Make eye contact with drivers at the intersection while crossing.
- Avoid ducking between cars.
- Keep from wearing earphones while walking.
Enlist Some Adult Help
No, it’s not cheating to take turns chaperoning a neighborhood group of kids, especially if it will ease the transition to walking alone. You can involve the school district by taking advantage of pro-walking organizations that offer school grants, resources, training, and solutions. You’ll even find federal funding available for infrastructure improvements if you implement the Safe Routes to School program.
Learning how to keep kids safe on the walk to school is a big step forward for both you and your child. They’ll learn that new privileges come with responsibility. And you’ll be reminded that you can’t do everything for them. If you’re used to driving them to school, take advantage of the extra time to do something yourself—not work. It’s taken a lot of effort to get your children to this point, so reward yourself and enjoy the moment.
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