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Back to School Safety Tips For Kids and Grownups!
Get ready – the start of another school year is upon us! Maybe you’re eagerly counting down the days until the kids return, or maybe you’re just a little nervous when your little ones head off to preschool for the first time. No matter how you feel about the end of summer vacation, it’s definitely time to start getting ready for the start of a new school year and all that comes with it. In between stocking up and shopping for the latest fashions, take a few minutes to review some safety tips as we prepare for the next 10 months of school activities, sports and extracurriculars, games and everything in between.
· Is your child starting a new school or kindergarten?
· Will they walk to school or wait at the bus stop?
· Will they be spending hours after school in the program or at a friend’s house?
Here are some helpful tips for both younger and older kids, as well as some good and timely reminders for parents!
FOR YOUNGER CHILDREN:
1. In kindergarten, children should know yours Phone number. You can also put an ID card in their backpack with relevant contact information and let them know exactly where it is if needed.
2. Switch exactly who is allowed to pick them up from school… and keep the list short so it’s not confusing. Assessment daily as part of your putting away ritual, especially if different people gather on different days. I.E“Don’t forget grandma is picking you up today.”
3. Create “The Ultimate Safe Adult” a list of who else is allowed to them in an emergency. Limit to 3 safe adults…ie Grandma, Aunt Sue, one or two of their friend’s moms.
4. Tell your kids that you would NEVER send someone they don’t know to pick them up. If someone else tries this, they should immediately go find a teacher or other mother with children and ask for help.
5. Don’t rely on a family password or code word until your kids are at least 8 or 9 years old. Younger children cannot be relied upon to remember the password or ask for it if someone tries to pick them up.
6. Be ON TIME/PUNCTUAL at pick up time. Tell your child exactly WHERE your pickup location is to avoid them wandering off. And remind them to NEVER leave the school grounds to look for you.
7. Don’t put your child’s name on the outside of their belongings. If you must label, use initials or put their name on the inside of clothing, jackets, backpacks, etc.
8. The “touch rule”: Let your child know it’s him THE CHIEF OF THEIR BODY and that their private parts are private! Simply put… “no private parts/touch games with other kids or adults.”
9. Potty rules: In kindergarten, children should be able to use the bathroom by themselves. If they need help, be specific about who they can ask…usually it’s just a teacher or teaching assistant. But don’t be surprised if your school has strict rules about teachers not being allowed to help in the bathroom. Many schools are now very careful about teachers in the bathrooms, changing children’s clothes, etc. Find out exactly what your school has politics is.
FOR OLDER CHILDREN:
1. There is no “right” age for children to walk or cycle to school on their own. Consider your own child’s maturity level. Can they be trusted to cross the streets safely? Would they know what to do if a car pulled up and tried to engage them in conversation? Or if an older child tried to bully them?
2. Kids should USE the buddy system. It’s more fun and much safer.
3. If your child walks to school alone, plan the route in advance and practice it with them a few times first. Always stick to the route. No shortcuts.
4. Designate a few “safe stops” along the way. A convenience store, store, or friend’s house down the road that they can run to if they need help.
5. NO distractions. Children should not go to school with headphones, play DS, etc. Teach them the importance of always being aware of their surroundings.
6. Check your status Megan’s Law website to find out if there are any registered sex offenders living on your route or in the area.
7. Use your own “safe-smarts”: No accepting rides, candy, gifts, or other items from people they don’t know – regardless of WHAT THAT PERSON TELLS THEM.
8. Safe adults don’t ask kids for help – Kids don’t need to “help” strangers who need directions, help finding a lost pet, or any other kind of help.
9. Check first: Never accept a ride or go somewhere (even with someone they know!) without first checking in with you or another safe adult.
10. Review personal safety concepts in plain, common sense language – not fear tactics. Kids will “tune us out” when they think we’re being overly protective or combative about the subject. Let them know that you value their sense of independence and want to make sure they are clear about what to do and what not to do.
FOR ALL CHILDREN:
· Remind your child to trust his instincts: it “And is” feeling. If ANYONE makes them feel uncomfortable at all, they need to get away from that person and tell you ASAP.
· No secrets from mom or dad… especially if it makes you feel “weird” or gross.
· Children can say NO to anyone, even an adult, teacher, sports coach, etc., if asked to do something that makes them feel upset, afraid or uncomfortable. If someone says “Don’t say…” SAY.
Remember that the world is still a safe place and most of the people our children come into contact with they are not dangerous or waiting for us to harm them when we’re not looking. Teach safety skills in an easy and fearless way – just like you would teach any other life skill. A little common sense goes a long way.
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