As September approaches, parents are getting their children new school supplies, shopping for back to school clothes, and returning to the regular hustle and bustle of a new school year. However, as we can’t keep an eye on them while they are away from home, it is important to equip our children with the right tools to ensure their own safety. Here are some tips to go over with your child as the school year begins:
- Learn the school’s COVID-19 guidelines. This year, COVID-19 is a new concern for families as the school year approaches. Make sure your child knows and follows the school guidelines regarding physical distancing, hand-washing, and classroom safety. Also make sure that your child tells you and their teacher if they are feeling sick or have any cold or flu symptoms.
- Learn the school’s emergency procedures. Generally, teachers go over emergency action plans with the children (e.g., lock-down procedures, fire exits, etc.). Still, it is a good idea to go over these procedures with your children so that they have the confidence to know what to do in case of an emergency.
- Know the travel routes to and from school. Make sure both you and your child know the primary route they take to get to and from school, and any alternate routes as well. Tell your child not to waver from these routes or go anywhere that is unfamiliar to them. Teach them to obey the crossing guards, look both ways when crossing the streets, and to stay on the paths and sidewalks. Practice the route with your child before school starts, and have them go with a trusted adult, friend, or sibling so that they are not alone.
- Make sure your child knows the proper bus safety. If they take the school bus, make sure they know the route to the bus stop and are there on time. While on the bus, tell them to sit properly in their seat and keep their hands, legs, and body in their own space (i.e., not poking out of the windows or in the aisles). Remind them to be respectful of the driver’s rules. Let them know that they should feel comfortable to tell the bus driver if they are feeling unsafe or bullied.
- Make sure your child and the school knows your emergency contact information. In case of emergency, it is important that your child or the school is able to get a hold of you or another trusted adult. Ensure that all emergency contact information is up to date.
- Inform the school staff about health and emotional concerns. Make sure the school knows about any food allergies, bullying issues, mental health issues, learning or physical disabilities, or any other information that may affect your child’s experience and safety at school.
- Remind your child not to go anywhere they shouldn’t. Whether that be out of sight from teachers during recess, parking lots or roads, or “off-limits” areas, make sure your child knows how important it is to follow the rules and that they are in place for their own safety.
- Teach your child what to do if they feel unsafe. Ensure that they pay attention to when they are experiencing feelings of fear, and that they know what to do if they feel unsafe. This includes actions such as finding a teacher or principal, knowing when to call 911, and knowing how to contact you or another trusted adult. Make sure your child feels comfortable opening up to you about their feelings or asking questions regarding safety.
We hope you share some of these tips with your child to ensure that they have a fun and safe school year!