4 Steps to Take Before Your Kids Start Walking to School
School is back in session for kids of all ages, and parents are making sure homework is finished, lunches are packed and extracurricular activities are scheduled. But if your kids are walking to school, have you had a discussion with them about how to do so safely? We’ve outlined four important tips to ensure pedestrian safety.
Test Routes Ahead of Time
You may regularly drive the route your child will walk to school, but have you walked it yourself? Do so beforehand so you can look more closely at things like sidewalk safety, crossings that might pose a threat, hazardous areas and hills or curves that could limit visibility. Make notes and choose the best route based on overall safety—even if it might be a little longer. Then, walk the route again with your children to point out any concerns you might have and to ensure they feel comfortable.
Plan for the Unexpected
While walking is a great way for your kids to get active, it’s important to plan for things like temperature and daylight changes. If your child has an extracurricular activity that goes late, have a backup plan so he or she isn’t walking in the dark. Check the weather before leaving in the morning to ensure your child is appropriately dressed and has extra layers or bottles of water if necessary. And if you are concerned about temperature, plan for your child to get a ride or use the bus.
Discuss Traffic Safety
It’s likely that you’ve talked to your children about looking both ways before crossing the street and staying alert when it comes to traffic; now is a good time to reiterate these points and make sure they understand how important it is while walking to school. Remind them of important traffic laws and set limits on things like phone usage while walking so they aren’t distracted. This is also a great time to talk about crossing guards and why it is necessary to follow their instructions.
Create a Walking Group
If your children have friends in the neighborhood, talk to other parents about creating a walking group. By walking together, children can look out for one another and have companionship as they travel to school. There is safety in numbers—and it gives parents peace of mind, too.