With school starting back up and a majority of districts sending kids back to classes in person, the age-old question, “How are my children going to get to school?” has come back up into parents’ minds. If you live far from their location, your options are limited. You can drive them, or they can ride the bus.
If you’re closer, though, you have many more to choose from, including allowing them to walk or bike to school. Understandably, this can be a nerve-wracking choice depending on their age and where you live, but you can’t always drive them every day. That’s why we’ve put together a list of safety tips for kids who walk or ride bikes to school. That way, you can rest easy knowing that they will be OK.
Walk With Them
By far, the best and most effective way to ensure that your child is safe is to walk with them to school. You can keep a watchful eye on them from the second they walk out your door until they’re safely inside the school.
However, just like driving them to school, there will come a time where this isn’t an option anymore, especially if they feel like you’re embarrassing them. There’s not much you can do to avoid this; however, you can take advantage of your time together to teach them what and what not to do when walking to school on their own someday. Also, it’s a great time to bond with them, especially when you pick them up from school since you can ask them about their day.
Plan a Route for Them
Once you’re at the point where your child won’t let you come with them, it’s a good idea to plan a route with them. If you walked them to school for a few years, they’d probably continue to take the same path you took them on. They’ll eventually go to a new school, and you’ll have to plan out a safe route for them to take again. Once you do, go walking through it with them.
Go Over Road Safety
While planning out a route for them, you’ll notice that there are times when busy streets or dangerous intersections are inevitable. This is a great time to make sure they are aware of the basic rules of the road for pedestrians. This is even more vital if your child plans on riding a bike. While it’s usually OK to have a kid ride their bike on the sidewalk, it’s illegal to do so in some places. This means your child might have to ride in the street. That’s when knowing road rules are even more necessary.
Send Them With Friends
If you’re worried about your son or daughter walking to school all by themselves, your best option is to send them with a group of friends or nearby neighbor kids. Not only are they safer in a large group, but they will have a lot more fun going to school than they would on their own.
Don’t Accept Rides From People
While “stranger danger” isn’t as big of a problem, since most child kidnappings happen with people the kids know and trust, you still need to teach your kids the dangers of adults who confront them. A common occurrence they will run into while walking to school is a friend’s parent driving by and asking if they want a ride.
The safest option is to have your kid say no, but it’s not as simple as that. Sometimes it’s the parent of their best friend who they’ve seen countless times. It’s hard to say no to someone like that. A safe rule is to let your kid say yes if their friend is in the car already. Most adults won’t implement their own child in a serious crime like child kidnapping, so your child should be safe. If their friend isn’t in the car, you should advise yours to pass on the offer.
Give Them a Way To Communicate With You
No matter who they go to school with, though, it’s always reassuring to know that your kid has gotten to school safely. That’s when smart devices come into play. If your child already has a smartphone, telling them to text you when they get into their classroom is a reasonable compromise.
If your kid is too young for a phone, maybe a smartwatch is more up their alley. This would give them the ability to text you without having all of the freedoms and distractions that a smartphone brings. We sell a kids’ cell phone watch on our site that allows them to text, call, and even video chat if needed while on their way to school. You can rest easy knowing that they are a message away.
Track Them as They Go to School
If you live in a bad area and want to know that they’re safe every minute of the way, then you can use their smart device to track them. While your child might not like that, it’s something that they’ll have to deal with if they don’t want mommy or daddy going with them to school. Our smartwatch has this ability as well if you’re interested in this option.
Have Them Wear Proper Safety Gear
While we aimed most of our safety tips for kids who walk or ride bikes to school at both walkers and riders, it’s time to focus on kids who ride their bikes. The main danger they’ll have to deal with is crashes.
While you can’t stop them from crashing and hurting themselves, you can at least equip your child with the proper safety equipment to make their crashes less painful. If they refuse to wear it, you’ll need to fight it because being safe is more important than being cool.
Advise Them Against Distracted Riding
These days, there’s a new issue plaguing bike riders: distracted riding. We can’t say we’re shocked since it’s such a common problem for people who drive, but we need to handle it nonetheless. Going over the dangers that could happen if your child texts while riding their bike can help stop them from doing it, but there are plenty of other techniques that you can try.
The important thing is breaking them out of the habit before they start driving and putting themselves and others into even more danger than they were on their bike.