Protect Your Kids Before, During, and After Class With These School Safety Tips
By Ring on October 27, 2022
The school year is in full-swing, which means your kids are deep into sports try-outs, extracurricular activities, and, of course — the latest lesson plans. But while your little ones, pre-teens, or high schoolers learn about math and literature, you also have a subject to brush up on — safety.
You might not always be there to walk your child to the bus each morning or make sure they wash their hands before digging into their lunch, but with these helpful school safety tips, you can still help them stay safe and healthy before, during, and after school.
Tips for Getting to School Safely
Whether your littlest learner is eager to start heading out solo or your teenager is always rushing to make it to school before the first bell, trip there is a crucial start to their day. No matter how they make it from home to homeroom, teaching them these tips can help ensure they get there safely.
Bus Riders: Follow School Bus Safety Rules
While your children chat with neighborhood friends or start reading a book before the bus arrives, it’s an easy time for you to catch up with fellow grownups as well. But during the bus stop wait, it’s still important for kids of all ages as well as adults to remain alert at all times. Here are some safety rules we gathered for you to help keep bus riders safe:
- You should arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes ahead of time, so you’re not running down a street scrambling to get on before the doors shut.
- Stay six feet away from the curb (for smaller kids, that means three big steps) to avoid traffic.
- Stay within view of the school bus driver if you need to cross the street, and always do so at least ten feet in front of the bus (or five to six big steps).
It can be helpful to practice walking a six-foot and ten-foot distance with your child in the evening or on a weekend, so they can feel confident when they do it alone.
Walkers: Do More Than Look Both Ways
If you live within walking distance of your child’s school, they can spend their mornings getting a little fresh air. Keep in mind that most children aren’t ready to walk to school alone until they’re at least 10, so be sure to always have an escort if they’re younger. If you have an older child who is ready to hit the sidewalks unsupervised, we collected these helpful guidelines you can share to help them stay safe on their own:
- Walk on the sidewalk when it’s available. If there’s no sidewalk, stay on the side of the road and walk facing traffic.
- Look left, right, and left again before crossing, and always use crosswalks or intersections with a crossing guard.
- Make eye contact with stopped drivers before you cross in front of them.
- Avoid distractions like phones or flashcards. And as tempting as it is to listen to your favorite songs during the walk, it’s best to put the earbuds away, because they can prevent you from hearing quiet cars.
- If possible, walk in a group.
- Wear reflective clothing or a reflective backpack.
If there are several routes your walkers can take to school, coordinate with school officials, local police officers, and other parents to find the safest one. You can also join (or start) a walking school bus in your neighborhood.
Bike Riders: Stay Alert
Biking to school is an easy way for your pre-teen or teenager to get some exercise outside of recess and gym class. Here are a few tips we put together for you to help ensure a safe ride:
- Ride on the right side of the road in a single file. If your child is under 10, they are probably better off riding on the sidewalk (with an escort), but be sure to check your local laws to see if sidewalk riding is allowed.
- Always wear a helmet and bright clothing or reflectors. Consider a bike light if the ride to or from school will be dark.
- Teach your kids what hand signals to use before turning or stopping, so drivers know what to expect.
- Take into consideration how busy the roads are on the route to school. If you are concerned about heavy traffic, consider using a different transportation method or look for an alternative route on quieter streets.
The right age to start riding a bike to school depends on your child’s skill level. If you’re not sure your child is ready, practice riding with them to see if they have the skills and awareness to get to school safely.
Drivers: Focus on School Road Safety
Starting to drive can be a rite of passage for teens. As soon as they leave the DMV with their new license, they’re probably eager to hit the streets with their friends in tow — but they need to know a few key safety rules first. And these rules aren’t just for any new drivers in your life; they’re helpful for parents to keep top of mind, too:
- Pay attention to school zone signs and follow the speed limit.
- Always stop for school buses and stay 20 feet back when they pick up or drop off students.
- Follow signals from crossing guards, and don’t block crosswalks.
- Watch for children crossing the street, and never pass another vehicle stopped for pedestrians.
Tips for Health and Safety At School
Your kids’ teachers may be responsible for coaching students on math and science, but you can do a little teaching yourself to help keep them safe and healthy while they learn.
Know Your School Safety Policy
It can be hard to keep track of all the forms your children bring home from school during the first week. But if you see a school safety policy or handbook, you should put it on top of the “must-read” pile. Knowing what’s in the school’s safety policy — and sharing the most important notes with your child — can help keep them safe year-round.
Once you familiarize yourself with the school handbook and have a safety-themed conversation with each student, be sure to:
- Check that all emergency contact forms are filled out with the most up-to-date info. And even when school officials have all your important phone numbers, your child should know how to get ahold of you, too. An easy way to give them the info they need (if they aren’t old enough to have it memorized by heart yet) is to fill out an emergency card and put a copy in their backpack. (If your child tends to bring home crumpled homework, consider laminating the emergency card so it doesn’t get damaged).
- Explain the importance of safety drills and following all instructions from teachers.
Teach Kids Classroom Safety and Wellness Habits
School safety involves more than knowing the closest fire route. To keep your kids safe — both physically and mentally — during the school day, teach them to:
- Frequently wash their hands for 20 seconds and use hand sanitizer when a sink isn’t available since germs spread easily in the classroom.
- Speak to a trusted adult (teacher, counselor, or you) if they ever feel unsafe at school.
- Take off necklaces or clothing with drawstrings when playing sports or on the playground.
- Wear both backpack straps — not just one — to equally distribute the weight and avoid overstuffing their bags.
- Pay attention to any rolling backpacks since they can be a tripping hazard.
Tips for Staying Safe After School
Hearing that last bell ring can be one of the most exciting parts of your child’s day. But before they run off to play basketball with their friends or meet a study buddy in the library, you should set a few guidelines.
Establish An After-School Routine
- Make sure your kids know what they’re supposed to do once the school day ends. Will they take the bus home? Will you pick them up? Do they have after-school activities, and on what days? If your child is old enough to drive, do they need to call you before heading someplace other than home?
- Communicate an emergency plan if someone isn’t available for pickup or activities get canceled. Make sure your kids always know how to reach you or a trusted family member if plans change.
- Let your child know ahead of time if after-school plans change (when possible).
Set After-School Rules for Kids Who Stay Home Alone
If you plan to let your children come home after school before you get back from work, you should set a few ground rules. Here are a few questions to help you decide what you’re comfortable with:
- Is my child old enough to be home alone after school? Knowing when to leave your child home alone isn’t always easy, and there isn’t a set age or guideline for most states. When deciding if your child is mature enough, consider if they can care for themselves, respond to unfamiliar situations, and feel comfortable alone.
- Do I want my child to communicate when they get home each day? If so, decide if you want a text message, phone call, or quick wave to your Ring Video Doorbell.
- What should my child do during an emergency? You may have a neighbor’s house they can go to or an emergency contact to call if they can’t get ahold of you at work. Decide on a game plan before leaving your child home alone and teach them how to call 911 in a worst-case scenario.
- What should my child do before I get home? Let your kids know how long you expect them to work on homework before they can fire up the video game console.
- What appliances am I comfortable with them using? Your gas stove may be off limits, while the microwave is A-okay.
Use a Security System for Peace of Mind
Even if you’re not physically home when your children return from a long day at school, you can feel like you are with a Ring Video Doorbell. You can get a notification when your kids walk past and use Live View to say hi or ask about their day with Two-Way Talk.
If you have a security system like Ring Alarm, you can set a daily schedule to change the Alarm Mode to “Home” or “Away” at different times, like when your kids usually leave or arrive home from school. By changing your alarm setting to “Home” mode when they arrive, you can arm whichever sensors you designate in settings — like contact sensors on doors and windows. That extra peace of mind can make it easier to focus on finishing the workday while your kids are safely studying (or raiding the pantry for an afternoon snack) at home.
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