It’s time to go back to school…again. Between traveling, camps, and just letting the kids be kids, it seemed like summer when so fast. Too fast! Whether your kids have already gone back to school like mine, or if they will go back in the next few weeks, the back to school season is upon us. While you think about pencils, books, and telling your kids not to give any teachers dirty looks, you also should think about back to school safety.
Last month, I wrote about keeping your kids safe at home, which is always important. However, now that many moms have kids who are gone from them for 8 to 10 hours each day (or maybe even longer), it’s important to think about keeping them safe at school too.
[Related: I don’t want him to go to kindergarten!]
Whether you are #teamtears or #teamnotears (or #teamvodlka), preparing kids for going back to school is essential. Take the time to make the most of this fresh start of a school year to review these back to school safety ideas and make sure your kids have a happy, healthy, and most importantly, safe school year.
3 Back to School Safety Tips
1. Have a safe after school plan. In my county, kids can walk home from school by themselves (legally) when they are nine years old. These nine year olds are also allowed to walk younger siblings home by themselves. While this seems young to me, I know some parents need to let children this age be home alone for a while after school for several reasons. If your kids are home alone, make sure they understand the house rules for eating, playing outside, answering the door, and inviting friends over.
A big brother or sister walking home the little one is a great way to encourage independence and responsibility. But be sure to remove anything their curious little heads might try to check out without an adult in the house. Putting parental controls on forbidden TV channels and locks on liquor and medicine cabinets is important. Especially with children 6 and younger in the house, keeping things like laundry detergent packets out of their reach is another way to keep kids safe. Though we typically think about toddlers exploring and putting laundry packets in their mouth, older kids get strange ideas too. Simply removing the temptation can go a long way for their safety and your piece of mind. Always keep laundry detergent closed, sealed, and stored up high and out of reach of little, curious fingers.
Check out the American Cleaning Institute’s laundry safety webpage – www.cleaninginstitute.org/hands-off to get more info on how to keep kids safe with this product at home. You can also enter to win $2500 with their KEY Pledge laundry safety campaign – check it out here: www.keypledge.com.
2. Be aware of bullies. Bullies come in all shapes, sizes, and ages these days. They can intimidate your kids in class, on the bus, in the neighborhood, or through social media. Being aware of how your child is doing in school physically and emotionally as well as academically can help you understand if your child is dealing with any bullies, or if perhaps he/she is the one who is the bully.
Having open, clear communication between your child and yourself is key. And listening…really listening…to how your child is feeling can help too. Stopping the pattern of aggressive, unwanted behaviors toward others at school (or on the Internet) can relieve some of the emotional stress that may go into back to school time for many kids. Check out a great video from Children’s Healthcare of of teens talking about bullying.
3. Partner with the school for ongoing medical issues or allergies. According to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, asthma accounts for more than 500,000 missed days of school each year. It is one of the most common chronic illnesses, and one that can be fatal if not treated. I am asthmatic and so is one of my children so I understand this issue first hand. It is imperative you work with your child’s teacher, school nurse and pediatrician to put together a plan in case your child has an asthma attack. Be proactive and do it now at the beginning of the school year!
Likewise, if your child suffers from allergies, particularly food allergies, have a plan in place with your child’s school to deal with any issues that arise. I have two children with nut allergies and have found a simple conversation with the child’s teacher can alleviate any confusion and make sure your child stays safe throughout the day.
Going back to school should be a fun, exciting time. With a little foresight, effort, and good communication, I’m sure we all can manage to have a healthy and safe school year! Now about the homework struggles, I-don’t-want-to-wear-that struggles, and hurry-up-we’re-going-to-be-late morning chaos struggles…well…good luck with that. Let me know if you have any advice for me!