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Getting Younger Kids Ready for School: Teaching Road Safety

Illustration: Extremely Good Parenting


At the Stillman and Friedland blog we try to give you the best pointers for home and road safety. We covered the basics for summer and water safety in this post last month. This month let’s look forward to back-to-school preparations you can do to get your smaller children ready for school or pre-school.

Why start so soon? We researched the Nashville area and could not find any organizations or institutions offering Safety Town programs or anything similar. So, it seems that it is DIY time and you need to do just a little preparation. We cannot stress how important it is to teach age-appropriate safety basics to your child, so in this post we will offer tips and resources so you can teach your kids at home. To prepare, you will need to assemble some simple materials and get ready to have fun!

We found a good resource online here, and we will offer you the basic points you need to know—with our two cents thrown in:

• Make rules, and don’t break them. Always be consistent. If you live on a busy street and you are visiting away from home on a quiet street, keep the same rules—even if they seem less urgent.

• Teach kids that you look both ways before crossing the street and model that behavior.

• BUT, small children should NEVER cross alone, and when they cross the street, they must hold your hand at all times. If you don’t have a free hand, they need to hold the stroller or grab onto your clothes. Even better, use a baby carrier or backpack so you do have a free hand.

• This holds true for parking lots also—drivers have limited vision when pulling out of a spot and short people are invisible; kids need to hold your hand at all times.

• Never chase anything into the street. We all have seen the kid who runs into the street and the driver who is forced to screech on the brakes.

• Never leave the house without an adult. This is a main cause of kids getting run over when someone backs the car out of the drive. Know where the kids are before you back out.

• Teach your kids the basics of safety behavior—how cars move on the road, use of crosswalks, and all about basic signs and signals. The point is to have kids understand that there are simple rules to keep them safe.

Since it seems there are no program resources out there, we offer a few fun suggestions to start your kids off right. Add a safety game to your kids’ toys—you may already have the makings at home. (If you have neighbors with kids who are the same age as yours, pool your resources.) Buy a rug with streets and houses marked on it, or use fabric, an old sheet or tablecloth and markers for the same effect. (This is also a craft project to keep them busy.) Using toy cars and trucks and some little “people”, have the child play “red light, green light” to understand how signals work. One child can be the driver or pedestrian, and another can play the stop light. Just make sure they take turns! When you are out, point out how traffic moves to reinforce the point. If you have more active kids and room indoors or outdoors and riding toys, you can set up traffic lanes and intersections using kitchen chairs, lawn furniture or whatever you have at hand. Adding stop signs is easy if you print them off the internet.

When teaching kids, you don’t have to tell them worst case scenarios, just reinforce good behavior. Show that it is important to know the rules and act safely and model good behavior yourself; they will learn to comply. This is the same simple rule you have been using with car seats and seat belts. If everyone in the car is buckled up and strapped in or holding hands before crossing the street, you are on your way!

Because we care…

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