Back to School: K Thru B.A.

Jay Stillman

5 min read

Reflective Backpack Cover – RespectMyLane.comStillman and Friedland know that many parents are happily counting the days until the kids go back to school. Back to routine is great, so let’s do it sagely and safely. We are going to give you tips for all ages, because as parents well know, just when you get a handle on one stage, everything changes!

The Youngest Crowd:

• Walking to school is a new routine. Until your child is familiar with the way to school, it is best to walk your child to school. If you are putting an older child in charge of this task, make the rules very clear. The older child is fully in charge of the younger until the younger child is at his or her classroom door on the first day. No ditching the younger sib when friends appear. Afterwards it may be sufficient to escort the child only to the school entrance. Use your judgment regarding how much you need to manage this so that the child feels safe.
• Review appropriate behavior regarding strangers. Your child should never accept a ride without your knowledge and consent. This should be ironclad. Spell it out that only if your child hears you actually give permission are they allowed to accept a ride. “Your mom said it is okay” is not okay. These days, the child can usually use a cell phone to make sure it’s really okay.
• Likewise, someone they don’t know who waves at them on the street all the time is also a stranger, unless Mom or Dad knows them. Point out that familiarity does not “de-stranger” anyone.
• It’s a good idea to set up a rotation for bad weather pick-up with other parents. Confirm with the scheduled driver and the kids so there is no confusion and everyone remembers.
• The school bus ride should be a simple and fun start to the day, but it doesn’t always work that way. Remove the stress of catching the bus by making sure everything is ready to go the night before.

Bullying: A lot has been said on this topic. We will just point out that parents should watch for changes in the child’s mood. If your child seems miserable going to school it is up to you find out why. Remember that kids are threatened not to tell, but this is exactly how to solve the problem. Not telling only protects the bully.

Older Kids on Bikes:

Tennessee law requires a safety-approved bicycle helmet for all bicycle riders and passengers under the age of 16. Parents are responsible for making sure that this law is obeyed; not to do so is a violation of state law TCA 55-8-171 – Operation of Bicycles and Play Vehicles. Failure to do so is a Class C misdemeanor:
• (b) The parent of any child and the guardian of any ward shall not authorize or knowingly permit that child or ward to violate [this law].
• (c) The regulations applicable to bicycles and electric bicycles shall apply whenever a bicycle or electric bicycle is operated upon any highway or upon any path set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles subject to those exceptions stated herein.
• Cyclists are also required to have and use a headlight when traveling at night. We also recommend reflective gear similar to the backpack cover shown at the beginning of this blog post.
• Functioning brakes are also mandatory.

Teen Drivers:

We have covered this topic in the past, and the main point here is always avoiding distracted driving.
• Distracted driving is more lethal than drunk driving. Obviously, neither is acceptable.
• We strongly suggest that you have an app on your teen’s phone that does not allow texting and driving. Need a recommendation? Look here for reviews of the best apps.
• Talking and driving is not safe either. In fact, no distractions are safe for teens. According to

Teenagers comprise a higher-risk group of distracted drivers for a number of reasons, not least of which being that they are typically much newer drivers in general.
• Another type of distracted driving for teens is having friends in the car. The more kids in the car, the higher the chances of an accident, making it even more risky than texting.
• Do not let your kid be either the driver of or a passenger in a car full of teens. If you have to play chauffeur, so be it. Better safe than sorry.
• Review the rules of the road with your teen regularly. Making a game of spotting other drivers’ mistakes while driving together is one option. Actually driving with your teen will help you spot his or her weak points and correct them.

Off To College:

Hopefully by now your kid will be a more solid citizen, but remember that the human brain is not fully developed until age 25. A garbage can full of grain alcohol punch didn’t improve brain function back in our college days, and neither does anything else available at parties these days.
• Point out the dangers of driving drunk or drugged.
• Remind both guys and girls that there are inherent dangers to over-inebriation of any kind.
• Everything they do can be videoed and seen on the internet for posterity. Don’t do anything you don’t want your future boss or spouse to see.

If you send them off to college with their own car:

• Check that the car is properly serviced and in good running order.
• Make sure that the car is loaded properly so visibility is not impaired.
• Check to make sure the uninsured motorist coverage is up to date, along with the rest of the car insurance.

Stillman and Friedland wish everyone a happy and safe school year.

…Because we care.