It can be a stressful time of year for children and parents: Back to school season. While it can be exciting to go to school, young children may face the anxiety of not know who will be in their class, who their teacher is, and may struggle in developing a new routine. Parents also may face anxiety when their kids go to school, especially in the first years. From first time day care, to planning after school care, to school bus safety can create worry for parents. The list of tips below can help to ease certain safety concerns so you can focus on making it the best year ever!
1. Check your caregiver’s home for corded window coverings as they may pose a potential strangulation hazard: If you send your child to daycare or a caregiver’s home before or after school, make sure to ask the caregiver about safety, including the use of cordless window coverings. Only cordless window coverings should be used where young children are present and will provide one less safety hazard for you to worry about.
2. Make sure a caregiver understands your child’s allergies: Make sure your child’s after school caregiver knows about any potential allergies—whether those allergies are related to pets, food, or household chemicals. By knowing what your child is allergic to, the after-school caregiver can keep allergens out of the house and create a safer environment. Additionally, if your child requires an EpiPen make sure both your child and the caregiver know where the EpiPen can be found and how to use it.
3. When riding the bus, make sure your child understands they must always remain seated and keep their head and arms inside the bus: While riding the bus can be a fun time to see friends and decompress from a long day at school, safety still needs to be at the forefront. Before your young child steps foot on the bus, remind them to stay in their seat and keep all limbs inside the bus to avoid an accident.
4. Develop a unique “safe word” to prevent someone other than parents or designated caregivers from trying to pick a child up from the bus stop: Sometimes you or a designated caregiver may not be able to pick your child up from the bus stop, meaning an alternative caregiver must perform the task. If you cannot reach your child to inform them of an abrupt change of plans, make sure to develop a unique safe word that your child and the person picking them up know to act as a safety signal. This safe word should be something not easily guessed, such as a family nickname. Similarly, don’t put your child’s name on the outside of their school bag.
5. Update your contact information with the school: Your child could come down with an illness or be injured in an accident while at school. Make sure to update your contact information with their school as-needed so you can easily be reached in such instances. It is also a good idea to provide the school with contact information for trusted caregivers, such as a relative or family friend, in case you cannot be reached.
6. Don’t overstuff a backpack: You might not think your child’s bag is heavy, but they might. Between books, lunch, umbrellas and pencil bags, the weight can quickly add up for a young child and be harmful to their neck, shoulders and back. Remember to keep their backpack between 5%-10% of their overall body weight, distribute the weight of materials inside the bag evenly, and remind them to wear both shoulder straps.
7. Talk to your child about bullying: School should be a safe and enjoyable place for kids to learn and develop social skills. Talk to your children about what to do if they are bullied and how to help a classmate who is being bullied.