by Kiera Ford, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross North Texas
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Well, for parents that is…
Summer is officially over and school is back in session. No more late summer nights, hanging with your crew all day, everyday, and sleeping in past noon. For parents and teachers, like myself, the end of summer means horrifically early mornings, super late afternoons, and LOTS of tissues and hand sanitizer (Make sure you bring a box of tissue and a bottle of hand sanitizer–it’s on your supply list!).
Getting ready for the new school year can be very exciting. It brings new friends, new teachers, and many new adventures. However, with all the hustle and bustle and excitement associated with going back to school, it is super important that parents, students, and teachers take the necessary precautions to keep everyone safe throughout the school year.
1) Establish a Routine
Establishing a routine with your student can help them learn where they need to be and when. It helps them to get in the habit of doing the same thing over and over, so that they become used to doing it, even when you’re not there. Having a routine also helps parents who can’t see their child off to school, because they know where the child should be and at what time, thus ensuring the child’s safety and helping to build responsibility.
2) Carpool/Walk in Groups
For students who have to report to school before 8am, they will be out of the house in the dark (specifically after daylights savings). Parents should consider working together to establish a carpool system or have students living in the same neighborhood walk to the bus stop or school together. Students walking together are less likely to be approached by a stranger and can help each other should any adversity occur.
If your student is unable to walk with a group nor can they partake in a carpool, make sure they are using a flashlight in the mornings when it is dark and be sure to establish a check-in routine. What’s a check-in routine? Well, a check-in routine is a method for parents to know that their child is safe. Have your child send you a text once they have started walking to school or the bus stop. Have them send another text once made it to the bus stop, and a final text once they are actually on the school bus or have made it to school if they are walking. If your student doesn’t have a cellphone, request that the school send some form of notification that the student has arrived at school safely (this is especially common for elementary children).
3) Be Aware of Your Surroundings
While commuting, specifically for walkers, it is very important to always be aware of your surroundings. I know it’s a “thing” to walk around with your music busting your eardrums, but make sure that your student knows that they need to be able to hear what is going on around them as well as be alert to who is around them. Being alert keeps people from sneaking up on your student and allows them to be able to describe people and surroundings should anything occur. Also, it is important that your student also be knowledgeable about the names of the streets that are on their route. This is important because the student and parent should know the names of the streets that they are walking at all times. By making sure your student is aware of their surroundings, you are ensuring their well being and making sure that they arrive to school safely and ready to learn.
4) Follow Campus Rules
Once your student has made it to school, it is imperative that they follow the campus rules. Trust me, this isn’t Ms. Ford the English teacher speaking. Campus rules are there for one reason only–to keep students safe! Following the rules keeps everyone in the school safe, students and teachers alike. I know how tempting it can be to pull the fire alarm or to let a fellow classmate or friend into the building through the backdoor. However, make sure your student knows that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of lives impacted by their actions. As a teacher, my job is not only to teach, but to make sure that every student is safe. However, teachers can’t do it alone. It takes everyone, teachers, parents and students, each doing their part to help make our campus safe.
Now that I’ve been a total stickler with the rules, I’ll leave you with a little advice to share with your student while beginning their new school year:
“Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and the thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself.” -Edmund Lee
Have a wonderful and safe school year!