Making the First Day Easier
Remind your child that they are not the only student who is a bit uneasy about the first day of school. Teachers know that students are anxious and will make an extra effort to make sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible.
Point out the positive aspects of starting school: It will be fun. They will see old friends and meet new ones. Refresh their memory about previous years, when they may have returned home after the first day with high spirits because they had a good time.
Find another child in the neighborhood with whom your youngster can walk to school or ride with on the bus.
If you feel it is appropriate, drive your child (or walk with them) to school and pick them up on the first day.
Choose a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back.
Pack light. Organize the backpack to use all of its compartments. Pack heavier items closest to the center of the back. The backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of the student’s body weight.
Always use both shoulder straps. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles. Wearing a backpack on one shoulder may also increase curvature of the spine.
Consider a rolling backpack. This type of backpack may be a good choice for students who must tote a heavy load. Remember that rolling backpacks still must be carried up stairs, and they may be difficult to roll in snow.
Traveling to and from School
School Bus Safety
Line up facing the school bus door–not along the side of the school bus.
- Don’t play in the street while waiting for the school bus.
- Carry your belongings in a backpack or book bag.
- Never reach under a school bus to get anything that has rolled or fallen underneath.
- After getting off the school bus, move immediately onto the sidewalk, out of traffic.
- Wait for a signal from the bus driver before you cross the street. Walk at least 10 steps away from the front of the bus so that the bus driver can see you.
- Never cross the street behind the school bus.
- Be at the school bus stop on time.
- Wait in a safe place well back from the edge of the road.
- Do not play in ditches or on snow banks.
- Enter the bus in single file holding the hand rail.
- Find a seat right away and stay seated facing forward at all times.
- Do not place things in the aisle.
- Avoid rowdy behavior. Do not throw things or eat or drink.
- Keep your arms and head inside the bus
Parents – What makes a school bus safe?
Why no seat belts?
Information from all types of school bus collisions demonstrates that the current school bus design provides a high level of protection to occupants and that seat belts may actually adversely affect the safety of children on school buses
Instead of requiring seat belts, school buses are designed and constructed differently from passenger cars. School buses protect passengers through “compartmentalization”, a design that includes:
- Seats with high backs;
- Seats filled with energy-absorbing material;
- Seats placed close together to form compartments;
- Strong seat anchorages.
Studies have shown that adding seat belts to the current seating configuration of a school bus can increase the chance of head and neck injuries. For a seat belt to be effective, it must be worn correctly, snug and on the upper thighs. Because school vehicles carry passengers from the very young to high school students, if seat belts were used, they would need to be readjusted and their use monitored. A seat belt not worn correctly may cause serious injuries.
- All passengers should wear a seat belt and/or an age- and size-appropriate car safety seat or booster seat.
- Your child should ride in a car safety seat with a harness as long as possible and then ride in a belt-positioning booster seat. Your child is ready for a booster seat when she has reached the top weight or height allowed for her seat, her shoulders are above the top harness slots, or her ears have reached the top of the seat.
- Your child should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle’s seat belt fits properly (usually when the child reaches about 4′ 9″ in height and is between 8 to 12 years of age). This means the shoulder belt lies across the middle of the chest and shoulder, not the neck or throat; the lap belt is low and snug across the thighs, not the stomach; and the child is tall enough to sit against the vehicle seat back with her legs bent at the knees and feet hanging down.
- All children under 13 years of age should ride in the rear seat of vehicles.
- Remember that many crashes occur while novice teen drivers are going to and from school. You may want to limit the number of teen passengers to prevent driver distraction. Do not allow your teen to drive while eating, drinking, or talking on a cell phone.
- Always wear a bicycle helmet, no matter how short or long the ride.
- Ride on the right, in the same direction as auto traffic.
- Use appropriate hand signals.
- Respect traffic lights and stop signs.
- Wear bright color clothing to increase visibility.
- Know the “rules of the road.”
Walking to School
- Make sure your child’s walk to a school is a safe route
- Be realistic about your child’s pedestrian skills. Because small children are impulsive and less cautious around traffic, carefully consider whether or not your child is ready to walk to school without adult supervision.
- Bright colored clothing will make your child more visible to drivers.
Bullying is when one child picks on another child repeatedly. Usually children being bullied are either weaker or smaller, shy, and generally feel helpless. Bullying can be physical, verbal, or social. It can happen at school, on the playground, on the school bus, in the neighborhood, or over the Internet.
When Your Child Is Bullied:
Help your child learn how to respond by teaching your child how to:
- Look the bully in the eye.
- Stand tall and stay calm in a difficult situation.
- Walk away.
Teach your child how to say in a firm voice.
- “I don’t like what you are doing.”
- “Please do NOT talk to me like that.”
- “Why would you say that?”
Teach your child when and how to ask for help.
Encourage your child to make friends with other children.
Support activities that interest your child.
Alert school officials to the problems and work with them on solutions.
Make sure an adult who knows about the bullying can watch out for your child’s safety and well-being when you cannot be there.
Before and After School Child Care
- During middle childhood, youngsters need supervision. A responsible adult should be available to get them ready and off to school in the morning and watch over them after school until you return home from work.
- Children approaching adolescence (11- and 12-year-olds) should not come home to an empty house in the afternoon unless they show unusual maturity for their age.
- If alternate adult supervision is not available, parents should make special efforts to supervise their children from a distance. Children should have a set time when they are expected to arrive at home and should check in with a neighbor or with a parent by telephone.
- Plan a walking route to school or the bus stop. Choose the most direct way with the fewest street crossings and, if possible, with intersections that have crossing guards.
- Walk the route with your child beforehand. Tell him or her to stay away from parks, vacant lots, fields and other places where there aren’t many people around.
- Teach your child never to talk to strangers or accept rides or gifts from strangers. Remember, a stranger is anyone you or your children don’t know well or don’t trust
- Be sure that your child knows his or her home phone number and address, your work number, the number of another trusted adult and how to call 911 for emergencies.