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Parent Guide

Eccleston Elementary

Parent/Guardian Handbook

Helping You BEE the Best Parent You Can BEE!

 

Provided by Melissa Benino, Eccleston Dean/Behavior Support

 

Multitasking is every parent’s middle name. We are always working to accomplish many things at once. Taking care of family, work, house, friends… Suddenly, days, weeks, months fly by. We love being parents, and we certainly love our kids. And we work hard to raise great kids. But sometimes it seems the hardest job in the world! This is devoted to you, the parent, and aims to provide you with some tips and ideas that hopefully will lessen the stress and increase the joy of being a parent!!

Leaving Your Child Home Alone

Things to consider: It is natural to be nervous about leaving your child home alone, but if both you and your child are prepared, this can be an experience that boosts his confidence level and increases his sense of independence and responsibility. It is generally recommended that children under 10 years-old should not be left at home alone. However, even if your child is older, it really depends on many factors, including how responsible and mature you feel your child is, how comfortable both you and your child are, and the length of time your child will be alone at home.

Preparation and communication are key

  • Talk it over. Make sure your child is comfortable with being left home alone. Leave a list of do's and don'ts and any information your child might need. Go over situations that might come up and how to handle them. Make sure your child knows where you will be, when you will be back and how to reach you. Make sure you are back on time, and talk to him afterwards about the time that he was home alone.
  • Try it out. Before you leave your child at home for a long period of time, you might want to do a test run. See how it goes for you and for your child when you go out for an hour or so to run an errand. Check in once or twice while you are out, and talk to your child afterwards about the time she was alone.
  • Safety first. Go over some important safety information with your child. Make sure he knows not to open the door to anyone, even if they are familiar, and not to tell telephone callers that he is home alone. Discuss how he can exit the house in an emergency: there should be at least two ways he can exit. Make a list of important phone numbers, such as that of the police and fire department, doctor's office, and a trusted relative or friend he can call if you cannot be reached, and make sure he knows his full name, address, and telephone number. You can ensure that doors and windows are secure, check that smoke alarms are working, and store anything dangerous that your child could get into, including firearms, car keys or alcoholic beverages. Put together a first aid kit with your child for minor cuts or scrapes, and make sure he knows what to do.
  • Ground rules. Set and discuss limitations on having friends over, TV and computer time, kitchen and cooking, and the safety information mentioned above. Discuss what your child might do while you are gone. You can ask that she does her homework, read for a certain length of time, or finish some chores. Having a schedule to follow while you are gone will occupy time safely. When you return home, discuss with your child what she did during your absence.
  • Be available. Let your child know that you will call to check in once in a while, and that he can always call you (or a relative or neighbor on the list) if he is lonely or feels unsafe.

Siblings: About sibling rivalry

What parents can do?

  • Know why they act out. Siblings fight with one another for a variety of reasons. They could be seeking attention from you or trying to distinguish and separate themselves from one other. Older children dislike being seen as the responsible ones, and younger children dislike being compared to their older sibling, and each may be trying to express these feelings by taking their frustration out on the other.
  • Set ground rules. While sometimes children do need to argue and sort out their differences, it is important that they do it in a safe and healthy way. While you should try to avoid getting involved, your children should know what is appropriate and what is not. For example, under no circumstances is it ok to use physical fighting to resolve differences. Fighting should not take place in the car, as it can be distracting to the driver.
  • Teach positive interaction. One way to minimize squabbles among your children is to model cooperation, compromise, and anger management. Teach them to take a deep breath and remember not to say things they do not mean in the heat of the moment. Remind them that it takes two to argue, and show them how to apologize to one another. Help them figure out ways to cooperate and compromise, take turns, and sometimes agree to disagree. If you do get involved, try not to yell or lecture.
  • Don't compare. . Each of your children is unique and fighting with each other is one of the ways in which they are conveying this to one another and to you. Make sure you spend some one-on-one time with each child. While it is easy to enroll your children in the same activities, especially if they are of the same age or gender, recognize their individual talents and interests. Try to avoid asking your older child to bring a younger sibling along when hanging out with friends, because this can lead to resentment. Also, teach your children that fair is not always equal. Older children are often given more responsibility, and younger children do not always get the same privileges.
  • Make family time a priority. A good way for your children to learn to get along with one another is to emphasize the importance of family. Encourage family interactions on a regular basis. There are small and easy ways to accomplish this, like planning at least one activity to do together each weekend, and trying to eat dinner together as much as possible during the week. Weekly family meetings are a good way to avoid complaining and potential conflicts among your children. This is a good time to decide who will do what chore, and who will get what privilege. Especially if your children are close in age, it is a good idea to rotate things like who will load the dishwasher vs. who will clear the table, and who will sit in the front seat in the car.

Tips for Communicating

  • Be actively interested in what your child is saying and listen carefully to what he is saying. This shows him that what he says matters and is important to you.
  • Ask questions while your child is sharing something with you. For example, “what happened when…?” or “how did you fix that problem…?”
  • Listen to your teen's emotions, not just the content of what he is saying, and acknowledge those emotions by asking him how the situation made him feel.
  • Talk with your child, not at him. This shows them that you are interested in having a conversation with him. It is also a great opportunity for you to share your opinions and ideas, which you’re teen, may be looking for but does not want to ask.
  • Ask your child questions that require more than a yes or no answer. For example, don't just ask, “Did you have a good day today?” Ask, “What did you do today?”
  • Take advantage of great opportunities to talk to your child. For example, in the car, your child may be more willing to bring up something to discuss. With your eyes on the road, your teen does not have to make eye contact, which can take away the discomfort he may be feeling.
  • Talk later if need be. If the car drive does not give enough time to fully discuss the matter, set a time later in the day to get together with your child to complete the discussion and solve any issues.

15 Minutes to Listen and Talk about School

Talk to your child every day

Studies show that talking and listening to your child for 15 minutes every day may be just enough to open up the lines of communication, and as a result, your child will look to you for advice and help with difficult choices and decisions, according to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources report. Talking each day sends the message to your child that you care about what they are doing and you are there to support them. This will also set the stage for open communication as your child enters the teen years when communication can become more difficult. Every parent knows that when a child walks in the door and the parent asks, “What did you do at school today?” the classic response is “Nothing”. Getting your child to take part in a meaningful conversation, particularly about school, may be one of your biggest challenges, but it also may be one of the most important things you do. There is no right way or perfect question to start a conversation about school, but below are some strategies you might want to try.

How to listen so your child will talk

  • Stay informed about your child's life at school. If possible, go to the orientation or open house, read the school newsletter if they have one, or attend parent-teacher conferences. The more you know about your child’s school life, the easier it will be to start a conversation about it.
  • Allow your child some down time. Give your child some time when he gets home from school instead of asking him a lot of questions about his day as soon as he comes home. He may need a break from school talk right after being there all day. Instead, let him have a snack and relax a little bit and he may be more likely to open up.
  • Try not to force the conversation. Let it happen naturally; your child may feel more comfortable talking about school in a casual setting, for example when you are cooking or riding in the car or on the bus. Your child may say something about school when you least expect it. If you are listening for this, you can use the opportunity to open the conversation and ask questions about school activities that are meaningful to her because she brought them up.
  • Talk about your day. Talk about something interesting or funny that happened to you that day. Your child may feel like he is being interrogated if all you do is ask questions about school and homework when he comes home. If you start the conversation by sharing something about your own day, this may encourage your child to share something about his day without you even having to ask!
  • Don't talk about only homework and grades. Chances are, this may be the last thing your child wants to talk about, and if you start the conversation about school with this right away, she may clam right up and avoid conversations about school all together. Your child does many things at school everyday and if all you ask about is what homework she has and how she did on her last test or quiz, she may feel like you are nagging her rather than being supportive and showing an interest in her school life.
  • Ask for details. If you ask a question that can be responded to with “yes” or “no”, that is all you will get. Instead, try something that is more probing and that elicits an opinion, thought, or idea on the part of your child. If you ask meaningful question, you will be more likely to get meaningful answers. For example, ask what the best part of the day was, ask about specific events, or ask your child to explain a part of the homework.

How to Listen so Your Child will Talk Part 2

My child won't talk to me

Nothing is more important in your relationship with your child than effective, open communication. To be able to talk to your child, listen to your child, and have your child know that you are there for her is really the most important aspect of parenting. By communicating effectively with your child, you will alleviate much of the stress that comes with being a parent. A big part of being a strong communicator is being a good listener. When your child knows that you will listen to her when she talks, she will be more likely to listen to what you have to say.

Verbal and nonverbal ways to be a good listener

  • Respond to nonverbal communication. This will encourage your child to express his emotions verbally. For example, if your child rolls her eyes, you might say, "The way you are rolling your eyes suggests you don't agree. Am I right?"
  • Find a time and place to talk. When your child approaches you to talk but you cannot right at that moment, let your child know "now is not the right time, but it's important that we talk". Set a time and place to talk later, when you can give your child the full attention she deserves. Set the time and place then, and then make sure you follow through.
  • Give your child your full attention. When you sit down to talk, make sure there are not any interruptions and give your child your full attention. Don't answer the phone, check your cell phone, or watch the game or anything on TV.
  • Avoid interrupting. Letting your child finish what he wants to say shows that you care about what he has to say.
  • Give nonverbal encouragement. Lean forward and make eye contact, nod occasionally, say "uh-huh" or "mmm", and smile when appropriate to let your child know that you are interested in what she is saying.

Helping Your Elementary School Student with Homework

How you can help your child

  • Get to know your child's teacher. Ask your child's teacher about the homework policy and what your role should be in helping with homework, as this may vary from teacher to teacher. Building this relationship with your child’s teacher initially will be helpful if your child is having trouble with a particular subject or assignment. Homework is a way for you to see how your child is learning, and if he is struggling it may indicate a learning difference. His teacher and the school may be able to make arrangements for extra help if it is needed - the earlier your child gets the help he needs, the better.
  • Find a good place to set up shop. Work with your child to find a place to do homework that is comfortable, free of distractions like television, and well lit. Younger children may prefer the kitchen or dining room table so that you are nearby for help and support.
  • Choose a good time to do homework each day. If your young child is hungry or over-tired he will have a difficult time concentrating on homework and they may need some free time between getting home from school and beginning homework, so sometime between dinner and bedtime might be good. Even if your child completes homework in after-school care, you should still ask about or go over his work in order to stay informed and involved...
  • Use an assignment book. Many teachers recommend that students have an assignment book of some kind to keep track of homework, and some schools may even provide one. Helping your child learn to use an assignment book to manage her time will come in handy as she gets older and the homework increases, and this also will help you stay informed about what she is doing in school.
  • Provide support and encouragement. Your child may ask for help in doing his homework, but remember that the goals of homework are to build responsibility and develop good study habits. Help your child think through that tough math problem rather than doing it for him so he learns to work on his own. If your child is especially frustrated or having trouble concentrating, take a short break. • Don't get into battles over homework. If it is a battle to get your child to sit down and do her homework or each night, or every night it is a struggle just to get through one assignment, set up a meeting with your child’s teacher to discuss these challenges and ask for some advice.
  • Acknowledge homework and accomplishments. Post your child's latest spelling or math quiz on the refrigerator, or display her latest art or science project somewhere in the house. Reinforce her hard work by planning special activities once and a while like a movie night on the weekend, or let her invite a friend over to play.

Helping Your Child Get Organized

Creating the organized child : Tips to help your child build the skills to keep her life running smoothly.

  • Decide what is important. Your child may not need to have every aspect of her life organized, so figure out together what activities or times cause the most stress and make sure that routines are established for those. Does the morning routine always cause stress? Plan this out carefully. Is soccer practice driving everyone crazy? Develop a plan for when the gym bag gets packed.
  • Stick to the routine. Once you make plans, be sure that you both follow them. While there will be times when flexibility is needed, following the routine will help your child understand how a routine keeps her life running smoothly. Make this connection for her by saying things like, “Wow, we got to the bus with no problems today, your morning checklist really worked!”
  • Reinforce your child's successes. Acknowledge the times when she is able to stay organized, and help problem solve when the routine doesn't work.
  • Stay involved. Once your child gets a handle on her routine, she will still need your help and support. Make sure to check in with her and ask how the routine is working. This will also make it easier for you to help her brainstorm problems and solutions in her planning as they arise.

How to effectively discipline and guide your child…

How You Say It Is Key

All parents get tired of yelling and repeating themselves trying to teach their children the same lessons and the appropriate way to behave. When it comes to disciplining your child effectively, how you communicate – what you say and how you say it -- are key. Discipline your child with words that are instructive, not destructive, and that are caring, not callous. If your child feels that you respect him or her, your child is more likely to comply.

  • Be calm. Your neutral tone shows your child you are standing your ground. Your calmness is contagious and will help your child calm down.
  • Be confident. If you want your child to have a two-cookie or one-hour TV limit, then establish that those are the rules in your home by enforcing them consistency and with confidence.
  • Focus on your child. Say his or her name when you give a directive and look directly at the child.
  • Praise good behavior. Use specific praise that reiterates the good thing your child did and what it meant. “Thank you for sitting quietly and reading while I dressed your sister. It made us all happy and able to get things done. You are becoming a good reader.”
  • Gentle reminders. Time these appropriately. As your child leaves the bathroom, remind him or her to hang the towel up.
  • Present choices. Instead of always telling your child not to do something, give your child choices such as, "do you want to put your socks on first or your shirt?" Just make sure you only give choices that if your child chooses, you will be comfortable with.
  • Don’t ask, tell. Asking "Are you ready for bed?" leaves the decision up to your child and the likely answer will be "no!" Try "Time for bed!" instead.
  • When…then. Tell your child when he completes an act of good behavior (puts away a toy, finishes homework, brushes teeth), then something desirable for your child will happen (you can have a cookie, watch TV, call your friend on the phone.)
  • Tell your child you will count to ten and explain what needs to happen during the countdown. Kids actually like the 'beat-the-clock' challenge and the countdown also allows you to keep your cool.
  • Invite input. Work out a situation together by asking your child how he or she would solve the problem. Then listen and work together to solve the issue at hand.
  • Say please and thank you. This helps your child use these important terms in his or her own language, but also provides an air of civility and kindness
  • Focus your message and be specific. Direct your child specifically, saying, “Dinner's almost ready. Please turn off the TV, wash your hands, and come to the table.”
  • Brief is best. One or two sentences will work better than a lecture in most cases. “Put your coat on or you'll be late for school.”
  • Use “I” phrases, instead of “you” phrases. Shift your criticism from the child to the child's behavior. Rather than, "You really make me sad when you do not put away your toys" try "I really like it when you put away your toys when you are finished playing."
  • Don’t give too many orders at once. As your child completes a task, then direct him or her to the next one to avoid overwhelming.

Disciplining Children Ages 6-8

Disciplining Children Ages 6-8

Your school-age child is capable of taking an active role in setting the rules for your home and family as well as the appropriate consequences for when he breaks those rules. Involving your child in this process will make him more likely to respect the rules. Hitting and/or yelling at your child are not effective discipline techniques. These actions teach him that violence and yelling are an appropriate response to anger or frustration.

Tips for effectively disciplining your school-age child

  • Be sure “no” is not the word your child hears most often. Positive reinforcement is important. Praise your child for good behavior so he does not see misbehavior as the only way to get your attention. Your child can be sensitive to criticism, making this kind of praise a perfect way to bolster his self-esteem.
  • Remember tantrums still happen. Try to remain calm; if you react to these tantrums your child will see them as a way to get attention. Take a deep breath and calmly tell your child that when he is ready to talk about how he feels, you are ready to listen.
  • Empty threats are dangerous. It is easy to become angry and make unrealistic threats of punishment, like “If that fighting does not stop we are never going on another car trip!” Threats on which you cannot follow through, especially those with the word “never,” will weaken the power of the realistic consequences you may use in the future.
  • Manage discipline. Your child may feel like he has little control and believes that the way to gain power is to misbehave. Constant discipline will only fuel that belief, instead, focus on giving your child positive attention when they are doing something good. This will show him that he can gain power and your attention this way, too!

Good Study Habits Begin At Home

How you can help your child

  • Take an interest in your child's homework. The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement regarding a child’s increased success in school when parents take an active interest in homework. Your interest sends the message that not only is education important to you, but also that your child’s activities in general are important to you, and you are there to support your child.
  • How much is too much? According to the U.S. Department of Education, children in first through third grade should not have more than about 20 minutes of homework each school day. The recommendation for children in fourth through sixth grades is about 20 to 40 minutes a school day, and for children in seventh through ninth grades the recommendation is up to 2 hours per school day. These are just recommendations and the amount of homework your child will have may vary greatly depending on the school and your child’s teacher(s). The best way to know how much homework to expect is to speak with your child’s teacher.
  • Get to know your child's teacher. Attend parent-teacher conferences and ask the teacher about the homework policy and what your role should be in helping with your child’s homework as this may vary from teacher to teacher. Building this relationship with the teacher initially will be helpful if you have any questions or concerns throughout the school year about your child’s homework situation.
  • Schedule in homework time. Although it can be difficult with your own and your child’s busy schedules, make sure homework time is part of your child’s daily routine. Try and find a regular study time each day that works the best for your child. By doing this, you are modeling good time management as well as sending the message that education is important.
  • Find a homework-friendly area at home. This may differ depending on the age of your child or what type of homework he is doing. Ideally, this should be a relatively quiet place with plenty of light. In addition, help your child gather the necessary tools to complete his homework before he begins.
  • Be available. How much you help your child with homework will depend on your child’s age, her teacher, and the assignment. You do not need to hover over your child as she completes her homework and this may even be a distraction for some children; however, assuring her that you are there if she needs you will let her know that you are there to support her.
  • Encourage learning. Even when your child has free time, he can learn from his activities. Reading for pleasure, participating in an after school activity, visiting a museum, helping you with cooking or errands, or even watching an educational program on television are all things that help your child to learn outside the classroom and develop hobbies and interests.

Signs that My Child Is Being Bullied

You might assume that your child would tell you if she were being bullied; however, your child may be afraid to tell you for fear that it will only make it worse. She may believe you will not be able to help stop the bullying, or she may not even recognize that she is being bullied. Signs of physical bullying such as bruises or cuts may be more obvious; however, there are other signs that Kids Health and the Committee for Children report you can watch for that may indicate your child is being bullied such as:

  • Asking often to stay home from school (frequent unexplained minor illnesses such as headaches, stomachaches, etc.);
  • Damaged/missing clothes or belongings;
  • Frequently ‘lost’ lunch or lunch money;
  • Sleeping problems;
  • Bedwetting;
  • Problems in school such as declining school performance;
  • Depression, lack of enthusiasm for friends or activities; and
  • Unexpected changes in routine.

If your child is a victim of bullying, getting him to talk about it can be difficult. The child may be afraid that if they tell you the bullying will get worse, or they may feel ashamed that this has happened to them. Kids Health suggests that drawings or puppets might help younger children talk about bullies; however, it might be more effective to ask older children direct questions such as:

  • What’s it like walk to the bus stop or home from school?
  • What’s it like on the bus ride to and from school?
  • What happens on the playground during recess or before and after school?
  • What happens in hallways at school or during lunchtime?
  • Have any kids in the neighborhood or at school threatened anyone you know?
  • Do some kids you know get emails, instant messages, or test messages that are upsetting, threatening or insulting?

The Committee for Children has the following tips to help you to address the bullying situation:

Encourage your child to report bullying incidents to you.

  • Validate your child's feelings by letting her know that it is normal to feel hurt, sad, scared, angry, etc;
  • Let your child know that he has made the right choice by reporting the incident(s) to you and assure your child that he is not to blame; and
  • Help your child be specific in describing bullying incidents: who, what, where, when. (Look for patterns or evidence of repeated bullying behaviors.)

Ask your child how he or she has tried to stop the bullying.Coach your child in possible alternatives.

  • Avoidance is often the best strategy. Play in a different place, play a different game, or stay near a supervising adult when bullying is likely to occur; and
  • Look for ways to find new friends. Support your child by encouraging her to extend invitations for friends to play at your home or to attend activities. Involve your child in social activities outside of school.

Treat the school as your ally.

  • Share your child's concerns and specific information about bullying incidents with school personnel, such as your child’s teacher or the principal;
  • Work with school staff to protect your child from possible retaliation;
  • Establish a plan with the school and your child for dealing with future bullying incidents; and
  • If you feel the teacher has not heard your concerns you should speak with the principal, if you feel the principal has not heard your concerns you should speak with the superintendent and so on until you feel you have been heard and you have seen the results you are looking for.

Work with your child’s school to identify someone he can feel safe reporting bullying incidents to such as:

  • Adult in charge of a specific activity or area (such as the playground, lunchroom, field trips, bus lines, gym, classroom)
  • Teacher
  • Counselor
  • Principal

Use school personnel and other parents as resources in finding positive ways to encourage respectful behaviors at school.

  • Volunteer time to help supervise on field trips, on the playground, or in the lunchroom.
  • Encourage your child to continue to talk with you about all bullying incidents.
  • Do not ignore your child's report;
  • Do not advise your child to physically fight back. (Bullying lasts longer and becomes more severe when children fight back. Physical injuries often result.);
  • Do not confront the child who bullies; and
  • Do not confront the family of the child who bullies.

I Think My Child Is A Bully—What Should I Do?

Your gut instinct is right; bullying must be taken seriously. There can be serious short- and long-term consequences for everyone involved, not just the victim of bullying.

The Committee for Children reports that:

  • Children who bully are more likely to experience a decline in their peer group status, which becomes more and more important in your child's social development as they enter the teen years; and
  • Children who bully and continue this behavior as adults have greater difficulty developing and maintaining positive relationships.

It can be difficult to hear that your child is bullying others, but denial won’t help the situation. Bullying is often a result of unhappiness, low self-esteem, and emotional insecurity. The first step is to talk with your child about what you have heard. Kids Health recommends a few questions to ask your child that might help get the conversation started and help you understand the situation so you can take appropriate action:

  • How are things going at school and at home?
  • Are you being bullied?
  • Do you get along with other kids at school?
  • How do you treat other children?
  • What do you think about being considered a bully?

Signs that My Child Is a Bully

Given the short- and long-term consequences not only for victims but for the bullies as well, it is important to keep an eye out for signs that your child may be bullying others. The Committee for Children reports that a child who bullies may exhibit some of the following behaviors:

  • Frequent name-calling (describing others as ‘wimps’ or ‘jerks’);
  • Regular bragging;
  • A need to always get his own way;
  • Spending a lot of time with younger or less powerful kids;
  • A lack of empathy for others; and
  • A defiant or hostile attitude (easily takes offense).

Tips to Help Your Child Stop Bullying

  • Schedule an appointment to talk with school staff such as your child’s teacher(s) and the school counselor. School staff that work with your child every day may be able to help you understand why your child is bullying and provide you with some tools to work with your child.
  • Explain to your child that this kind of behavior is unacceptable. Stop any show of aggression you see, and talk about other ways your child can deal with the situation. Establish appropriate consequences for her actions such as taking away privileges and allowing your child to earn them back with appropriate behavior.
  • Examine behavior and interactions in your own home. Is there something at home that is encouraging this type of behavior such as violent media of some kind in the form of video games, television or movies? Are there interactions that may lower your child’s self-esteem such as constant teasing or taunting by a sibling? When you discipline your child, are you focusing on how the behavior is unacceptable rather than your child?
  • Talk with your child about who his friends are and what they do together. Peers can be very influential, especially for teens. If your child is hanging around with kids who bully and encourage bullying behavior, you may want talk with him about getting involved in activities that will help him make other friends.
  • Talk with the parents of your child’s peers about bullying. Discuss your concerns and what you can do together to change the behavior of your children.
  • Model respect, kindness and empathy. You are your child’s role model and she will learn to treat others with respect by watching you.
  • Consider talking to your child’s pediatrician about your child’s behavior. They may have some tips and they may be able to refer you to a mental health clinician that will be helpful in understanding and resolving the problem.
  • Be realistic. Your child’s behavior will not change over night. When you are talking with your child, try to focus on how the behavior is unacceptable, not your child, and show your support for your child with praise for appropriate behavior.
  • Continue to work and communicate with school staff as long as it takes. They should be your allies; working with you to not only put an end to your child’s bullying, but also to prevent any bullying in the school.

School safety tips

  • Talk to other parents in your neighborhood about how their children are getting to school. Create a buddy system, if you can, where your child walks, bikes or takes the bus with another child or group of children. And they all come home together the same way at the end of the day.
  • Practice the route your child will take to school. Help your child become familiar with the route and feel comfortable. This will also give you the opportunity to share and practice the safety tips below.

Talk to your child about these important rules:

  • Your child is never to leave school with anyone she does not know.
  • Your child is never to leave school without anyone without first getting your approval or the approval of the adult in charge, namely the babysitter or a grandparent.
  • If there is a change in who picks your child up at school or how she will get home (or go to another child’s home at the end of the day), you will always discuss it with her beforehand and with her teacher.
  • There cannot be a last minute change of plans to go to somewhere after school without your approval and knowledge or that of the adult in charge.
  • If your child encounters someone on the way home from school and feels uncomfortable, make sure she knows how to get away, find help and keep herself safe.
  • Make sure your child knows that she can and should talk to you about any incident out of the ordinary that she encountered on the way home, especially if she felt uncomfortable about a situation.
  • Make sure your child leaves with plenty of time to get to school so she is not racing to get there and forgets the safety tips you have taught her.

Tips for Walking to the School Bus Stop, Public Transportation, or School

  • Be realistic about your child’s pedestrian skills. Carefully consider whether or not your child is ready to walk to school without adult supervision. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that until children are at least 10 or 11 years old, they do not have the skills to handle traffic. For some children, learning these skills may take longer.
  • Walk the route with your child before school begins to make sure your child’s walk is a safe route. Make sure your child, particularly young children, cross the street where there are well-trained adult crossing guards at the intersection.
  • Dress your child in bright colored clothing and put reflective tape on your child’s backpack or shoes so she will be more visible to drivers, especially in the winter when it may be dark by the time your child returns from school.
  • Find additional safety tips to share with your child for his or her walk to school visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.

Share with your child these safety tips for riding the school bus:

  • Direct your child to stand at least 5 giant steps (about 10 feet) away from the edge of the road while waiting for the bus.
  • No horseplay while waiting for the bus. Instruct your child to be attentive to the traffic and standing safely on the sidewalk.
  • Tell your child she must wait until the bus comes to a complete stop and the driver opens the door before walking up and getting on. The bus’s lights and stop sign are turned on to stop the traffic and make sure children are safe.
  • Direct your child to look both ways and make sure the cars are stopped before she crosses the street to get on or off the bus. Never dart out in front of or behind the bus, even when the lights are on. Make sure it is safe to cross.
  • Once your child gets on the bus, she should find a seat and stay seated. Do not throw things on the bus, no rough housing, no horseplay, and do not stick anything out the windows!
  • Be courteous to the bus driver and follow the rules—it is the driver’s job to keep you safe!

Tips for Biking to School Safely

  • Florida law requires that a bicycle helmet be worn by a person 16 years of age or under who is riding as an operator or passenger on a bicycle or a scooter. Always require that your child wear a bike helmet, no matter how long or short the ride is.
  • Teach your child to ride on the right, in single file if riding with others and in the same direction that the traffic is going.
  • Teach your child to use appropriate hand signals when turning or stopping and to respect and obey traffic lights and street signs.
  • Make sure your child wears bright colored clothes and has reflective material on his clothing, shoes or backpack to make him more visible to cars. Children should never bike after dark.
  • Visit the American Academy of Pediatrics bike safety page at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Website: www.nhtsa.dot.gov/
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