By Sally Robinson and Keith Bly
A new school year is about to begin. As you prepare your child for his or her time in the classroom, remember there is more to getting ready for school than just buying supplies.
If your child will be walking or riding a bicycle to school:
• Make sure he wears a helmet that meets safety standards.
• Map out her route to school before the first day.
• Teach your child to obey all traffic signals and signs and to look left, then right, and then left again for moving vehicles before he crosses the street; to cross at an intersection; and to never dart into the street from behind objects, such as bushes or parked cars.
• Make sure your child knows to look out for cars, because even though adults in cars should be sure to look out for children while driving through school zones, this does not always happen.
• Don’t allow your child to wear headphones or play hand-held video games while walking to school.
If you drop your child off at school:
• Stay until she makes it into the building. Don’t feel pressured to drive off just because other cars are waiting.
• Make sure you know who lives along your child’s path to school.
• Parents can visit their local police station to see if there are any registered sex offenders along their child’s route.
Other safety issues to consider when sending your child back to school include:
• Buying jackets and sweatshirts without drawstring around the neck or hood. Drawstrings can be caught in car or school bus doors or on playground equipment.
• Checking playground surfaces at your child’s school to make sure there is a 12-inch depth of wood chips or other padding.
• Making sure that, if your child rides a school bus, he knows to remain seated at all times, to keep the aisles clear, to not throw objects, to not shout or distract the driver, and to keep his hands and arms inside of the bus.
• Teach your child that the driver has a blind stop and to be careful when boarding or exiting the bus.
• Teaching your child to resolve problems without fighting.
• Talk with your child about other ways to work out problems, such as talking about the problem, walking away from the problem or telling an adult.
• Asking your child’s school if the computer equipment is monitored and if the computers are equipped to block access to explicit sites.
• Finding out about safety and emergency plans in your child’s school.
• Checking your child’s school for potential hazards, and make the school’s administration aware of any problems.
Sally Robinson is a clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston Children’s Hospital and Keith Bly is an assistant professor of pediatrics in the UTMB Children’s Emergency Room. This column is not intended to replace the advice of a physician.