It is that time of year again, school is back!! As the school doors open for the year that means the traffic will get busier on our streets and parents and children will deal with more stressful times.
To help you with a safe commute for you, your children and those around you, and tips for children and parents transitioning back to school be sure to follow these safety tips.
1) Observe School Zone Speeds
Although you should always obey posted speed limits, it is especially important during the school year. Children crossing the road on their way to and from school can easily get distracted and step into harm's way. Slowing down and being vigilant is crucial to keeping kids safe. Children are often out throughout the day at recess, lunch, and for certain classes, so it's important to drive slowly throughout the day.
2) Obey the Crossing Guard
A crossing guard is there to keep children safe. If you come up to a set of lights, and the light turns green, but the crossing guard still says stop, follow their direction and not the traffic light. There might be a child still crossing the street that you can't see.
3) Watch for Darting Children
Kids are small and easily distracted, and for drivers, this can create dangerous situations on the roads. Be vigilant and alert behind the wheel. You never know when a small child might step out from between parked cars or off a sidewalk. Your fast reflexes might be needed to prevent an accident.
4) School Buses
Most mishaps take place outside the bus. Make sure children don't arrive too early at the bus stop where they can wander. Make sure children wait well away from the road and stay back until the school bus makes a full stop and the doors open. Explain that they must walk at least three metres (10 feet) away when crossing in front of the bus so the driver can see them. When driving your car near a school bus please note that extra caution is needed. You shouldn't pass a school bus when the signal lights are flashing (as children are often crossing the road at that time) and drive slowly as a general precaution.
5) Sharing the Road with Bicyclists
On most roads, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles, but bikes can be hard to see. Children riding bikes create special problems for drivers because usually they are not able to properly determine traffic conditions. The most common cause of collision is a driver turning left in front of a bicyclist.
- When passing a bicyclist, proceed in the same direction slowly, and leave plenty of space between your car and the cyclist
- When turning left and a bicyclist is approaching in the opposite direction, wait for the rider to pass
- If you're turning right and a bicyclist is approaching from behind on the right, let the rider go through the intersection first, and always use your turn signals
- Watch for bike riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling; children especially have a tendency to do this
- Be extra vigilant in school zones and residential neighborhoods
- Watch for bikes coming from driveways or behind parked cars
- Check side mirrors before opening your door
Children and Parents Transition
Even before the pandemic, children’s mental health was a public health concern, and levels of anxiety were on the rise. The COVID-19 pandemic has meant additional stress, fear, and worry for many families. Worries about sickness, finances, and isolation, coping with grief from loss, and having less outside help have made parenting more stressful.
- Make sure their child has a daily, predictable routine, with regular times for healthy meals, naps, and night sleep at home. Having a rested body and knowing what to expect at home helps children cope.
- Connect with other parents who have children in the same program and can provide information and make them more comfortable with the program.
- Talk with teachers about the best way to separate from their child at the start of the day—brief goodbyes are often best.
- Try to stay calm and reassuring during transition—using a calm voice, with a relaxed face and body to let their child know that they wouldn’t leave them if the child were not safe and protected.
- Talk with their child about what to expect and help them with strategies to manage stress and cope with worries, and review positive parenting tips to help children with feelings and behavior.
Parents with Concerns Can
- Take care of themselves during stressful times so they can be better equipped to take care of others.
- Find resources to learn how to promote resilience and reduce anxiety in their children.
- Talk to a healthcare professional if their child’s symptoms of anxiety or behavior problems are severe or persistent.
- Contact a mental healthcare professional for parent training and support so parents can help their child.
- Find resources for themselves if they are sad, worried, or stressed.
Have a safe school year and lookout for one another!
Resource: Government of Canada
Resource: CDC: Children’s Mental Health