Back to school is just around the corner! Many of us are shopping for school supplies, picking out the perfect outfit for the big day and making last-minute trips to the hairdresser.  

The first day of school is often synonymous with excitement, as children look forward to seeing their friends, using their new schoolbags and meeting their teachers. However, it can also be a time of anxiety for some children, and parents, especially when it comes to starting a new school.  

Be sure to take the time to reassure your child and prepare them for this new year, particularly in terms of safety. 

1 – Scout out the area with your child 

Back-to-school is an exciting and emotional time for parents and children alike. To ensure that everything runs smoothly and safely, it’s vital to prepare our children for their return to school. That’s where scouting comes into play. 

Organize a preliminary visit to the school 

Many schools organize pre-school visits, especially for kindergarten and pre-kindergarten students. Some schools may even offer the chance to meet with the teachers. A visit to the school can be a calming experience for you and your child.  Don’t hesitate to seize this opportunity! It’s the perfect time to discuss and ask questions. 

Make sure they know the route to school 

If your child is starting at a new school, it’s important to prepare them a few weeks before the start of the school year by walking or driving to the bus stop or school with them. We suggest you do this several times. 

  • Establish the route they will take and make sure they avoid isolated or poorly lit areas. 
  • Teach your child to cross the road safely, and preferably at intersections with crossing guards. 
  • Encourage your child to always walk or bike with at least one friend – this is the buddy system. If you know some of your child’s friends, don’t hesitate to ask their parents beforehand how best to organize group rides (set a time and meeting point, exchange cell phone numbers with other parents, etc.).  
  • If your child takes the bus, make sure they know the bus number and stop. 

2 – Teach them the rules of safety and good conduct 

Before the big day, it’s important to remind children of these essential rules to ensure their safety and well-being inside and outside school. 

Remind them of the safety rules 

To keep your child safe throughout the school year, it’s a good idea to set up daily rules that they should follow. Be sure to remind them of the following rules before they start school: 

  • Know their full name, address and telephone number.  
  • Ask permission before going anywhere (teacher, lunch supervisor, educator, etc.) and stay within sight of the adult supervising them. 
  • Never get into a vehicle without your permission 
  • Never converse with adults that may approach them. General rule: adults should ask other adults for help, not children! 
  • Keep a safe distance of at least three giant steps between them and anyone who tries to approach them or makes them feel uncomfortable. 
  • Ask for help on the way if you need it (e.g., a reliable neighbour, a restaurant, a police station, etc.). Ensure they know about safe places near school and home. 
  • Use a secret family password for emergencies (late pick-up, change of route to school, etc.). 

3 – Play, discuss and reassure for a smooth back-to-school  

By using role-playing games, talking openly and offering reassuring words, you’ll give your child the confidence to tackle this new stage of life with serenity and enthusiasm. 

Try using “What if” scenarios 

This method is highly effective, as it enables your child to find solutions and develop their analytical skills. This will help them to make better decisions, especially if an exceptional situation arises and no adult is present to guide them. This technique will also help your child develop self-confidence.  

Here are a few suggested scenarios: 

  • You’re walking home from school and someone in a car stops to ask you for information. What do you do?” 
  • It’s raining and you’re waiting for the school bus. The mother of a student in your class offers to drive you home. What do you do?” 
  • You’re walking home from school and a neighbour invites you into their house to see their kittens. What do you do?” 
  • The road you usually take home from school is blocked. What do you do?” 

Teach your child to ask themselves the following three questions whenever a safety issue arises: 

  • Do I have a good feeling? 
  • Will my parents know where I am?  
  • Will I be able to find help if I need it? Teach your child to ask themselves the above 3 questions that will help them to make safe decisions. It is important to explain to them that one NO! = don’t go! 

These situations are not designed to make them feel guilty. Don’t hesitate to congratulate your child when correct answers are given and explain mistakes when they aren’t. You can also ask: “What could you do instead?  

A well-prepared back-to-school means a safe back-to-school! 

Going back to school requires a great deal of organization for you and your child. The first few days can be difficult, with a multitude of new information upsetting the peace and quiet acquired over the summer. Try to prepare your child mentally a few weeks in advance, and don’t hesitate to readjust certain things in the days following the start of the school year. Encourage your child to tell you about their day and remind them you are always there to talk. Remember that you’re doing your best, and that readjustments throughout the year are not a bad thing. Don’t panic! Everything’s going to be fine. Stay positive and encouraging with your child, congratulate them on their efforts and achievements, big or small. A positive attitude will boost your child’s self-confidence. Adopting a daily routine makes learning and following instructions at school easier. Feeling secure at home will also help them to be more confident at school. 

By following these tips, you’ll be helping to ensure your child has a safe back-to-school, and to create an environment conducive to their development and growth. 

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