In recent weeks, we’ve talked quite a bit about how to ensure safety as kids head back to school. But one area that hasn’t really been covered is how to encourage children’s wellbeing when they’re headed home from school and when they get to their house. This is especially important for those parents who trust their children to walk and then stay home alone until parents get off work. If you fall into this category, or if you know there might be a few days when your children may have to be by themselves for awhile, consider some of the tips on hand from a new report.
First, your kids should know the proper way to walk home, and they should know not to deviate from the route you’ve laid out for them. Such a route should minimize instances of crossing the streets and exposure to fields, lots, or sparsely populated areas. You want your child to be on well-frequented streets so that they can yell for help or run if there’s an emergency or if they’re accosted by a stranger. It’s also wise to reach out to other trusted parents in your neighborhood to see if there’s another schoolmate your child could walk with.
Your child should be loaded up with the necessary phone numbers so that they can call you when they get home or if they otherwise need something. You might even put together a laminated card that has you and your spouse’s cellphones and work numbers, as well as those of siblings and trusted neighbors and family friends. You should also stress to your children that they shouldn’t hesitate to call 911 if they feel endangered. These same phone numbers can be posted in a highly visible area in the home as well.
When your kids get home, there are certain steps they should take. First is to lock the door behind them and then verify that other doors have also been properly barred. When that’s taken care of, have your child call you to alert you to the fact that they’ve gotten home. Your child should also have an understanding of what activities are appropriate and which ones are not. It’s up to you to decide if you’re going to allow your child to have friends over.
If your children get hungry, make sure they know what they can make and what should be avoided because it’s too dangerous given their age. Also stress safe phone etiquette. When someone calls and asks for you, a child should know not to say that you’re not home. Instead, ask them to tell the person on the line that they’ll take a message. Again, if they ever feel unsafe, tell them to dial 911, especially if a stranger is trying to get into the house.