Getting to School: Safe and Happy Tips for Children

8 min read

Last Modified 7 June 2024 First Added 7 June 2024

Author Heather

Getting your child ready for school in September involves much more than just packing lunch boxes and practicing their communication skills. How your child gets to school will also play a big part in their daily routine and set the tone for the day ahead.  

Whether you are close enough to walk your child to school, cycle, or drive, ensuring your child remains safe and comfortable will be key to setting them up to have a good day.  

Here are some tips and tricks to help you prepare for your exciting new school journey.  

Walking to School  

Mother and daughter walk through a pathway.

Exploring Walking Routes  

Walking to school and starting the day off with fresh air is a great way to incorporate exercise into your everyday life, while giving your child the opportunity to have a clear mind before starting their day. If you live within walking distance of your child’s school, consider making this a part of your morning routine.  

You can prepare for the morning walks by testing different routes with your child to have an understanding on how long this journey may take you with your little one. You may need to consider adding an additional 5 to 10 minutes to your journey to ensure you are taking the easiest yet safest route.  

Not only is walking to school healthy, but it also adds some quality time for you and your child to discuss topics to do with school and get them excited for the day ahead. 

Understanding Different Road Surfaces  

Teach your child to be aware of different road surfaces whilst walking, this may include gravel, concrete, and asphalt. Each have their own challenges that may result in them being slippery or uneven in certain sections. By preparing your child to watch where they are going, this can prevent any unnecessary falls or injuries.  

A good rule of thumb would be to have your child walk on the inner side of the pavement, furthest away from the road, to give them plenty of room if they were to take a little tumble or fall.  

Road Safety to Keep in Mind  

Understanding road crossing rules is crucial for children walking to school. Introduce your child to the concept “Stop, Look, Listen and Think” 

  • Stop at the curb.  
  • Look both ways and in all directions to see if any cars are coming. 
  • Listen for the sounds of traffic.  
  • Think about whether it is safe to cross.  

As children tend to learn by an adult’s example, it is important to display safe behaviours such as ensuring you cross at a zebra crossing, traffic light, or with crossing guards such as the lollipop ladies or men.

Cycling to School

Two young children cycle together on their own bikes.

Choosing the Right Bike 

Depending on your child’s ability and size, there is a wide variety of different toddler bikes that may be suitable for them. Ensuring you have a good bike that is in good condition will ensure they stay safe while cycling to school. Young children should be able to touch the ground with their feet when sitting on the saddle for maximum control, and all parts, especially brakes and tires, should be checked on a regular basis.  

Essential Gear  

For safety to be at the forefront, it is important for your child to have the appropriate gear to keep them protected whilst cycling. Gear could include a helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, and possibly a light on their helmets for the seasons that get dark quite early.  

As school uniform are usually dull or dark colours, some reflective bright clothing such as a jacket may be best for the darker days to ensure your child remains bright and seen when cycling.  

Even though baggy clothes can be seen as an investment as children will grow into them, be cautious of loose clothing when cycling as these can get caught in the chains or wheel spokes. We recommend tucking any loose clothing under socks or in the summer wearing shorts.   

Safe Cycling Practices  

Here are some basic tips to reminder your child whilst cycling:  

  • Always cycle on the right-hand side of the road, in the same direction as traffic.  
  • Use hand signals to indicate any turns.  
  • Follow all traffic signs.  
  • Be cautious of cars reversing out of their driveways and people walking on the pavement.  
  • Always Stop, Look, Listen and Think before cycling and when stopping at junctions or coming up to the end of the road.  

Planning the Route  

For cycling, choose the safest route that will keep you and your child away from heavy traffic or main roads. Most towns and cities have designated bikes lanes, it would be best to stick to these where possible or cycling through a park if that is an option for you.  

Be sure to practice the route outside of school to test your child’s ability, comfortability, and timing.  

Locking Your Bikes 

Most schools will have an area to lock your bikes, check this with the school beforehand so you are not left with having to guide both your child’s bike and your own back home. We recommend having a sturdy bike lock to be able to lock your child’s bike at school, ready for you to pick them up.  

Driving to School  

Child sits in a toy car steering the wheel.

Car Safety Essentials  

If you cannot walk, or cycle to school and driving would be your ideal route, here are some key points to bear in mind for car safety:  

  • Your child may need a car seat or booster seat, be sure to use the most suitable one depending on your child’s age and size. Read more on our blog ‘How to Choose a Car Seat’. 
  • Teach your child the importance of always wearing a seatbelt correctly.  
  • Keeping child-lock on but reminding your child not to play with the door or windows while driving.  

Be sure to test the drive to school and consider different times of the day that may be busier to drive in due to school drop off and pick up times.  

Planning Your Route and Parking  

When planning your route ahead of time, you’ll be able to avoid last minute rushes. Planning your journey will ensure you are taking the most efficient route, but keep in mind that some schools have specific policies for pick up and drop off: 

  • Some schools have designated spaces where parents are able to park and walk their children into school.  
  • Some schools may have drive-through lanes where staff assist children getting in and out of their vehicles and walking them into class.  
  • Some schools may not have any parking spaces, leaving you to park on the road outside of school, take this into account when leaving at busier times as you might find it more challenging to find a place to park safely.  

Have a look at the school’s policy to enjoy a smooth pick-up and drop-off routine.  

Accompanying Kids to the Classroom  

As the above, many schools have their own policies and procedures regarding parents accompanying their children into the classroom. Some may allow parents to bring their children into the classroom, hang their children’s coats up in the cloakroom, and wave them goodbye before exiting. While other schools may have parents waiting at a specific point and their children walk themselves into class, and the same goes for pick-up, they will await at their designated point and their children will come to them once the teacher has seen that you have arrived.  

Knowing these procedures will prepare both you and your child for a smooth and stress-free morning and after school routine.  

Handling Primary School Separation Anxiety  

Making the transition into primary school is a wonderful big leap for young children, some find this change normal while others experience some separation anxiety. It is important to help build your child’s resilience to change while maintaining a positive mood in the mornings to help them adjust for their big day. Here are a few key strategies to help:  

  • Routine: Establishing routines for your young ones will help them develop a sense of stability and security.  
  • Positive Reinforcement: Talking positively about their day, school life, and exciting activities they are yet experience will keep them look forward to something with your validation. 
  • Fun Goodbyes: Creating a special goodbye ritual that can make them feel loved, secure, or have a giggle is a great way to stay connected to your little one and make the parting journey a little easier for them.  
  • Reassurance: Providing your child with a constant reminder that you will be there everyday to pick them up from school.  

Overtime, this will become normal for your child and a part of their daily routine. These small steps help them feel more comfortable and happier about going to school knowing they have you waiting for them after they have learnt, played, and enjoyed themselves. Read our guide for Starting School: What Parents Need to Know’ for more tips and useful information.  

Preparing for your child to go to school, especially via transportation, involves planning routes and keeping up with consistent routines. Whether you choose to walk, cycle, or drive to school, teaching your child all the safety measures and what to expect on their journey will make their mornings and afternoons easier and more enjoyable.  

By teaching road safety, planning school routes, and addressing separation anxiety, you can help your child with this big milestone, ensuring they feel comfortable, well-prepared, and safe.  

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About the Author

Heather

Our most experienced copywriter, Heather Aqel uses her broad knowledge and astounding vocabulary to write in-depth and enchanting pieces about fun activities, tips and tricks, and our products.

Heather also moonlights as a children’s author, writing magical stories to inspire and bring wonder to little ones.

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