Getting to child care safely is all about thinking about how you can integrate safety messages throughout the day with kids no matter what their age. Luckily we don’t live in Indonesia where we have to deal with negotiating a collapsed bridge but walking across the road can be just as dangerous. Walking to child care or catching public transport, even crossing the road to child care or school are all great opportunities to talk to your little ones to build in physical activity to their day and a great chance to talk about road safety. For parents with kids under 5. We all know those little monkeys are built for speed, agility and unpredictability. But the older the child doesn’t always mean wiser. Kids have difficulty telling where sounds are coming from and often expect traffic from the wrong direction. This is true even for older children aged 11 or 12. Young children have trouble judging the speed of cars reliably and often follow older kids and if they get in trouble, they freeze instead of getting out of the way. So here are our top tips on getting to kindy, child care or school safely.
Walking to child care or school our top 10
- Get the kids to stop, look listen and think. Explain words like fast, slow, near and far. Talk about signs and traffic lights and the safe places to cross. Point out dangerous places and where not to cross – near curves and where things might hide children from view.
- Practice it yourself. Kids pick up the good and the bad behaviours of parents, they are little sponges for information so make sure you not only teach them road safety but do it yourself. They will mimic you later in life – all your bad habits will be seen by all of us peeps!
- Hold your child’s hand Always be with your child around roads and cars. They are too young to cope alone – even up to 12 years!!
- Always cross at pedestrian crossings or traffic lights, wait for the lights, and look in every direction to check there are no cars coming or jumping the orange light. To help your child understand about when and where it’s safe to cross, explain what you’re doing. Listen for revving, screeching and talk about fast cars and if they can stop. Just because the green man is flashing it does not mean it is safe to cross.
- Start talking about road safety while your child is still in the stroller. For example, ‘Uh oh, car coming. Better wait until it’s gone before we cross’. Keep talking about road safety as they grow to help them assess risk by asking them things like: Where is the safest place to cross this road? When is it safe to cross the road? What do we look for when crossing the road? What sounds are we listening for when crossing the road? Can we hear a siren, revving, screeching of brakes? Then what should we do now? Red means stop but green means go if it is safe.
- Choose a pram or stroller that meets the Australian Standard AS/NZS 2088:2000, has at least one or more parking brakes with a red brake lever, has a wrist/tether strap which should be used to prevent the pram from rolling away with an easy-to-use five point harness (shoulders, waist, through the legs) that is used every time.
- Avoid poorly made scooters and bikes and buy a helmet and safety equipment and insist they wear solid closed in shoes. Teach kids to use their bikes and scooters in a safe space before you let them loose on the walk to child care.
- Keep them close Kids are pretty excitable and once they feel they have wings they take off and they push you like a personal trainer to keep up. Make sure if they are on scooters and bikes they keep close to you and don’t go speeding off