I can still remember the summer of 2016. Our darling daughter was just about to start school and I was faced with the question of how to let her go – something which is a very important event for parents everywhere. First and foremost, we were concerned with how we should prepare our child for her walk to school. In the end, up to then we had always (with a few exceptions) ferried our little one through the traffic in the car.
Admittedly, I definitely have a tendency towards being a helicopter dad – I always want to know that my child is safe. However, this is with the knowledge that I am not doing my child any favours in doing so. There was one thing that I wanted to make sure to avoid though: jamming up the teachers’ parking spaces or blocking the bus lane like a (staggering) number of other parents.
Now a bit of time has passed, I have to say that we managed our daughter’s way to school really well. So well that we soon had no fear letting our daughter walk on her own. These five tips helped to ensure that our daughter was able to master the walk to school independently and safely after a while.
Tip 1: the shortest route is not always the safest
The shortest route to school is not always the best option. Small detours are often safer. This is because potential hazards, such as major crossings or areas with obstructed views, can be bypassed. Generally speaking: road crossings should be kept to a minimum for children.
Tip 2: practice the way to school in good time
In order to get their child used to the school walk in good time, parents should practise the school route together with them before they start school. This also includes talking to the child and carefully pointing out possible hazards to them. Of course, that should not mean making them panic. However, children generally better understand the links between things when they are explained.
Tip 3: accompany your children
At the start and for as long as parents have the feeling that the child hasn’t really got the hang of the walk to school, they should make sure to accompany them. In doing so, parents can also check whether their child is still doing it how they have practised. They can also check whether there are new hazards, such as building sites or the like. Accompanying the child has another advantage: parents can also check whether other children present distractions. At a later stage, parents can also occasionally watch their child unnoticed.
Tip 4: schedule enough time
Parents should always ensure that their child leaves the house in good time. In this way, it is possible to avoid lapses in concentration that arise when children have to rush to get to school.
Tip 5: always set an example
This should be obvious to everyone, but this isn’t always the case. Parents should always set an example when it comes to road traffic. What’s more, this applies not only to walking to school together, but also when travelling by bike or car. Parents should always lead by example.
This tip is also tried and tested: a role reversal is fun and provides additional safety benefits. The child assumes the role of the adult here, takes the parents to school and explains possible hazards. In this way, parents can identify in which areas the child still has problems.
What's more: according to the ADAC automobile club, numerous studies have now shown that conquering the walk to school independently has a number of positive effects on childhood development. This includes, among other things, improved concentration in lessons and increased physical fitness. Not a bad side effect, right?