As summer winds down, the excitement and anticipation of a new school year fill the air.

Parents and children alike are getting ready for the return to school, whether it's the first day of kindergarten or the first day of high school. While the start of the school year is a time for new beginnings, it's also crucial for parents to ensure their children's safety. Here are some essential safety tips for parents with elementary students, as well as those with middle school and high school students.

Safety Tips for Parents of Elementary Students:

1. Know the Route:

For young children who walk or bike to school, make sure they know the safest route and practice it together.
Teach them to look both ways before crossing streets and to obey traffic signals.

2. Stranger Danger:

Reinforce the importance of not talking to strangers. Develop a "password" your child can use if someone they don't know claims to be sent by you.

3. School Bus Safety:

Review the rules for waiting at the bus stop and getting on and off the bus safely.
Ensure your child knows their bus number and driver's name.
4. Backpack Safety:

Ensure your child's backpack is properly fitted and not too heavy. Overloaded backpacks can lead to back problems.

5. Emergency Contacts:

Keep a list of emergency contacts and allergies in your child's backpack.
Ensure your child knows how to contact you or another trusted adult in case of an emergency.

Safety Tips for Parents of Middle School and High School Students:

1. Online Safety:

Discuss responsible internet and social media usage, including the importance of privacy settings and not sharing personal information online.

2. Peer Pressure and Bullying:

Talk openly about peer pressure and bullying. Encourage your child to report any incidents and seek help if needed.

3. Safe Transportation:

Ensure your child understands the safety rules for walking, biking, driving, or taking public transportation to school.
If your child drives, stress the importance of wearing seatbelts and not using phones while driving.

4. Substance Abuse Prevention:

Have conversations about the risks of alcohol, tobacco, and drug use.
Encourage open dialogue and make sure your child knows they can come to you with any concerns.

5. Emergency Preparedness:

Teach your child basic first aid and emergency procedures.
Discuss what to do in case of a lockdown or other school emergencies.

6. Mental Health Awareness:

Pay attention to your child's emotional well-being. Middle and high school can be stressful, so encourage open communication about their feelings and concerns.
Be aware of signs of mental health issues and seek professional help if necessary.

7. Time Management:

Help your child develop good time management skills to balance schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and personal time.

8. Cyberbullying Awareness:

Discuss the potential dangers of cyberbullying and encourage your child to report any online harassment.
Back-to-school safety is not limited to the elementary years; it's an ongoing concern as children grow and face new challenges. By staying engaged in your child's education and life, you can help them navigate the complexities of school while ensuring their safety. Open communication, trust, and preparation are key factors in creating a safe and supportive learning environment for children of all ages.

WNCTimes August 2023

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