Walking to School….Building Independence in Children
|We live in a very safe community. Stranger abductions are extremely rare. We can continue to keep our community safe by becoming a part of it. Walk around in your neighbourhood with your children. Get to know your neighbours. Have frequent discussions with your children about people you meet. Strangers are not necessarily dangerous just as people we know are not necessarily safe.
Everything we do in life has some level of risk attached to it. We can teach our children to manage the risks of walking in their neighbourhood and help them develop independence. Consider these suggestions.
Teach your children to walk with confidence, their heads held high.
Teach your children their full name, area code and phone number and address. Teach them your name (they know you as mom or dad).
Teach them how to make a telephone call, call the operator, use a pay phone and make a long distance call.
Post all emergency numbers by the phone. These should include 911, your work number and the number of a trusted relative or friend. Teach them to call at once if they feel something is wrong. If they do call for any reason praise them for doing so.
Teach your children the buddy system. Encourage them to walk with someone. Ask your school about the Walking School Bus or visit www.saferoutestoschool.ca
Teach them about the Block Parent Program. Walk around your neighbourhood and point out the signs. Become a Block Parent yourself. www.blockparent.ca
Introduce your child to the crossing guard on your child’s route to school. This is a trusted person they could approach if they need assistance.
Get to know your own neighbourhood by walking it with your child. Point out any areas that could be a problem such as alleys or poorly lit areas. www.icanwalk.ca
Teach your child a code word. Practice it with your child on a regular basis. Any adult wanting to take your child somewhere must know the code word.
Teach your child that screaming is okay. If they find themselves in an uncomfortable situation they are to scream long and hard and try to draw attention to themselves. If approached, always tell a trusted adult.
Teach your child that they are never to accept gifts, candy or toys from anyone without your permission. If offered, always tell a trusted adult.
Teach your child to never approach a car to give directions or to help find something. Adults need help from other adults not children.
Teach this catchy phrase….Say No! Go! Tell Someone!
Listen carefully to your children and believe what they are telling you. Have frequent conversations about their experiences in your neighbourhood. Walking is great exercise, improves concentration, protects the environment, builds community and fosters independence. And remember there is no such thing as bad weather only bad clothing.