Preparing Children to Walk to School

With proper preparation, children should be able to travel to-and-from school independently and with ease.

 Walking to school is possible in any type of weather.

Backpack information:

  • Buy a backpack with wide, adjustable straps
  • Encourage your child to bring home only items that are needed
  • Consider using a backpack with wheels

Preparing for weather

There is a saying, "There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing".

It is important that children are adequately and properly dressed to fit the specific weather in each season.

Rain:

  • Wear a rain coat and rubber boots
  • Carry an umbrella

Snow/Cold:

  • Warm/thick jacket and snow pants
  • Hat and mittens 
  • Scarf or neck-warmer
  • Winter boots
  • Send an extra pair of socks or mittens (staying warm/dry is important)

Sun/Hot:

  • Wide-brimmed hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Sunscreen

For helpful information, visit The Weather Network School Day: School Day Forecast


Safety

We live in a very safe community and abductions are extremely rare. We can continue to keep our community safe by becoming a part of it.

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.

Walking

Walking to school is an excellent way to incorporate physical activity, protect the environment, build a sense of community and allow children to socialize with one another:

  • Teach your children to walk with confidence
  • 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 your children the buddy system. Encourage them to walk with someone. Ask your school about the Walking School Bus or visit the Active & Safe Routes to School website
  • Introduce your child to the crossing guard on their route to school. This is a trusted person they could possibly approach if they need assistance
  • Get to know your own neighbourhood with your child. Point out any areas that could be a problem such as alleys or poorly lit areas.
  • 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
  • And remember, there is no such thing as bad weather only bad clothing 

Biking

Biking to school as a means of active transportation can be an enjoyable and practicable way to promote physical activity. If you and your child decide that biking to school is the best option, you may want to talk about:

  • Is their bike properly maintained? 
  • Do they have a helmet and proper safety accessories/equipment (lights, reflective clothing, etc.)?
  • Do they have experience riding their bike? 
  • Where will they store their bike at school? Does their school have an active transportation policy or secure storage for bikes?
  • What route will your child bike to school? This route may be specific to the child and the neighbourhood
  • Do they have adequate knowledge of pedestrian and traffic safety?

Visit the Region of Waterloo Public Health's Safety & Injury Prevention page for more information on cycling safety and using protective equipment including helmets.


Links and Resources

eSolutionsGroup