It is almost time for the kids to head back-to-school. Where we live school starts the first week of September, but I know that for many of you the kids are heading back right now. What’s that old saying about time flying when you’re having fun? I think whoever wrote that was referring to summer break. Back to school here means back to walking to school. I am a HUGE proponent of getting kids walking to school. There are so many benefits from walking with kids – physical health, mental health, social, family connection, disconnect with technology, connection with nature – seriously, I could go on and on. However, I know that for many families distance keeps kids from walking, for others it’s a simple lack of time. Well, I have some helpful ideas and tips for walking kids to school. Maybe this year will be the year that walking to school becomes part of your family’s routine.
10 Super Helpful Tips for Walking Kids to School
Safety first ~ We live in the city and walking to school means crossing a busy road. It is super important to teach kids about walking safety before heading out. Here are a few simple rules, (1) stop before crossing a street, (2) look both ways before crossing a street, (3) hold a parent’s hand while crossing a street (4) stay on the sidewalk, and (5) only cross the road at an intersection.
Timing is everything ~ There is no doubt about it walking to school will take more time then driving to school. Kids, especially younger kids, like to toddle their way to school. Leaving early is the only way to get to school on time.
Test the route ~ If this is your little ones first year at school, or if you are starting at a new school, take a few trial runs before the school year begins. Walk the route and time your trip so you have an idea of just how long the walk will take.
Comfort is important ~ If you are planning on making walking your regular routine, it is important to think about the comfort of your child on her walk to school. Make certain that her shoes are appropriate for the walk, you have proper outerwear and lighten up the backpack load. Uncomfortable kids are going to be complaining kids. The complaints might have absolutely nothing to do with a lack of desire to walk to school.
Walking can be fun ~ If your child isn’t that interested in walking try making the walk fun. When my girls were younger and they didn’t want to walk we played a couple of walking games, (1) search for items along the walk that start with each letter of the alphabet, or (2) count cars, how many Honda, Volkswagens, Fords do you see?
Emphasize the connection to nature ~ A walk to school is not only about commuting. A walk to school can be an adventure. As we walk we are always on the lookout for cool things, like an enormous spider web or a caterpillar on the sidewalk. The discoveries made on a walk are truly endless.
Create a neighbourhood walking pool ~ This concept was new to me, but as soon as I heard about it I thought it was awesome. Take the idea of the “car-pool” and apply it to walking. If you live too far from the school, or don’t have the time to walk the kids, try making a walking pool. Arrange to drop the kids off at a friend’s home, who lives closer to the school…the children can walk together to school from the closer home. Maybe you can take turns with another family.
Walk home instead ~ The morning might be way too busy, but don’t forget about the trip home. Whether it’s walking home from school or daycare, an early evening walk is a great way to unwind from a busy day.
Try a trial ~ Walking to and from school everyday would be fantastic, but if everyday just won’t work for your family, try just one day a week. Pick a day and give it a try. Our school encourages kids to walk to school on Wednesdays. Every day counts.
Start Kids Early ~ Kindergarten is the perfect age to start walking kids to school. Get your child used to the idea of walking to school and they will walk all the way to graduation. Kids will gain confidence and independence over the years and next thing you know they’ll be walking their kids to school.
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