Learning bus schedules and meeting new teachers. Shopping for super-sweet backpacks and getting overdue haircuts. The smell of fresh notebooks, erasers, and No. 2 pencils. Ah, the joys of back-to-school season!
The start of a school year is an exciting time. But when life gets hectic, things get missed, so ask yourself: With all the shopping and prepping and scheduling, have you had time to sit down and discuss back-to-school family safety?
A recent U.S. Census report shows 7 million of the nation’s 38 million elementary and middle school-aged children are left home alone regularly. Even if a child isn’t home alone, they may walk alone to and from school, the bus, or an after-school activity.
With a few simple instructions and a little bit of practice, children can feel confident being home alone for a few hours outside of the school day. Also, parents will have peace of mind knowing their child is prepared in case of an emergency.
So carve out some time during these final days of summer to prepare your kids with school-time safety lessons. Here are some of our favorite tips for families as the kids return to the classroom.
Ease into your routine
When you have kids, schedules are everything. Some kids handle changes in routine better than others, but a new schedule can stress anyone out. One sure-fire way to make a major routine change feel chaotic is to dive into it with no planning and preparation.
Establish your child’s school routine in advance to help things run more smoothly. Ensure they feel confident with everything they need to know, including where they need to be, how and when to get there, and how to get home.
Help your child memorize the following:
- Family cell phone numbers
- Home address
- Their teacher’s name
- Bus schedule and number
- School arrival and dismissal times
- What to do in case of severe weather
Important: Make sure they understand that this information is private and should not be shared outside of the family.
Fancy a test-run? Walk your child through their morning routine, including getting ready, eating breakfast, and walking to the bus stop together. If your child will be walking to school, take the walk together before the first day of school.
Choose a common area in your house to post schedules for sports, after-school activities, and other events.
A shared, up-to-date calendar will help everyone keep track of schedule changes and the whereabouts of family members. As a bonus, it’s a fun way to make sure there’s plenty of family time on the agenda!
Create check-in times
Establish a firm check-in time after school or at other times when your child may be alone (traveling to an after-school activity or sports practice). A simple text or call will give you an extra layer of reassurance that your child is safe.
Create a process for missed check-ins and explain them to your child. This way, they understand that if they don’t reach out or respond in a certain amount of time, you will alert the school and/or the police.
Does your child arrive home from school while you’re at work? If you have a Guardian Protection smart home security system equipped with a video doorbell, you can receive mobile notifications when they get home.
Start a family text chain
Remember that group text before your cousin’s wedding that you couldn’t figure out how to remove yourself from? Use that technology for good!
If your children have cell phones, set up a family text message chain. Like the shared calendar, this is an easy way to keep everyone connected and on the same page. It’s great for logistics, ensuring everyone receives the same information at the same time (Bitmojis welcome and encouraged!).
Secure your home
In the rush to get everyone to work and school, it’s easy to forget to lock up, set the alarm system, or secure other entrances to your home. If you use a smart home security system, maximize the tools and technology available to ensure your home is secure after leaving.
With the Guardian mobile app, you can remotely arm your system, close the garage door, turn off the lights, adjust the temperature, and so much more. It’s a helping hand that brings you peace of mind, whether you’re carpooling to baseball practice or working a late night.
Take time to ensure your child is comfortable with the basics of your monitored security system. Teach them the code and the importance of not sharing it with anyone. Whether your child uses a key or keypad to enter the home, practice entering and exiting together to boost their confidence.
We mentioned earlier that you can receive mobile alerts via the video doorbell when your child arrives home. Guardian Protection’s touchscreen IQ2 panel gives you another way to see that your child is home safe and using your alarm system correctly.
The IQ2 has a built-in camera that can snap a photo when disarmed at the panel. You can receive a time-stamped photo of your child disarming your system via text message.*
Back-to-school is a time to focus on education, new friends, and activities — not whether your child is safe at home or at an extracurricular. You’ll breathe easier after spending just a few hours preparing your kids for being alone — well before they find themselves in that situation.
*Picture notifications for the IQ2 may require additional fees. Please contact 1.800.PROTECT (1.800.776.8328) to learn more about this feature.