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Suburban Nature Stolls: Safety First

June 9, 2010

Safety First

When preparing for your nature walk, always start off by taking time to review some important walking rules.  We don’t have sidewalks in our neighborhood, so I give my kids a quick quiz to be sure they remember to walk on the correct side of the street.  We also talk about how important it is to stay near mom at all times and how cars can’t see us easily if there’s a curve or a hill.

As we get into our walk, they become curious and eventually one of them staggers out ahead or lags behind.  If they start to get too far away from me, our code phrase is “Tag Up!”. We’ve practiced this and when I say shout it, they know they have to come “give me five”.  I’ve found that this is a fun way to remind them they’re getting too far away without lectures or nagging. Sometimes I say it when they’re not too far out just for fun and they always come running with a huge smiles.

Single file walking has been wonderful for us, too.  Again, having no sidewalks, when I (or they) see a vehicle in the distance I say yell out, “Fall In!” and they all scamper into a single file line in front or behind me.  This has been a wonderful training tool that allows us to “group walk” so we can talk to one another, but at the same time, it offers the safety of being out of the way quickly for traffic purposes.

How do you encourage safety when you are out and about with your children?

Photo courtesy of amber.kennedy.

This post is linked to from We Are That Family’s “Works For Me Wednesday” blog carnival.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 15, 2010 8:27 pm

    I am so pleased to see that your safety rules are about avoiding getting hit by cars, which is one of the most common ways kids are hurt or killed, rather than about protecting kids from kidnapping which is so much less likely than many people think! Cars are my biggest safety worry.

    We live in the city, so there are sidewalks on almost all streets, but there are also LOTS of cars most of the time, and nearly every day we see drivers doing dangerous things like running red lights, making illegal turns, or not signaling. My son is 5, and I’ve been taking him out almost every day since he was a few weeks old.

    I think he started learning safety skills when he was a baby riding in a sling carrier. He could feel when I stopped and started walking, and he could see my face as I watched traffic. The first time he walked outdoors on his own feet (15 months old), he stayed on the sidewalk until he reached a corner, stopped at the curb, and looked around–he didn’t quite know what he was looking for, but he knew that’s what you do!

    It did take some teaching to convince him to stay right next to me when crossing streets. He didn’t want to hold my hand all the time. I told him that drivers may not be able to see a short person, but he didn’t really get it. Finally I told him, “If you can’t see the top of the steering wheel, the driver can’t see you.” We walked around our own parked car so he could see how few places were safe for him; then I carried him on my hip so he could see how many more places are safe for a taller person. He was under 3 years old then, but he got the point.

    I “think out loud” a lot so he can learn the skills I use to decide when it’s safe to cross the street. For example, “That car isn’t signaling, but it’s moving to the right like it might turn…. Yes, the wheels are turning to the right, so stay back…. Oh, wait, he saw us and he’s waving us to go ahead.”

    I grew up in suburbia and did a lot of walking in places where nobody else was walking. I think it’s a great experience to give your kids! Exercise, nature, and adventure, too!

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