National Walk and Bike to School Day is today! October 2 is all about joining a movement that inspires the community to come together and promote health and safer routes for students to walk and bike to school. So, if you have a child (or children) who might be ready to walk or bike to school, read on to learn more about the benefits of walking and biking to school, dangers of traveling alone, kids’ safety… and more!
Benefits of walking and biking to school
The health benefits of exercise are well documented; having your child walk or bike to school is an easy way to integrate movement into your day, naturally. Think about it: a ten- or fifteen-minute bike ride or walk allows your child to get the heart pumping, as well as to get the arms and legs moving! And if your child has never engaged in walking or biking to school, you’ve automatically increased his or her activity level exponentially each week!
Mental Health Benefits
Being outside and enjoying nature can benefit your child’s mood. Feeling the sunlight, breathing in fresh air, and just looking around outside lets an individual connect with nature and gain a greater sense of well-being. Even if you live in a well-populated or urban area, the exercise itself will increase circulation and improve cardiovascular health. It also contributing to mental alertness. And who wouldn’t want that type of jump-start to the day?
Increased Independence and Confidence
Letting your child build a sense of independence can lead to feelings of empowerment and confidence. Just learning the route can be a confidence-builder, helping your child to feel that he or she knows and understands directions. Plus, developing routines and habits without Mom or Dad’s help can contribute to feeling “grown up” and foster a can-do attitude.
Of course, there are numerous benefits of walking and biking to school. But any concerned parent should also be aware of some of the potential dangers and kids’ safety as well.
Dangers of walking and biking to school:
Letting your child walk or bike to school means that strangers could possibly approach him or her. Before letting your child venture out alone, this is something you will want to discuss with your child. Educate him or her in “stranger danger” issues, and teach your child what to do if a stranger approaches.
From flat tires and wipeouts, to trips and falls while walking, it’s possible your child may have an accident en route to school. And if your child is alone, who will come to the rescue? No matter how athletic or self-assured the child, help him or her understand that accidents can happen – so equip your child with some coping skills in the event of an emergency.
You may have lived in your town for years, but for your child, the route to school may be something he or she never paid attention to before. Sometimes, kids will assure Mom and Dad they know the route, only to get halfway to school and realize they’re lost. Or, if they make a wrong turn, they could end up in unfamiliar territory and lack the directional awareness to regroup. Roadwork and construction can also detour students, putting them on streets they don’t know.
Walking and bike safety for kids
Fortunately, you don’t need to hold your child back. Follow these kids’ safety tips – and consider purchasing one of the best child safety products on the market – to keep your child safe as he or she walks or bikes to school:
Practice the route
Even if you’ve personally walked with your child or driven him or her on the route for days, months, or years, don’t assume your child knows how to get to the school! Practice the route several times, and give your child some challenges: what if a road is closed to bikes or pedestrians? Does you child know an alternate route? Make a few wrong turns and see if your child can reorient himself/herself.
Alert the school for kids’ safety
If the school knows that your child is walking or riding to school, school staff will be more likely to be concerned if your child doesn’t show up on time. Rather than assuming your child is sick (and you just forgot to call), they will know to check with you immediately to make sure nothing happened on the route.
Stay on top of bike maintenance
Routinely check gears, brakes, tires, etc. and replace faulty parts immediately to reduce the chances of a breakdown.
Unless it’s impossible to do so, team up with other families. Set a time for all the kids on your block to meet and walk or ride together. There’s safety in numbers, and the more kids in your group, the better! If your son or daughter only has one other friend to travel with and one of the kids are sick, the other child is going to need to travel alone. The chances of everyone in a group bowing out on any given day, however, are much slimmer.
Purchase a child safety tracking device
Silent Beacon is the leader of child safety products. With the Silent Beacon child safety tracker, your child is never alone. That’s because, with a press of the button on the personal safety device, you and emergency personnel will instantly receive an alert that your child needs help. These alerts can take the form or emails, phone calls, and/or text messages… you decide!
When your child activates the alert, the safety GPS tracker instantly allows your child’s contacts to locate his or her location in real-time. This saves time, when every second counts.
To set up this child tracking safety device, simply purchase the affordable Silent Beacon, pair it with the free app, input up to seven contacts (including emergency personnel), and customize your features, like two-way communication. Then, clip the Beacon to your child’s backpack, on a keychain, or on a lanyard. The device is lightweight and small enough to travel anywhere your child goes, so you never need to worry.
No matter where you live, it’s important to ensure your kids’ safety as they travel to and from school on their own. With Silent Beacon – and by following our kids’ safety tips – you can raise confident, independent children who enjoy a healthy activity before and after school each day. Now, they can walk and bike with peace of mind – and your peace of mind, too!