Don’t just tell your child to stay out of the street -- teach him the rules of the road and how to cross the street safely. A young child of 5 years won't cross the street without you, but a child in elementary school may (mistakenly) believe that he's ready to cross a big street without you. He needs to know how to be safe and what to watch for before he crosses a street.
Incorporating games into the lesson plan adds an element of fun and excitement. The game of “Red light, Green light” is a classic game. Simply line the kids up while you stand several feet away. If you say "Green light," the kids run toward you. If you say, "Yellow light" the kids should walk slowly toward you. If you say, "Red light,” the kids should stop – freeze exactly where they are. Alternate between commanding “Red Light, Green Light and Yellow Light” until one of the players reaches you. That player is the winner. You could line up several different paper traffic signs, one at a time, and have your child guess what it is. On your next trip to the store with your child, play I-Spy with road signs. The Department of Transportation and Department of Education also has plenty of interactive games that focus on child road safety (link in Resources).
A craft activity can turn this valuable lesson into a tangible object that your child can play with or even keep. Take some thick card stock and dowels and transform them into several different types of road signs or traffic lights. You can put a booklet together of street signs or roadway color sheets. If your child can read, add some kid-friendly safety tips.
Since children learn a great deal through play, turn his next play session into a learning experience. A chest of dress-up clothes can turn into a safety activity. Encourage your child to try on reflective clothing or clothes with reflective tape on them, put on a hat, wear gloves, and hold a pedestrian crossing sign. Let him pretend to be a crossing guard and help others safely “cross the street,” which could be your living room or driveway. You can use a bin of play cars, a roadway play rug, and wooden road signs for a learning experience. Help your child set up his roadway with signs. Both of you can practice safely driving the cars, having them abide by the road signs as posted.
Observing Street Safety
Head out of the house to talk about street safety. Go for a walk around the neighborhood while you discuss sidewalk safety, pedestrian crossing rules and point out road signs with your child. Walk the route to school, and count the number of times you have to cross the road. If your child is young, encourage her to hold your hand while walking along, especially at crosswalks.
Night safety is very important for road and street safety. Explain why people should wear brightly colored clothing and carry flashlights when walking or biking outside when it is dark. Talk about how important it is to be visible to drivers, especially at night. Stop, look and listen is a valuable lesson for children to learn, so go over this lesson many times, especially during a night safety talk.
Driving and Biking
As you drive along in a car, talk about the rules that you follow as a driver. Also, explain that not all drivers follow the rules and that is why it is up to each person to be aware of their surroundings. Next time you go bike riding with your child, talk about why it is important to follow road signs, and demonstrate proper road safety techniques for him to follow.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Reducing Childhood Pedestrian Injuries
- Education.com: Teaching Traffic Safety To Children
- Association for Safe International Road Travel: Youth Road Safety Education
- National Center for Safe Routes to School: Tips for Parents and Other Adults for Teaching Pedestrian Safety to Children
- National Center for Safe Routes to School: Tips for Walking Safely to School
- Kids on the Move; Traffic Safety Education for Primary Schools
- Safety on Wheels Activity and Coloring Book; Safe Kids World Wide
- Department of Transportation: Over 7 Play
- Department of Transportation: Stop, Look and Listen
- Department of Education: For Children and Young People
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