Truth be told, many of the things that I’m going to talk about in this blog were listed under things that should be covered in kindergarten by many of the sources that I’m using to compile my standards.
I have two problems with this. One is that I don’t want you to think od safety or health issues as a checklist that you’ve taught. Safety needs to be taught over and over and over again. Anyone who has been in a serious emergency and survived or helped someone else survive, will tell you that the ability not to panic was a key factor in the outcome. Secondly, I hope you don’t wait until kindergarten to start teaching these things.
Homeschoolers, or at least the ones I’ve met, have traditionally felt like they didn’t really need to teach safety issues. After all, what could happen if I or their father are with them 24/7? At the risk of insulting someone who actually believes this I must say: you are ignorant. Please don’t make the mistake of not bothering to teach safety skills to your kids.
I am not suggesting that you have to pull out a curriculum. But, safety needs to be part of an ongoing dialogue in your house. You don’t have to scare your kids into thinking that around every corner there is a loony waiting for them or that at any given moment their world could spontaneously combust. But you do need to let them know that it is important to be prepared, that there are personal rules regarding their own bodies and that discussion and dialogue is open.
I could likely write four or five blogs and address each individual area more thoroughly and if there’s interest, I certainly will do that. (You all by now, know that I happily take blog requests.) But for now, let’s just quickly address several areas of safety that you should be talking about.
Street & Car Safety
One of the “blessings” of living in the inner city is that my kids constantly have the opportunity to practice walking around. They know how to cross the street. They know to look both ways, and they are constantly reminded to do so because we are always outside. Talk about looking both ways and not playing in the street. Talk about buckling up and why you do it (hey, it could even be a physics lesson!). Talk about what makes a safe driver and an un-safe driver because after all it won’t be that long before you’re handing over your car keys.
Do your kids know who strangers are? Do they know which ones not to talk to? Do they know why you are allowed to talk to strangers but they are not? All of these questions are important to answer for your children. Teach your kids who to look for that’s safe. Identify people in uniform: police officers, fire men, and for us we include subway transportation workers as well as the staff that works at the park. Role play with your kids and point out to them that strangers often seem nice.
Lost and Found
It is important that you teach your children to be with you at all times in public. I’m sure as parents we all do this. However, things do happen and it’s easier than you think to lose a child in public. Does your child know your first and last name? Do they know there’s? Do they know your address & phone number?
My oldest daughter carries a backpack wherever she goes. While she’s really not allowed to trot far without us, if she should ever become separated from us there is a card in her backpack that tells her our address, our cell phone numbers, as well as the phone numbers of a few friends that could help out in an emergency. She knows that if she forgets the information, it’s on that card for her use.
Do you and your kids know how to get out of your house in case of a fire? Do your kids know to crawl on their hands and knees and not walk? Do they know to use the back of their hands to test a door knob for heat rather than their palms? Of course this is not the only thing to cover, but it is worth your effort to cover a basic escape route from your home and give the “what to do in case of a fire” speech for your house.
Calling For Help
You should teach your kids how to dial 911. More importantly, if 911 DOES NOT reach emergency services in your area–you need to teach them the number to know. But don’t assume that because you tell them that they should call 911 that they know what to do.
You need to teach your children under what circumstances they should call 911. On top of that you need to role play with them so they know things like not to hang up, or how to give their address.
In addition to a picture of a phone with the numbers 9-1-1 colored in, posted on our fridge, we also have a chart that lists a few numbers the kids can also call in case of an emergency if they’re not sure what to do. This is helpful for babysitters as well, but in the event that something happens to me and I can’t get to the phone my kids know exactly what to do.
First Aid & CPR
I am a firm believer that everyone who is able to should be certified in first aid and CPR. But even children can practice First Aid skills and you should make a point to teach them. Obviously if you have young children, they will not be able to perform CPR, but teaching basic first aid for cuts, bruises, burns and recognizing emergencies, in my opinion is essential. At our house, we start first aid in kindergarten.
Why so early? In many emergencies, several people actually stand around and watch. The “first responder” is generally not the first on the scene but the first person who is able to remain calm enough to know what to do.
In our various outings, I have had to respond to emergencies 4 times. . .one for a car accident victim, twice for people with seizures and one for someone who fell unconscious. I can’t say that I really saved any lives. I can say that my kids have learned at an early age that First Aid and CPR are important skills to have.
Make safety education a part of your health curriculum. You don’t have to spend an hour a day on it. Not even an hour a week. But your constant reminders to your kids that this information is important may help save a life one day!