Thinking about children’s road safety.
Posted by: Sue Atkins
How can you start helping your child begin to understand the basic principles of road safety?
Explore the advice on the award-winning film, Street Safety with Teigan, which was made in consultation with the government’s THINK! Road Safety Campaign.
Thinking about children’s road safety
Child’s Eye Media’s Educational Director, Linda Mort, has this road safety advice for parents: ‘Children should never be allowed out on the roads without an adult until at least the age of eight or nine. It can take until age 10 or 11 for children to develop sufficient skills in judging distance and speed, although each child develops differently. (Child Accident Prevention Trust ).
‘Developing crossing the road skills cannot be rushed, but should be a very gradual process, carefully managed over the years, and little by little enabling your child to become more independent. Because, of course, of the enormous volume of traffic on today’s roads, it is understandable that some parents try to ferry their children everywhere by car. Sadly, this can lead to some children never learning to cope with roads until they start secondary school, or even later. Lacking in experience and confidence, they can take dangerous risks, with obvious consequences. In the long run, it really is best to try and resist the temptation to wrap children in cotton wool.’
Ways to approach your children’s road safety awareness
Hold my hand
First and foremost for pre-schoolers is an understanding of the vital importance of always holding a grown-up’s hand. ‘Hold my hand’ is one of the key messages of the Children’s Traffic Club series of books, designed to be used with three and four year olds and their families. The books are free to all families in London, Scotlandand many other authorities – trafficclub.co.uk/parents
Reinforce this message by making ‘hand in hands’. Together, draw round, on card, and cut out, a hand each. Put your child’s ‘hand’ on top of yours and attach them at the top with a split pin. You could decorate them with felt-tipped pens to look like two styles of gloves. Organise other members of the family, including grandparents, to make ‘hands in hands’ with your child, too.
The Green Cross Code
With young children, focus on the core steps:
Find a safe place to cross
Stop at the kerb
Look right again
If the road is clear, cross – don’t run!
But keep looking and listening for traffic as you cross.
The four key steps – finding safe crossing places, stopping, learning left and right and the ability to keep looking and listening whilst crossing, will only be developed fully over the years.
A third of all children hurt crossing the road said they didn’t stop before stepping off the kerb, and as many said they didn’t look (Child Accident Prevention Trust) Children love ‘teaching’ teddies and dolls – lay a skipping rope on the floor as the ‘kerb’, and quickly transform a doll or teddy into a string puppet by tying a piece of string to each arm and tying the other end to a small ruler. Just listen to your child instructing their ‘puppet’ to ‘stop at the kerb’!
A simple but effective way to get children to take ownership of safety messages is to encourage them to make up their own songs – just a repeated refrain and a nursery rhyme tune will do. Try ‘Hold my hand’ to the tune of ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star’ – repetitive, but it works!
Let Teigan help
Children love to watch other children, and you will be surprised at how much your child will learn from six-year old Teigan and her friends on the gold award-winning Child’s Eye View of Keeping healthy, staying safe DVD. The companion films on the DVD are about what to do if you get lost; safety at the seaside; safety with fire and fireworks; and healthy living, including eating your 5-a-day. With all the safety codes at your fingertips on the inside cover there really is nothing else on the market like this fun and child-friendly DVD.
‘This is Kira’s favourite DVD. She even chose to take it with her on a weekend away so she could share it with her friends. It has given her a real interest in safety issues and is perfectly pitched to engage and inform young children. I would highly recommend it to all parents,’ says Dr. Alice Redhead, mother of Kira, aged three.