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Wait, look, listen, go: Safety first on the way to school

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Not long before your child goes to kindergarten for the first time? You’ll no doubt have already started to prepare for that big day: picking out a schoolbag, buying a lunchbox, selecting the right outfit. This big day for your little one should be well planned. But in all the excitement, don’t forget about that daily journey to kindergarten or school. We provide you and your child with tips for practicing the journey to school and minimizing the threat from road traffic.

“Ding dong!” – the bell rings, that’ll be my best friend Ramona coming to pick me up for the walk to kindergarten. I put on my high-visibility sash, kiss mom goodbye, and head off with my friend: straight ahead until we reach the pedestrian crossing, a turn to the left, and then up the hill – from where we can already see our kindergarten. Although the distance to school was barely 500 meters, our journey would often take us 20 minutes. Chatting away to my friend, counting the number of snails that had emerged after the rain, and making plans for the afternoon were all an integral part of my school years – along with everything else that occurred on the way to school.

Walking to school

In Switzerland, the average journey to school for a child is ten minutes. Nonetheless, one child in every 10 is taken to school by car. In the city, this figure is even higher. Given that 180,000 children start school every year, that makes for quite a few cars clogging up the roads in front of schools. Parental nervousness probably explains much of this phenomenon. But the experts are unanimous: Children who walk to school are more self-reliant and better able to perceive dangers.  

Obviously your little one will need assistance as they navigate roads as a pedestrian for the first time. And children who are starting kindergarten should be encouraged to practice the journey to school well in advance. Below we have put together a few tips that will help you and your child prepare for this new phase in life.     

Tips for a safe journey to school

  • Make sure your child is wearing clothing that is as bright and contrasting as possible. Reflecting elements (e.g. on the backpack) improve visibility.
  • Explain the the dangers of road traffic to your child. Discuss dangerous situations with your child so that they can react appropriately when these arise.
  • Before starting school, the journey there should be practiced together as often as possible. Choose the safest way to school for your child, not the shortest. 
  • Talk to other parents and arrange walking groups, which makes the journey to school even more fun.
  • Build in plenty of time for your child’s journey. That way they won’t be under time pressure, and will remain attentive.
  • The tried-and-tested mantra – “wait, look, listen, go” – will help your child remember the rules.

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