Speaking of school...He loves it! You can just see it in his face when I ask him about his day. He loves his teacher and is making many friends. It's just what I dreamed it would be for him with one exception.
A week ago today Liam went missing at dismissal. The third day of school. Like, gone for 40 minutes type of missing. I stopped breathing for those 40 minutes.
I went to pick up him up (we do drive up pick up and only that) and the teacher couldn't find him when I pulled up to the pick up spot. My heart jumped and I was asked to pull up to the handicap spot and wait until they swept the school. It was merely a minute when I heard over the intercom asking for Liam to come to the office. That's when I went into panic mode. First, I knew he didn't know what the office was and if he did, he wouldn't be able to find it on the third day of school.
I don't think I can go into all details here without getting really upset again. So, all in all some of the kindergarten teachers found him in a nearby neighborhood with 3 other older students who were trying to help him find his home. He slipped through the protective system and now I personally pick up from the office every day. We found him and that's all that's important to me. He wasn't hurt and didn't really know that he was lost. It wasn't his own teacher's fault but the fault of the system they have in play at the school. We've tried not to make a big deal about it, but definitely have reevaluated what we've taught him about safety and what we haven't.
That's what I wanted to spend my time today in giving you safety pointers to teach your children. I had to learn it the hard way that I didn't teach Liam some of these things, but only assumed that he would know better. If I can make it easier for you then that's one less child that has a chance to go "missing".
Now, I've googled this topic and I found sites with 71 tips for child safety and 42 things your child needs to know. Those of us who have children know that we could go on and on with all of the things they NEED to know, but I'm only going to highlight some of the basics. These are not from any statics or official safety site. Just from one mom to another. Use your best judgement and do what's best for your child.
18 months-3 years
- Start teaching your child who they are. Teach them their full name.
- Sing to them your phone number. It's proven that most people remember information better when it's in song form. Make up a little ditty to help them know what it is.
- Teach them their birth date. Kids usually love to talk about their birthday so this one should be an easy one.
- Have them memorize their address. Break it up. First have them memorize their street address then city and state once they've gotten down the first part.
- Before your child starts school, drive (or walk) back and forth to the school frequently so they can get their bearings. Point out land marks or signs. Always go to and from the same way when they are in the car.
- Find out what the school's policies and rules are for safety and talk about them with your child at home.
- Be literal with your child when it comes to a plan. Give them simple and easy instructions of what will happen when you drop them off and pick them up.
- If you are going to pick them up or someone else will pick them up from school, give them a heads up if you can. Children thrive on routine and that alone makes them feel safe.
- DO NOT write your child's name on their back pack. It's easy for any stranger to read it and call them by that name. Make a small tag to hang off a zipper or handle that not easy to read when standing above the child. Better yet, use something like a luggage tag that has a fold or flap over the information. Simply write the child's name, phone number where you can be reached and their address.
- Talk to them about who they can go to in the school if they need help. Teachers, principal, office staff and nurse. As a mom, get to know the other teachers in your child's grade. Introduce your child to them.
- Unless they walk home with you or siblings, stress to your child that they are NEVER to walk out of the school with the exception of recess or they are with their whole class.
- Assume your child knows nothing. They only know something because you've taught it to them. This does not mean that you treat your child like they're stupid.
- Once you taught your child a principle, fact or tip, reinforce it by asking them questions about it. Quiz them every now and then to keep them on their toes. Make sure it's sinks in.
I truly could go on and on and I would love to hear all of your safety tips that you've maybe learned over the years. Please, please, please take the time to teach your children what you think they might need to know before they start school. Even if it seems like overkill, better to be safe than sorry. Not to be dramatic, but serious...it literally could be life or death.