First Day of School

Is your child ready for his first day of school

As you and your child prepare for the first day of the new school year, use this checklist to help make sure you have taken care of the necessary tasks, learned the information you need and are both ready for the first day of school.

  • Caring for Your School-Age Child : Ages 5 to 12Is your child registered? (If they attended the same school the previous school year, they should already be registered.)
  • When is the first day of school?
  • What time does school start?
  • How is your child going to get to school? If your child is biking, does he know the school rules for bicycles? If they are walking for the first time, with whom will they walk? Have you reviewed safety precautions with them, regarding traffic and strangers? Check out our safety checklist to learn more about how to educate your child for safety on the go.
  • Does your child know their teacher’s name?
  • What will their daily schedule be like?
  • Will they need to bring a snack? What kinds of snacks are allowed and encouraged? Do they need to bring something to drink, or can they buy something? Will water be available?
  • What time is lunch? Can your child buy it at school, and how much will it cost?
  • What clothes will your child need to wear? Are there any restrictions on what can be worn? Will they need a different set of clothes for physical education or art classes?
  • Does your child need to bring pencils, paper, notebooks and other supplies? (Often, the teacher will announce these requirements on the first day.) Does your child have something in which to carry his books and supplies back and forth to school? Will they have a place (besides their desk) to keep their things at school?
  • Have you filled out all health forms or emergency contact forms that have been sent home?
  • Have any new health problems developed in your child over the summer that will affect his school day? Does the school nurse know about this condition, or is an appointment set up to discuss it?
  • If your child will need to take medication at school on the first day, have arrangements been made for this?
  • Does your youngster know where they are going after school (e.g. home, babysitter)? Do they know how they will get there? If you will not be there when they arrive, do they know who will be responsible for them, what the rules are and how to get help in an emergency?
  • Does your child have your work and home telephone numbers in their backpack?


As you help your child get ready for the new school year, look back on your own school days at your youngster’s grade level. If you had some negative experiences, make certain you do not project them onto your own child. For example, the mother of a third-grader reflected upon her own year in the third grade and recalled having problems with reading that her teacher confused with “laziness” and “motivation problems.” The mother realized that because of her own experience, she had been passing negative expectations on to her child. When she recognized the message she was conveying, she made an extra effort to put her old feelings aside and approach her youngster’s situation afresh and optimistically.

Expectations can be a powerful influence on the kind of school experience your child has. Even when they are communicated in casual conversations, they can have a significant effect on your child’s outlook. Past experiences can also influence a child’s outlook and expectations. While he may have had some problems in the previous year, you and he should try to approach the new school year with a clean slate and a positive attitude.

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School Bus Safety Guide

A few facts:

  • School buses are designed to be safer than passenger vehicles in avoiding crashes and preventing injury – Today’s school buses are built with safety in mind. They are tougher, cleaner and more diligently maintained than ever before. School bus drivers are required to receive special security and medical training, and undergo regular drug and alcohol testing to provide a safe ride for your child. And school bus traffic laws are strictly enforced.
  • School buses are the safest mode of transportation for getting children back and forth to school – Students are about 50 times more likely to arrive at school alive if they take the bus than if they drive themselves or ride with friends. But did you also know that your child is much safer riding the bus than being driven by you? Add in the environmental and financial benefits, and it’s hard to find a reason to send your kids to school any other way.
  • School buses keep an annual estimated 17.3 million cars off roads surrounding schools each morning – Imagine a world with less traffic, cleaner air, and more affordable transportation. These are just some of the benefits that school bus ridership provides. While school buses are one of the safest ways to send your kids to school, there are many good reasons that make them a growing choice among parents for their children’s school commute.

Safety First

While riding the bus is much safer for your child than riding the car to school, there are still a few risks worth taking into account. In fact, in 2009 alone, over 20,000 people were injured nationwide in accidents involving busses.

In fact, the greatest risk of all, is not riding the bus, but getting on or off the bus. Children need to be especially careful around the bus’ danger zone – the 10 feet in front, behind and on each side of the school bus.

Here’s what you should teach your child about school bus safety:

  • Always walk to the bus stop. Never run.
  • Walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, walk on the left facing traffic.
  • While at the bus stop, wait in a safe place away from the road. Do not run and play while waiting.
  • Never speak to strangers at the bus stop and never get into the car with a stranger. Always go straight home and tell you parents if a stranger tries to talk to you or pick you up.
  • Wait until the driver says it is safe to board the bus, then get on one at a time.
  • Once on the school bus, go directly to your seat and sit down facing forward. Remain in your seat facing forward as long as the school bus is moving.
  • If you drop something while getting on or off the school bus, ask the driver for help.
  • If you need to talk to the bus driver: wait for the bus to stop, raise your hand, and call the driver’s name.
  • Keep all your loose items inside your backpack or book bag.
  • Be respectful of the school bus driver, and always obey his or her instructions.
  • Never throw things on the bus or out the windows. Never play with the emergency exits.
  • Once you’re off the school bus, walk five giant steps from the front of the bus, cross in front of the bus when the driver indicates it is safe, stop at the edge of the bus – look left-right-left again for traffic, and if there’s no traffic, cross the street.

There are also a few rules to be aware of as a parent:

  • Have your child wear bright, contrasting colors so they will be more easily seen by drivers.
  • Make sure they leave home on time so they can walk to the bus stop and arrive before the bus is due. Running can be dangerous.
  • Walk your young child to the bus stop and have older children walk in groups. There is safety in numbers; groups are easier for drivers to see.
  • Make sure your child stands at least 10 feet (5 giant steps) from the road while waiting for the bus. The child will then be out of the way of traffic. Have younger children practice taking 5 giant steps to become familiar with 10 feet.
  • Teach your children to secure loose drawstrings and other objects that may get caught in the handrail or door of the bus as they are exiting.
  • Give your child a note or follow the school’s procedures if you would like for the child to get off at a stop other than the one they are assigned. The driver isn’t allowed to let a child off at another stop without written permission.
  • If you meet your child at the bus stop after school, wait on the side where the child will be dropped off, not across the street. Children can be so excited at seeing you after school that they dash across the street and forget the safety rules.

Dealing with School Bullies

Bullies. Every school has them. They taunt, tease, shove, and beat up other kids. Indirect bullying — where kids are ignored or excluded — can be just as devastating as a physical assault, say experts.

While as many as one-half of children today experience pain at the hands of bullies, parents may still believe that schoolyard bullying is simply a rite of passage, something that must be endured and then becomes a distant memory. But being the victim of a bully can have long-lasting psychological scars, says Kim Zarzour, author of Facing the Schoolyard Bully.

Kids may be afraid or ashamed to tell adults about a bully. Some parents don’t intervene because they think kids should work it out on their own. What can you do to help your kids protect themselves from a bully?

Encourage your kids to tell you, a teacher, or another adult when they’re having a problem. It’s important for them to let someone know early, before the situation escalates.

Explain the difference between tattling and telling. Tattling is when you report something just to get someone in trouble. Telling is when you report that you or someone else is in danger.

Insist on the buddy system to and from school and in the neighborhood. Children give each other support, and a child who has friends is less of a target. “This can be hard to do when kids don’t have a lot of friends,” says Jeannette Collins of the New Jersey Center for Assault Prevention. “Parents should encourage their kids to reach out to other kids. That way they can watch out for one another.”

Consider enrolling your child in a self-defense course. “People think the training will escalate the violence,” says a mother whose son was bullied. “But it’s just the opposite — it stresses self-discipline, self-control, and self-esteem, not aggression.”

Let your school know your safety worries. Suggest closer supervision in hallways, bathrooms, lunchrooms, under stairways, and on the playground. Your kids have the right to feel safe at school, so find out what your school’s policies on bullies are.

Ask the school or PTA to sponsor safety training workshops and to initiate a peer mediation program, in which staff and students are trained in nonviolent conflict resolution. For more information, contact the National Center for Assault Prevention, or the National School Safety Center.