Much of parenting young children is about preparing and celebrating for milestones. Our job as parents is to balance encouraging our children to be self-reliant, to embrace the development, while still protecting them.
One major milestone is when your child can travel to and from school without you. Although your child might think they’re big enough to go to school by themselves, it can be a real worry for you as their parent to know if they’re truly ready.
How can you:
Travelling alone within in your neighbourhood is a critical step toward a child’s emerging independence – whether that be to school, a friend’s house, or the playground, by bike, scooter or walking. But children first need the skills and knowledge to stay safe before they take that step.
Neighbourhood Watch Victoria’s Travelling Safely platform is an interactive learning journey that parents and kids can do together to help prepare children for safe, independent travel around their neighbourhood. It’s part of our Neighbourhood Watch 4 Kids program.
The e-learning platform provides important information in an accessible way and is full of fun activities – including quizzes, videos, virtual neighbourhoods and drawing – that parents and kids can do together or separately. It aims to:
And the best part is, you can stop and come back at any time.
Head to Travelling Safely and work together with your child to prepare you both for this huge milestone.
Here are 6 things you can do to help prepare your child for travelling around your local neighbourhood without an adult.
You and your child should set an agreed route to and from school to take every day and go with them on a test run. Familiarise your child with dangers they may encounter on the route, like reversing cars, barking dogs, strangers, roundabouts, motorbikes and road crossings by using the Neighbourhood Watch 4 Kids virtual neighbourhood tool.
Fear triggers physical changes, like butterflies in the stomach, sweaty palms or wobbly legs known as “early warning signs”. Each child’s reaction to feeling unsafe is different so ask your child what they physically feel when they’re scared and recognise that feeling.
Draw up a list of five trusted adults and their contact details. These are people a child regards as safe and who they can talk to about anything. It’s good to show a child safe places in the neighbourhood, like a library or police station, if they feel unsafe.
Teach your child to recognise and trust their early warning signs. Then, if someone makes them feel unsafe, they should react by using key words like “stop”, “leave me alone” or “no”, and get away from that person. Once the child is out of danger, they should report what happened to a trusted adult in their personal network or a police officer.
It’s important a child knows their home address, school, contact details for their parent or carer and contacts for emergency services and carries these details in a safe place, like a school bag.
Spend time playing games to test how your child reacts in a series of situations such as being approached by a stranger, getting lost or falling off a bike and injuring themselves. Then teach them what to do.
Neighbourhood Watch Victoria acknowledges the 38 mobs, the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we operate, live, and gather as employees and volunteers. We recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community and pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.
At Neighbourhood Watch, we believe everyone has the right to feel safe and welcome. We are committed to ensuring diversity, inclusion and equity are embedded throughout our organisation – in the work we do, the services we deliver and among our staff, volunteers, and the communities we work with.