Walking to school

Photo by Đàm Tướng Quân

The first day of school is exciting for parents and children. If your child will be walking to school, now is a good time to go for a walk and get familiar with the route together.

 Perhaps your child will be going with an older brother or sister, in which case, include everyone in the walk and ask the older child to be the guide. These tips work well for all young children whether it’s their first year or they are returning for another year of elementary school. 

Talk about safety and crossing the street with the crossing guard if there is one on your child’s route. 

Find interesting things on the walk. Notice which houses have dogs, especially if your child is nervous around barking dogs. Once your child is familiar with what to expect on the way to school they will feel more confident.



Photo by Nathan Legakis

Most schools have playground equipment in the schoolyard that your child can explore before starting school. If there are other children in your neighborhood starting school this year, invite them to join you.

Taking the bus

Photo: Flickr/davef3138

If your child will be taking a school bus, check to see if there is an orientation day before school starts where children are introduced to the bus driver and can find out about riding the bus to school. Many communities do this.

If not, try and arrange to have an older child in your neighborhood be a bus-buddy for your little one. You can also play ‘bus ride’ at home and talk about the rules on the bus.


Backpacks should have wide, padded straps and when fully loaded should weigh no more than about 10% – 20% of total body weight. Younger children should be on the lighter end of this scale. Avoid packs with single straps that go over one shoulder. This puts unbalanced stress on the back that can result in problems.

Lunch and Snacks

It’s a good idea to do a trial run on lunches and snacks, too. You want to be sure your child can open the containers easily and knows how to put lids and tops back on both containers and drink bottles.

Have fun recounting stories to your children about your school days. What did you take for lunch? Did you take a bus? What was the funniest thing you remember about starting school?

Don’t forget to charge your phone the night before school starts. You’ll want lots of pictures!