This post is brought to you by the Transport Accident Commission (TAC)
As a parent, part of my job is to keep my kids safe, but it’s not possible to wrap them in cotton wool and lock them away from the world, even if sometimes I’d really like to!
Instead, I need to find a balance between keeping them safe and, still letting them learn, explore, and experience life. I can’t stop them from ever getting hurt, but I can teach them the skills and information they need to help keep themselves safe.
Road safety is high on the list of skills I want my kids to learn and while it may seem a little scary, research suggests that young children can learn skills to help keep themselves safe on and near the roads, and parents can help their kids learn a variety of skills and behaviours that will stand them in good stead and keep them safe for years to come.
There are lots of resources out there to help you tackle this subject with your kids and it can even be fun!
Here are five important ways parents can help kids learn about road safety:
Do you know what the rules are for child restraints in your state?
What about the laws for riding bikes?
Did you know that you should never allow your kids to play in the driveway or around parked cars?
Before you can help your kids learn about road safety you need to know the road rules yourself. You need to know the common risks and how to prevent them, as well as what and how to teach your kids about road safety.
That may seem a little overwhelming but there are many resources available to help you:
- Road Safety Education Victoria has lots of information for parents, caregivers and teachers.
- Child Restraint Evaluation Program website has information about choosing and fitting child restraints
- Kid Safe Victoria has great information about driveway safety, pedestrian safety and more.
A quick search will help you find resources and information about the laws and regulations for your state and country. And once you are informed you can begin sharing all the information and skills with your kids.
Be A Role Model.
We all know that being a good role model is one of most important ways we can teach our kids. Children see and take in what we do much more than what we say… so the best way to teach our kids how to be safe and responsible road users is to be one ourselves.
Wear your own helmet when you are riding your bike… and your kids will be automatically wear theirs.
Always cross roads carefully, obeying the rules… be a good example for all children who may be watching.
Drive safely and respectfully… the kids in the back seat are future drivers and they taking it all in!
Make it fun!
Do you know what a ThingleToodle is?
My kids had great fun trying to work out if ThingleToodle, TAC’s road safety mascot, was a pig, or maybe a bat, or perhaps an alien?? Before the video had even begun the kids were already engaged by the fun little guy, and that means they were more likely to take in and remember the messages he shared.
The same theory applies to the fun content of the videos. The Helmet Rap is a fun and catchy tune that gets stuck in your head, and makes wearing a bike helmet easy to remember as well as a fun and positive thing for young children.
Check out some more of the fun ThingleToodle videos with your kids, they are a great way to start conversations learn and about road safety for both parents and kids.
Learn Through Play.
Children learn best when they are engaged in play, when they are playing with things and exploring ideas that interest them. One of the best ways to teach young children about road safety is to make it part of their play.
Imaginative play is one simple way to include road safety information and skills into your child’s play.
Take some cars out to the sand pit or use our free printable roads and set up your own streets and neighbourhood. Add some road signs and people and let your child explore and play.
We created some free printable Australian road signs and accessories to go with our printable road set. The set includes some common Australian road signs, traffic lights, pedestrian crossing that fits on the printable roads, and some paper sign poles to hold up the signs.
With our printable roads, some cars, wooden people and these new accessories there is even more opportunities for play and lots of ways to role play and reinforce ideas you’ve already talked about or seen on the ThingleToodle videos
You could role play crossing the road. Where would be a safe place to cross? What do you need to do before you cross?
Or role play other safety messages. What do you need to do when you get into the car? Is this is a safe place for this person to play?
Make it Real.
Now that you’ve watched some fun videos, talked about road safety and had a play, another great way you can teach kids to be safe road users is to go out and practice the real thing!
Take your kids for a walk around your neighbourhood. As you walk, notice the things that help keep us safe, and practice some of the skills you’ve learned like how to cross the road safely.
Put your helmets on and go for a bike ride. If there is no safe place to practice bike safety where you live you may be able to visit a local Traffic School , or you could even draw your own roads with chalk onto some concrete.
And of course, every time you get into the car you can discuss and put into practice lots of road safety information and skills.
What do you worry about most when it comes to your kids and road safety?
How do you help your kids learn to be safe on and around the road?
The free printable road signs are based on Australian standard road signs. The information provided is based on regulations and standards for Victoria, Australia. Please check the road rules and standards for your own state/country.