The morning drop-off is a familiar scene outside primary schools around Victoria. Car doors slamming, kids running off to say hi to their friends and traffic jams, endless traffic jams.
In a world of ‘stranger danger’ and convenience, VicHealth research shows more than 70 per cent of parents who travel with their kids to school drop them off by car, even those living less than 750 metres from their school.
Added to this, less than a fifth of kids are getting the physical activity they need, and 1 in 4 are above a healthy weight.
Introducing active travel, such as walking, riding or scooting to school, can help tackle this.
It’s also a great way to help kids be more independent and confident, and foster social relationships with their friends.
So how do you start?
Top active travel tips for parents
- Set a good example by walking or cycling to local places, including school.
- Part way is ok! If the walk to school is too far, park a few blocks from the school and allow your child to walk the rest of the way.
- Keep an eye on your child’s behaviour and independence and look for signs of readiness.
- Help your child become familiar with the local neighbourhood and identify the safest routes (e.g. where there are safe road crossings)
- Practice and reinforce the skills your child needs to travel safely, such as riding a bike and knowing the road rules.
- Slowly build independence by letting your child do things gradually. You could start by driving part way and allowing your child to walk the rest.
- Connect with families in your area – could your children walk together?
- Make a plan with your child about strategies for when things go wrong, like getting lost, if a stranger approaches them, or if they or their friend gets hurt.
- Agree on a plan with your child for the transition towards independence, and set milestones and boundaries
- Talk to your school about their Walk to School plans – do they have safe walking routes already in place?