Teaching sidewalk safety may seem intuitive, but is an important safety awareness and social participation skill! Practice teaching your child all the positive behaviors surrounding sidewalk safety. Break it down into manageable conversations, including: staying next to adults, staying on the inside of the sidewalk, and holding hands. Have these conversations and practice within the community to be the most applicable to day-to-day routines! Use praise to build confidence in their ability to be safe! For example, “Wow, you’re so responsible holding my hand while walking outside. You’re great at keeping your body safe.”
Crosswalks are a higher complexity of skill for children. Identifying a crosswalk requires visual scanning, visual perceptual, and executive functioning skills. Stopping at the crosswalk requires motor planning and inhibition. Determining if there is oncoming traffic requires visual fixation, visual scanning, sustained attention, shifted attention, identification, processing, and problem solving skills. Start by creating a routine and script surrounding crosswalk safety. For example, “Look a crosswalk. We need to stop. We need to look both ways. Is there a car coming? Is it safe to walk?”. Label what is happening as it is happening. For example, “I see a blue car. It is coming toward us. We cannot go. We have to wait.” Label praise and promote what they are doing well!
Traffic signals require visual fixation and long-term memory skills. Practice labeling the different signals. Play simple guessing games to promote learning in a fun and interactive way!
Understanding who are safe adults to turn to in the case of an emergency is an important skill. Teach your child about community helpers (e.g. fire fighters, school teachers, etc.) and their roles. Fun and interactive ways to teach your children can include: books, puzzles, coloring activities, and trips to community centers. Have your child memorize their name, address, and phone number. Or, teach them where they can find a personal identification card and how to interact with a community help in case of an emergency.
Community Sensory Kit
Walking outside can be a sensory overload! Between honking cars, construction, traffic, and pedestrians, your child can get overwhelmed. Here is the guide to the perfect community sensory kit to use or send to school with your child:
- Bug spray
- Preferred fidget toys
- Transitional item
- Chewing gum
- Compression shirt
- Personal identification information (e.g. identification card, allergy information, address, contact information)