How to Practice Safety Skills with Very Young Children

safety skills very young children

In many schools, there is an increased emphasis on holding school safety drills with our elementary, middle and high school students. But, what do we do with our early childhood students? How can we help very young children practice safety skills without frightening them?

There are creative ways to practice safety skills with very young children without frightening them.

We can start by talking about the things we do each day to keep ourselves safe. We wear seat belts and bike helmets, and we look both ways before crossing the street. We don’t expect that we will fall off our bikes, or that the car will be forced to stop suddenly, but we do these things “just in case”.

We can explain that the word drill is another word for practice. Then, we can provide examples of dancers, athletes and musicians performing drills to improve their skills.

We can also call our drills “safety drills” rather than something unfamiliar or possibly frightening, such as “intruder drill”. We can talk instead about practicing safety for times we might need to stay out of the hallway for a situation like a neighborhood dog accidentally getting into the building and running loose, or a person falling and getting hurt, necessitating a clear hallway that allows medical help to respond.

Most young children have learned about fire drills, and we can draw on that experience. We can reassure them that fires are extremely rare and we don’t expect them to happen in our homes or schools, but again, we want to be prepared, just in case, so we practice.

Even very young children understand the game of hide & seek, so we can tell them we might have a very rare situation where we need to hide and stay very quiet for a period of time. We can practice relaxation or imagery with children ahead of time, so if we need to lockdown and stay quiet, we can give them a cue to close their eyes and quietly imagine their happy place.

It’s a good idea for teachers to process drills after they are practiced, so they can address any fears and provide reassurance. It’s also good practice to make parents aware of drills, and provide resources for those who want to talk about emergency preparedness with their child.

School Safety: 5 things you can do now

School Safety 5 things you can do now

Small changes really can add up to greater school safety. As we begin the new year and embark on the second semester of our academic year, I find myself thinking about what it really takes to create safer schools for our students and staff. Over the past two decades, increasing research has taught us a great deal about best practices in preparedness, response and intervention.

Here are 5 things you can do now to improve your school safety:

  • Take a critical look at your school’s emotional climate to determine whether you are truly providing a safe haven for children and teens. Consider implementing a school climate or safety survey for students, staff and parents, to pinpoint areas that need attention. An extra benefit of this survey is that the data it provides will be extremely valuable for any grant funding you seek.
  • Foster a sense of belonging in your school community. Celebrate differences and offer a diverse menu of activities, mentoring and connectedness programs, so everyone has a place to call home.
  • Train your staff to identify the signs of those who are struggling so they can support and refer those needing help.
  • Review your crisis response plan. Ideally, this should be done every year, and no less frequently than every 3 years. We learn more every day in this field – you’ll want to be sure your plan reflects current recommendations.
  • Add a new type of drill. If you haven’t done a reverse evacuation or a lockdown drill in awhile, schedule one today. Then, review the results with your staff so everyone can make adjustments if needed.

This year, I will continue to dedicate myself to working intensively with school districts so each of them can rest assured that they have done everything they can to make their schools a safer place. I limit the number of schools I work with so I can provide highly targeted services. I will have the capacity to add a few selected districts over the next few months.

If you have a school safety question or just want to know more about how I can help your district, simply contact me here.

Safety Drills

safety drills

To keep students safe, it’s imperative that we keep our crisis & safety plans up to date and practice multiple types of safety drills.

What types of safety drills?

Be sure to include lockdown and evacuation drills along with the requisite fire drills.  It’s also a great idea to practice a reverse evacuation, where staff and students need to enter the building in an orderly fashion to put distance between themselves and an outdoor hazard.

Human beings do not typically perform well in a crisis.  But if we practice, which essentially creates a conditioned response, we will fare much better if the real thing should ever happen.