According to Safe Routes to School, “In 1969, approximately 50% of children walked or bicycled to school, with approximately 87% of children living within one mile of school walking or bicycling. Today, fewer than 15% of schoolchildren walk or bicycle to school.” Not only does this promote a country full of overweight, inactive kids, but nowadays, as much as 30% of morning traffic can be linked to parents driving their children to schools.
This is not a healthy choice for kids and not great for the environment either. If you live close to school, kick your kids out and make them walk. If you don’t live close, public transportation is a great choice for kids who are 12 years old and up, and after that, consider starting a car-pool in your neighborhood. The major benefit of a car-pool is that it removes some traffic from the roads. Secondly, it helps save you time on days you’re not in charge of the car pool. Thirdly, it saves everyone money on gas. Lastly, it helps everyone connect to people in their neighborhood.
You may also want to consider a car-pool if your kids attend private school, as one downside of many private schools is that there’s no transportation choices. Many small schools don’t have a school bus system. It’s up to families to get their kids to school.
If you’re considering organizing a car-pool, here are some tips…
Plan for diligent or casual:
A diligent car-pool means parents pick up or drop off kids no matter what; even if their own kids are sick. Usually someone in this car-pool group has an official list created with dates and times. A casual car-pool is, well, casual. In casual car-pool groups I’ve noticed that sometime parents put off planning until the last minute. You need to choose which car-pool group you’d like to organize, because folks interested in a casual car-pool don’t tend to mingle well with the diligent folks.
Find other parents:
You can gather a group of parents you already know, or hang a flyer up at your child’s school. If you hang a flyer, make sure you put location info on it. People need to know the areas they’ll be expected to drive to. If your school already has a car-pool in place, you can ask to join.
Every decently run car-pool group needs rules, even the casual groups. Hold a meeting one evening and have all parents attend. You’ll need to discuss sick days, safety rules, rules surrounding kid behavior while with another parent and consequences (if there are any) for being late or absent. If you don’t make rules right off the bat, you’ll need to make them up as you go – which is a much harder task.
Stay tuned, because coming up soon, we’ll look at some helpful rules your car-pool group might want to implement.
Image © sonya etchison – Fotolia