Engaging children in the importance of road safety

Engaging children in the importance of road safety

Just a fortnight ago it was Road Safety Week. Despite it being run by Brake, we realise that for the event to be a huge success it requires everyone around the country to take notice and work towards a safer environment for all on our roads. Volunteers and educators play a huge part in spreading the word of road safety and here PACEY local facilitator Sue Smith tells us of the work she does with children under the age of five. 

Engaging children in the importance of road safety

As a childminder of 15 years, and a Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) Local Facilitator, road safety is a prominent area of our daily routine.

Of course, I focus on keeping the children safe when out and about, ensuring the appropriate risk assessments are in place and allowing children to make their own informed decisions. It is the fun elements that engage the interest of the children and ensure the messages around safety on our roads form a key part of their learning. From babies to teenagers, the need for a solid understanding of road safety should never be underestimated.

Empowering children to make them road safety aware

Road safety is part of every child's daily life – from noting the speed of the cars that pass us on our school walk, often in excess of the speed limit, to discussions around how this could be tackled by the local police. It all helps children's understanding of the implications of road traffic accidents that can happen due to excessive speed, as well as a lack of road safety awareness from pedestrians.

My mission is to make the children in my care more road safety aware.

Working with local PCSOs

I'm a well-known childminder in our town, as well as a PACEY Local Facilitator, and have great links with our local police community support officer (PCSO). This contact gives me the opportunity to provide community education through relaxed play opportunities at our drop-in sessions with childminders and children.

We have focussed sessions around Road Safety Week in November with lots of children together to maximise and extend the message to families, shared through photographs and media coverage.

We include role play areas, which allow the PCSOs to communicate directly with the children – it helps the children feel more confident when they see the PCSOs out and about in the community.

The PCSOs extend the road safety message by teaching elements of road crossing. The children are taken to quiet by-roads, where they discuss and model safe road crossing. The children are shown how to keep themselves safe, from their own observations and assessment of the speed of moving cars, to making the right choice as to where they should cross the road.

Developing an understanding of road safety with young children

For younger children, the messages are just as important. It is also important to help parents reinforce this learning, as these youngsters grow into children who will be walking and making the decisions for themselves.

In this way, simple toys can be introduced to settings. Whether they are childminders or day nurseries, pre-schools or reception classes, all ages and settings are as important as each other and engagement with the children can be made with the appropriate age- related resources and messages.

One activity to engage younger children is using role play scenarios with small- world play. Children can be encouraged to make their own pedestrian crossing from junk modelling and acting out where it may be safe to cross a road. This is just one area of developing concepts for understanding of road safety with young children.

Championing the work of Brake

In January 2015, I was fortunate to be invited to attend the Brake Road Safety Celebration Evening at the House of Commons in London. It was wonderful to see so many volunteers who like myself champion the work of Brake and continually endorse the message of road safety to try and reduce the number of injuries and deaths on our roads every year.

However, to see the statistics still so high for deaths caused by dangerous driving pushes me even further to continue to get these important messages across to our youngsters. These are children now but will be tomorrow's young adults. I strive to make these children not only aware of the dangers of dangerous drivers, but also to empower them to keep safe on the roads.

In my role I will continually campaign to keep our roads safer, and learning through play is just one way in which Early Years Professionals can show how their role is so important within our local communities to go some way to achieving this.

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Sunday, 12 July 2020

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