In addition to your child’s development, care and safety are top priorities for childcare providers. At U-GRO Learning Centres, one of the ways that we keep our friends safe is through regular safety drills (fire, intruder, weather) and other exercises.
Our families reach out to our staff with questions about how they can talk with their young children about why we do safety drills and the importance of being safe both at school and at home. Even if you’re not currently a U-GRO family, these tips can help you have a conversation with your children about safety in a way that is age-appropriate.
Explain the importance of safety.
For young children, focus on the importance of safety and practicing being safe. Explain safety in a way that he or she will understand. For example, there are many things we do to keep ourselves and our bodies safe, like wear a helmet when riding a bike, put our seat belt on in the car, or hold hands when crossing the street.
At school, there are also things we have to do and practice to make sure we are safe. We need to practice how to leave the building if it isn’t safe inside, like during a fire drill. There are also instances where we practice how to find a safe place in the classroom or building if it isn’t safe outside, like when the weather is bad or if there is someone in the building who shouldn’t be there.
Children have remarkable instincts when it comes to how others feel. Talking about safety drills can conjure up worry or anxiety as a parent. Remain calm when talking to your child. If they sense you are scared or worried, that may create a sense of fear or worry for them. Again, explain that drills are intended to keep you safe. They aren’t intended to be scary.
Listen to your child.
Some children may need nothing more, while others may ask additional questions. Children’s reactions will also be different. Some may be excited because they were good listeners and helped their teacher, and others may feel unsure or worried.
Listen to your children and answer their questions the best you can based on their individual response. Importantly, answer questions in an age-appropriate way, but still be as clear as possible. For example, with a younger toddler, you can simply say you’re practicing a safety drill. However, an older child may have more questions or may seek additional information. It’s appropriate to be honest and direct, otherwise, you could create confusion.
Repeat what they say to let them know you’re listening and that you understand correctly. Compassionately validate their feelings and address their concerns.
Practice at home.
Now that you’ve talked through your child’s concerns, you can offer solutions to help your child feel calm during the next drill. Practicing drills at home is a great way to create parallels with what they’re doing at school, while also making drills more comfortable for children. Other ways to practice safety include creating a family fire safety plan and teaching them what to do when they hear the smoke alarm.
Through age-appropriate conversations and practice, you can increase your children’s understanding of safety drills and confidence in preparing for emergencies.
Child safety is our top priority at U-GRO, and we want parents to feel empowered in helping their children feel secure. For more advice, check out our other parenting tips on our blog.