Thursday, 24 May 2012

Car seat kids

Did you know that it is walk to school week here in the UK?

Do you, and your kids, walk to school?  And how important is the ability to do that to you?

As parents we choose schools that our children go to.  I guess that has always been the case, but I was surprised how complex the formal system we have of applying for school places is.

For me it was something of a no-brainer.  I live in a small village, one with a school, so that’s – not necessarily obviously – where I wanted my son to start his formal schooling.

No so for everyone.

What is the school like?

Is it ‘the best’ in the area?

But what does ‘the best’ actually mean?

I’m of the belief that a child willing to learn will learn in any environment, and that their learning can be supplemented anyway if your believe that being on the path to rocket science is the right one for them.

School means much more than a mere academic education for me.  It’s where you learn to make friends, deal with conflict, experience that the world isn’t necessarily fair and can help you judge how much you value loyalty and teamwork.

The ‘worst’ schools can actually teach people a hell of a lot.  Bringing them together to achieve.

I’m digressing, but I guess you’ll have worked out that we walk to school, and like doing so.

It’s a favourite part of our day.  We regularly discuss our favourite this or that, ask each other what we’ve been up to (yeah, we both answer that one: can’t remember) and enjoy little chats with others on their way to, or from, school.

Okay, I’ve read a couple of press releases this week, that stressed the healthy aspect of walking, which is great, but not really a prime motivator for me.

Child safety is a big factor for me however, and walking to school everyday is a good practical way of reinforcing lessons of keeping safe on the pavement.

It’s the one thing I can get a smidge ‘shouty’ about.

My son has always been very good on the pavement, I can’t really recall a time where he’s strayed into an area of danger, and I think that is due to me constantly stressing that he is responsible – in part – for managing his risk, and that he gets to practise it most days.

The roads to the school are calmer – perhaps not as calm as I’d like them to be – than most, so it’s a good place to learn the art of crossing them safely, and adapting behaviour based on conditions.

He’s learnt things like we cross the road before corners when it’s particularly wet or icy, we are not where a car travelling too fast may end up.

I sound terribly anal, probably because I am about this.

We don’t have a clipboard or written instructions,  my dictator-like lessons – like always – are informal, and along the lines of allowing my boy the opportunity to make decisions for himself.

And I don’t make him heel.

Although he does understand that instruction, and responds playfully or without hesitation based upon my tone.

While my son enjoys walking, I do like to mix it up a bit, and he’s improved his bike riding by taking it to school.

Lately he has started a craze of taking your scooter to school.

And with the Jubilee celebrations about to go into overdrive here, he’s been knocking them over – not literally  – with this bad boy.

It’s a Maxi-Micro scooter, a special limited edition jubilee model scooter.  It also comes in a smaller size, for the little ones who may be on their way to nursery rather than school.

He looks great riding it, as does the standalone scooter in the make-do scooter parking alley at the school.

The Union Jack clad bottle cooler is, err, cool, and is coming in particularly useful this week.

So, if you’re not already in it, come join the cool gang.  Walk, cycle, scooter or pogo-stick (do they still exist?) to school.

You know it makes sense.