October is a big month in most people’s calendar. You may know it as being the month of Halloween, but are you aware that October is International Walk to School Month? Children and their parents all over the world will be walking to and from school this month and you should get involved too.
Walking to school has a number of health and environmental benefits that we’re going to go into in this post about international walk to school month. We’ll give you some walking to school tips too, so you can make sure that you can get involved with walk to school month and make it safe and fun.
So, if you want to get your kids more active this month, change up your morning routine and do some good, keep reading to find out more about how to get involved with international walk to school month 2018.
Why Walking to School Is Good for You
It may seem obvious but walking to school is really good for you. But there are more benefits to walking to school than simply getting a bit of mild exercise. So, if you’re asking yourself ‘why should I walk to school’? Here are the associated advantages and benefits:
- Health reasons. The most obvious upside to walking to school is the health benefits. Childhood obesity is reaching crisis levels in the UK. Walking to school is associated with improved metabolic health. Getting at least half an hour of exercise a day is also beneficial for adults. So, you can do yourself some good and your children too. Also, sitting in traffic often means you’re exposed to a high concentration of air pollutants. By walking to a school, along a quiet route, you’ll be avoiding the congestion and will make your walk to school altogether more pleasurable.
- Money. You never need a reason to save yourself some money. You’ll cut on the costs of petrol or public transport. Treat yourself and the children to a day out when the month is over!
- Relationships. Whether you walk with your children, or you let them walk in a group, it’s a great bonding experience for them and gives them some independence. Having that feeling can do wonders for a child’s confidence. It will also help them to improve their social skills outside of a classroom.
- Road safety. It’s a really good way for your children to get into the habit of practising safety by the roads. It’s something all parents worry about, but a month is more than enough time for our children to get into the habit.
- Time. If you’ve never walked your children to school before, you may find that you could actually be saving time by doing so. If you consider the fact that you won’t be stuck in school-run traffic and there are a number of potential walkways and shortcuts available to you that you can’t take in a car, it could be quicker. Or, if you organise a walking bus with other parents, you may only have to do it once a week or so. If you have to manage a school run and make it to work yourself, you could give yourself some well-earned stress relief for a month.
- Environmental benefit. It pretty much goes without saying that walking to school will help air pollution. The more people that get involved, the less cars there are on the road. At this point, every little helps and you can consider it as an extra good deed done for the day.
- Academic performance. Evidence suggests that walking to school can improve academic performance. By burning off some energy in the morning and doing something that engages your mind like walking, your children will be able to settle into the school day easier and will feel more awake by the time they reach school.
So how does walking to school benefit an individual? For all the above reasons. Walking to school has health benefits, can improve academic performance and will help the environment. Not only will it benefit our kids, but it can save you money and time in the process. And you’ll enjoy the same benefits your children will.
Walking to School Safety Tips
The thing you’re most likely to be concerned about as a parent is your children’s safety. But don’t let safety concerns get in the way of something that has so many positive upsides. We’re going to share some walking to school safety tips. Take note of these and you’ll know exactly how to stay safe when walking to school.
- Plan a safe route. Planning ahead is one of the best things you can do. Avoid busy roads and try and walk through quiet, calm areas. Studies have shown that simply looking at plants, trees and nature every day can improve our mental health. Your children included. Maybe consider walking through a park and foster your child’s natural curiosity!
- Use it as an opportunity to teach your children about road safety. How can you teach your children about walking to school safety? By walking to school safely. Talk to them about why you are making the decisions you are making. For example, as a parent, you know when and where to cross a road and what vehicles to be wary of. Try and foster conversations with your children about the decisions you make so they follow suit. And most importantly, set an example yourself. Don’t take any risks to save time and be an exemplary pedestrian. Your behaviour will rub off on them. When you’re in a quieter area and you both feel more confident, try and let them take the lead. The feeling of independence and positive reinforcement when they make a good decision will help it stick in their minds.
- Organise a walking bus with other parents. Try and organise for your children to walk with other local kids. Together, they’ll learn how to walk to school safely and is a great way for them to socialise. It’ll also give you an opportunity to have a morning off from the school run.
- Wear bright clothes. Visibility starts to deteriorate at this time in the year, and by the end of October especially, you could be walking in low light conditions. Don a hi-vis jacket or make sure your children have reflective strips on their clothes, their school bags or simply a bright coat. Make it easy for motorists to see you.
Other than that, simply exercise good road safety on your walks during international walk to school month. Stop before you cross any road. Look left, look right and look left again. Make sure your children aren’t pushing or chasing each other by the road and be extra vigilant. This isn’t just for your sake, but for your children’s sake too.
How to Make Walking to School Fun
One of the best ways to encourage walking to school is by including some fun activities into the routine. It will give your children some incentive and make the international walk to school month a lot more enjoyable for you and your children. Here are some walking to school activities to get the most out of international walk to school month.
- The Counting Game. This is especially good for very young children who are still trying to get to grips with those pesky numbers. You might even be able to get your school teachers involved with this too. Give your children something to count on their walk. This could be bicycles, vans, sweet shops and so on. At school, everyone can share how much they counted. The teachers can tie it in with their lessons and their brains are getting a workout as well as their legs.
- The No Homework Incentive. This is another one you’ll need to get your teachers on board with too. But you’ll find they may be more willing to join in with this one than you think. For every pupil that promises to walk into school, they don’t get any homework. Obviously, there are some things to consider here but if your children attend a very local school and everyone in the class can feasibly walk there, get it going. With the debate on homework raging at the moment, now could be just the time to try a break. Anti-homework campaigners would argue that he kids don’t like it, the parents (who normally end up doing it) don’t like it, teachers don’t like it, and no one really learns from it. Start saying no to homework and yes to walking and playing.
- Make it a Safari. As we said, children have a natural curiosity about the natural world. Use this time to encourage that. Try and spot as many animals as you can. Try and collect nature samples on your way: shells, leaves, rocks etc. Or, if you can’t see any animals, start walking like them! Your kids will love it and it’s a good laugh for everyone.
- The Clean-up Championship. By walking to school, you’re already making a positive impact on the environment. Why stop there? Bring some bin bags and gloves for the way back and pick up any litter you see on the way. Give all the children a treat for participating but an extra prize for the one who collects the most litter. It’s fun, it’s good for the environment, it’s good for your neighbourhood. And, it will teach your children the importance of looking after where you live.
If you need some help encouraging walking to school with your children, get these fun games involved.
So, what are you waiting for? Get involved with International Walk to School Month today! There are so many good reasons to do it. If you don’t live within walking distance of your school, don’t worry. You could opt to walk perhaps, half of the distance and do the rest by public transport or vice versa. Same applies if you drive. Drive until you’re within a good walking distance and then get out and walk. Or, simply try and get your family to go for a walk at the weekends. You’ll be able to plan your route to anywhere you want to go.
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