We can all agree that the more road sense our littlies have, the better. So how do we teach them about the risks of the road without terrifying them, but so that they'll listen? One answer: games! Here are some ideas:
- Counting other road users! Set a prize for the first person to count a certain number of cyclists, or motorbikers for example. This gets children practicing their eye scanning, as well as noticing how many other road-users are out there.
- Get children to tell a story from the perspective of another road user they see. For example, if you drive past a rider on a horse, ask for a story from the rider's perspective. Help them consider how much space the person has, what they can see from their viewpoint, what sorts of things might appear frightening to them... and so on. This helps build empathy for other road users, which we know is important.
- For younger children - have them practice 'crossing the road' by creating a paper traffic light that you can change. They can only cross when there's a red light and green man, and there's a timer on how long they can take. Once they get the hang of this you could add sound effects (e.g., the light might be red but if there's a car noise, we still need to watch carefully and not cross). This helps them understand road rules, and also apply additional common sense to them.
- For teaching children about distractions, get them set up with various different distractions (a doll or teddy to chat to, a music player turned up loud, things to carry, or perhaps something blocking their vision) and play a game to show them how much harder it is to concentrate on or notice a car coming when they're in that situation. Have them practice crossing a pretend 'road', or counting cars with all the distractions, compared to none.
- Talk about a journey, and get your child to do various activities in relation to their impression and memory of it. For example, have them think about their trip to school/the shops/grandma's house, and ask them to draw the route, including pictures of what they can remember along the way. Then go and retrace that journey and see what is missing. Ask them questions about anything that stands out/frightened them. This works particularly well if they ever take the trip solo (for older kids) so you get some insight of what they might have been thinking along the way.
There are loads more ideas out there, here are a few websites to get you started:
We'd love to hear your ideas too.