"Never tilt your chair back on two legs."
"Never bother a dog while it's eating."
"Never put anything in your ear."
These are just a few of the safety tips that Office Buckle does his best to impart to the children of the fictional town of Napville in Peggy Rathmann's Caldecott Medal-winning book, Office Buckle and Gloria.
These are also just a few of the safety tips we parents do our best to impart to our preschool-age children. Do the kiddos listen? Occasionally. Do they retain what we're saying? We hope so. Do they practice what we preach? With constant reminders, mostly.
Teaching our children safety is really a parent's number one job. Yes, we want them to explore and grow and learn, but above all else we want them to be safe from serious harm. Bumps and bruises may be signs of healthy adventuring, but no parent wants to end up in the ER with their child because some basic safety precaution was ignored.
So how do we teach safety to young children?
It's not at all easy. Small kids don't listen terribly well (understatement!). They have very fuzzy notions of cause and consequence. And "what if" scenarios make little sense to them.
Cue Office Buckle and his trusty police dog, Gloria. In Rathmann's marvelous tale, Office Buckle is a sturdy mustachioed fellow who takes safety very seriously—so seriously that children fall asleep during his dull school safety presentations. It's only when his new police dog Gloria tags along that the crowd of children starts listening up. As Office Buckle reads off his dozens of tips, behind his back Gloria pantomimes each disastrous scenario. When Buckle intones, for example, "NEVER leave a THUMBTACK where you might SIT on it!" Gloria leaps into the air holding her rear. The kids roar. They also listen, and "after this safety speech, there wasn't a single accident." But when the officer discovers his dog's deception, he is terribly hurt and refuses to carry on with the show. It's only after a serious accident occurs that the two friends make up and realize that the most important safety tip is to "ALWAYS STICK WITH YOUR BUDDY!"
Needless to say, this book is a huge hit with the preschool-age crowd, and a great introduction to the concept of safety rules. It's also a wonderful primer for parents on how to teach kids these rules that are so important to their well-being. With Buckle and Gloria as our guides, here's how we approach it:
To get you going, here are a few Savvy traffic safety activities that are fun and engaging for the kids. You'll also find good ways to teach young children their personal information here and here. The following articles are also a big help:
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