Let's go over 3 Tips for Teaching School Safety in Kindergarten!
Just like other procedures, teaching our school safety procedures starts pretty much as soon as students get to kindergarten. It doesn't need to be the first day of school but it should be within the first couple of weeks of the school year. After all, before we can expect young children to do a school-wide safety drill, we need to let them know what to expect. Learning about school safety drills and keeping the different procedures straight can feel overwhelming to our young learners, but these tips can help them go more smoothly.
Tip #1: Teach Before the Drill
Like I mentioned earlier, you need to expose students to the idea of safety drills before an actual drill happens. Imagine how hard it would be to keep students calm and give them directions while an unfamiliar sound blares overhead and the rest of the elementary school is also emptying into the hallway. It would be hard (if not impossible) to get students to the designated safe area quietly and calmly in emergency situations such as these.
Teaching school safety in kindergarten involves discussing drills with students explicitly. For example, when telling students about a fire drill, start by explaining the steps of a drill and that we practice this so we would know what to do in case of a real fire. Explain to students that the most important thing for them to do is follow directions CALMLY. This helps the teacher lead them out of the classroom and to a safe place outside of the building. So ensure one the first safety rule is that younger children understand how important it is to remain calm.
Tip #2: Use Visuals
While explaining to students what the drill is like and what they should do, it is also helpful to show them step-by-step visuals. My school safety posters work perfectly for this! Not only does it include posters that show all of the steps in order for fire, tornado, and shelter-in-place drills, but there are also posters that show each step clearly. So, if you are discussing the steps of a fire drill, you can hold up a visual of getting in line calmly, while you are explaining that step.
Then, you can move on to a poster showing students standing outside as you are talking about the next part of a fire drill. Showing visuals while you are talking about what a fire drill is like will help students feel more prepared for the real thing, and also give them something to refer back to later if needed.
Tip # 3 Practice Makes Perfect
After your students have learned what different safety drills look like, it is time to practice these safety measures. Again, because they are kindergarteners, I recommend giving them their own drills before they go through drills with the school. It removes some of the pressure for you as a teacher and makes it less overwhelming for your students who are new to this whole thing.
Drills are difficult and confusing, and they will only be more confusing if they are having to enter the hallways with different classes and age groups who are trying to make it outside. Like all other skills, practice makes perfect and giving your students the chance to practice without the rest of the school helps to take some of the stress out of school safety drills. Create a safe environment for them to learn these drills and offer emotional support if your students have questions.
It's only natural that your top priority is to create a safe learning environment. You play an important role in ensuring young kids understand best practices when it comes to classroom safety. An important step in emergency preparedness is to craft your classroom rules and ensure the whole class understands. Then you can also teach the importance of being calm and so on. Setting this foundation in your emergency plan can play a critical role in how the situation plays out.
For additional resources, you can see if the school districts or school administrators offer other tools or programs to aid in helpful preparation. Consider school nurses and whether or not they can come in to visit your class. This additional support has potential to help teach children about first aid kits (and other general health or safety issues like washing hands and/or hand sanitizer). When it comes to early learning, there are so many more things to consider than just the ABCs and 1-2-3s.
So to recap, at the beginning of the year, safety drills are just another one of those procedures that we have to teach in order to keep our classrooms running smoothly. Having explicit conversations about drills with our students, showing them visuals and reminders, and practicing as a class will help make them less overwhelming for students and less stressful for teachers. Hopefully, these tips help as you are sharing school safety information with your students this year!
Are you looking for a great way to teach procedures to your classroom? I wrote a book that includes eight short stories that will help you teach your kids at back to school and all year long!