It started much like any other conversation. I asked him how his day was at school.
"We had to go into the bathroom today," he responded.
"The bathroom? Why?"
"That's what we do if a stranger comes into the school. We have to sit on the FLOOR. It's yucky!"
I hugged his little shoulders.
"Oh, buddy. It is so important that you do what the teachers ask. Even if it's yucky. Even if it's crowded. And if you ever find yourself outside of class when a stranger comes into school, make sure you hide. Do whatever you can. Even if it's scary, don't make a sound. Just hide, please, for Mommy."
That's a conversation I never thought I'd have to have with my six-year-old kindergartener.
But in today's world with school shootings in the news, it's a reality we have to face.
How To Keep Your Kids Safe at School
Sometimes, as we pack our kids into our cars and head to school, leaving them in the highly capable hands of their caring teachers, we feel helpless. If something does happen, there isn't a whole lot we can do as parents.
But there *are* things we can do now, before tragedy strikes, to better prepare our children for those situations.
The key is talking about it before it happens.
Teach Your Kids Your Emergency Contact Information
Make sure your child knows their full name, address, and your phone number. That way you can be contacted quickly in the event of an emergency.
Find Out What Procedures Your School Has In Place
You can chat with your child's teacher or school administrators to find out what happens in the event of an emergency or lock-down. Where does your child's class go? What happens if they are somewhere else on campus?
By finding out the details before talking to your child, you'll be prepared to answer any questions they have.
Talk To Your Kids About Their School Safety Procedures
This includes their emergency lock down procedures and fire safety drills. Ask what happens and how their class responds. Talk to your kids about what is expected of them -- how important it is that they remain quiet, listen to instructions, and remain calm. Remind them that they are in control of their reaction, even if they are scared.
Ask if they have any questions and keep the lines of communication open.
Did you know? A simple door stop can be pushed into the bottom of a classroom door to block entry. You can purchase one here and place it in your child's backpack or give it to their teacher.
Teach Your Kids To Be a Defender
A defender is someone who stands up for their classmates and friends when they are being bullied. A defender feels social responsibility for their community to ensure that everyone respects each other. See more about raising defenders here.
Perhaps they can reach out to a student who is struggling and needs help. If you are raising your children to be caring individuals, it will be second nature to them.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
When you talk to your kids each day, make sure to ask questions that spark conversation. Even if your teenager doesn't want to talk. Communication is so important.
The most important thing is do to everything you can to prepare your child beforehand. And show them your love no matter what.