HAPPY CARPOOLING FOR YOU AND YOUR KIDS
Concerned about their child’s safety, more and more parents are opting out of the school bus system to get their children to and from school each day. Unless you are a stay-at-home parent, transportation can be a tenuous process. Even those with a flexible work schedule find it disruptive to their daily schedule. Couple those concerns with the cost of gas and logistics of setting up a carpool and it’s enough to stick your kids back on the bus.
For many new parents, the idea of putting cherished offspring into someone else’s car is frightening. Here are a few guidelines and tips that will help you quash your fears and establish a carpool you will want to keep for however long you need.
School administrators are on to the carpooling trend and are accommodating parents like never before. With technology at their disposal, schools can compile a list of fellow PTA’ers phone numbers who share your zip code. If a list is not offered at orientation, call the office before school starts. Otherwise, you may find carpools already established and filled.
ESTABLISH THE DAYS YOU CAN DRIVE
On any given school week, there are 10 trips in which to divide. Can you drive in the morning, afternoon or each trip on a particular day? Perhaps mornings are hectic and you would rather drive your child every morning. If so, be prepared to run a morning carpool for others.
HAVE THE RIGHT CAR
If you only drive one day a week, you need a vehicle that can hold up to five passengers. Younger students must sit in the back so keep that in mind when counting seats. The size of your car will dictate the number of trips you run. Know too that parents don’t usually slam each other for having more than one child in a carpool. That extra day can be rotated monthly.
There is no way around it; you must drive even if your child isn’t coming home that day. If he has a play date, you still drive or switch with someone. Be responsible for your shift. Save dental appointments for times other than your carpool day. If your child is sick, query your carpool for a relief driver. It will happen to them at some point, so don’t feel so bad.
Depending on the school, a student body can range anywhere from kindergarten to high school. A successful, happy carpool will have members close in age. Otherwise, a younger child will be uncomfortable and may be exposed to behavior better saved for a few years later.
- Be prompt, especially in the rain.
- Inform passengers of your vehicle rules on the first day. If you don’t want them climbing over the seats to exit, tell them. Then when you admonish them for climbing over the seats, you will be justified.
- Always, always buckle. Lots of kids will not do this but if there’s an accident and a child is hurt, you will be sued. The driver is responsible for passengers. And tell your child they must buckle and be respectful of the other drivers.
- Do not drink during lunch on your carpool day. Period.
- If your kids aren’t going to be in carpool, call that day’s driver to avoid confusion.
- Try to refrain from yelling at any passenger during carpool. Stay off your phone while driving and no texting.
If you follow these guidelines and treat each member with respect, school transportation will be safe, time-efficient and economical, as well as the source of great friendships for you both during the years to come.