Safety awareness can be a very abstract concept for our students… yet it is such an important one! We need to find ways to break the concept down into more understandable chunks and build the language needed for emergencies. Here are some ideas for breaking it down and build those crucial life skills.
Students need to be able to tell strangers their personal information…. this is a tricky one! On one hand, we tell children no to talk to strangers. BUT then we need them to be able to tell trusted strangers when problems and emergencies arise. We practice this one in a variety of ways.
Start by practicing a system for students to share their personal info with known people. How are students going to get this info to others? Is there speech clear enough for strangers to understand them? Will they talk loud enough or slow enough for a stranger to understand what they are saying? Will they have a device or PECS book with them? If you answered no to any of these, then it is time to teach students a specific way to convey this info to strangers when needed.
It could be that they always have a card with personal info in their pocket. They could have a medic alert bracelet they learn to show strangers when asked about their name. Whatever the system, it is important that we practice it over and over and over with students in our safe & known environment.
I like to practice having students give it to “strangers” in the school building. There is always a few adults in the building (custodian, teachers from different grades, school secretary, etc.) that the student doesn’t know yet. This is also a great chance for you to see if this person who doesn’t know your student can understand the info.
When you practice this, have the “strangers” ask for their info in a variety of ways. We know how to state questions in a way that will get them to respond… others do not. You need to plan and teach this!!
We also work on general safety rules. We use role playing and interactive books to practice different safety rules that apply to most settings. For example, there is a part of our campus where we can practice crossing the road safely. Find ways to mock them up and practice them over and over!
We also use these interactive safety books as another way to hear the rules and review them.
No matter how you practice safety rules and build safety awareness, it is important to practice it over and over. Keep it up!!