RachaelRachael Rachael, a mom of two daughters, is a freelance editor and writer who enjoys gardening and dreams of keeping chickens in her suburban St. Louis backyard. In her spare time, she helps to edit her husband’s science fiction books. Read more of Rachael's work at www.rachaelsjohnston.com or contact her by emailing rachael@mumblingmommy.com.

We live close to our neighborhood elementary school. It’s around the corner at the end of our block, so I walked my daughter to and from kindergarten there every day this past year. There were only three thunder-stormy afternoons when I resorted to picking her up in the car so we didn’t get struck by lightning. Otherwise, we were walking to school or trudging through sunshine, rain, sleet, snow, wind, single-digit temperatures, and near-triple-digit temperatures.

I’ve written before about how I prefer walking. It’s good exercise. It’s good for the environment and saves gasoline. It also means I am not contributing to nasty traffic snarls every day outside school. We are fortunate to live close enough to school and have a family schedule that allows us to walk.

That said, I have learned a few things during my year walking to school with my daughter:

Walking to School Reflections

1.       A bouquet of dandelions gathered while walking home is better than expensive store-bought roses.

2.      Fall is best enjoyed while walking outdoors and crunching through the leaves, rather than driving in a closed-up
car.

3.      A good umbrella is a must.

4.      So are snow boots. And hats. And gloves. And scarves. And a tauntaun.

5.      Some parents see us trekking through snow every day during winter and think we are poor and have no car.

6.      Nice moms in minivans sometimes offer me rides home when it’s snowing.

7.      Walking through snow on sidewalks is like walking in sand at the beach. It takes more physical exertion to move forward.

8.      A sidewalk clear of snow and ice is a lovely thing.

9.      Spring sunshine is sweeter after a long, harsh winter.

10.   A few weird people populate the route to school, like the creepy grandpa who told me something that sounded suspiciously like a pickup line: “You must be a Christian because you smile a lot.”

11.    Fortunately, I can cross the street when I meet weird people.

12.   Even better, there are way more nice people along the route to school. I greet neighbors who are out. I made friends with the crossing guard, a friendly middle-aged woman whose children all went to the local elementary school. I often say hello to the cheerful art teacher who greets students outside school every morning.

13.   It’s tough luck when the weekly garbage truck happens to be rumbling down the street just upwind of our daily commute.

14.   Kindergarteners are good at walking really, really slow.

15.   It’s easier to get to know other parents when I’m standing outside school waiting for the dismissal bell to ring, rather than sitting alone in my car in the pickup lane.

16.   The slower pace that comes with walking to and from school also allows me to get to know my daughter’s classmates a little. It warms my heart to hug my daughter goodbye in the morning and then see her link arms with one or two other girls as they walk to class. It’s also cute to watch them hug each other goodbye at the end of the day.

17.   I see a lot of kids who ride in cars to school who are not safely buckled in, and it upsets me. No elementary student should ride in the front seat, and many elementary students should still be in booster seats.

18.   Distracted drivers using phones in school zones also upset me. I have seen many oblivious drivers fly past the crossing guard when she was already two or three steps into the street. Put down the phones, people. They make you behave badly and you don’t even realize it.

19.   Walking to school promotes good conversations between my children and me. It’s a great time to talk about the upcoming day, or to ask how the day was.

20.   My children are learning that walking is good and that we don’t have to drive everywhere.

21.  It may only be five minutes each way twice a day, but that’s more calories than I would have otherwise burned. It’s the small things.

How about you? Do you walk with your child to school?

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Category: Family Free Time

Tags: car safety