For parents and children alike it can be a hectic, frenzied rush for the bell; for commuters and other drivers an irritating but inevitable hold-up on their way. Parents on the so-called ‘school run’ – driving children to and from school, Monday to Friday – can create chaos on the road, as well single-handedly emitting an enormous amount of CO2 into the atmosphere.
In order to take the stressful and anti-green sentiments out of your daily journey to and from school, we’ve come up with a few steps to help improve the school run for you, your children and others on the road.
Walk, Don’t Drive
The drive to school actually accounts for around a fifth of all traffic in peak hours, which inevitably has an impact on the environment – creating more local pollution through CO2 and other exhaust emissions. It has also been cited as a direct contributor towards the worrying increase in cases of child obesity.
Walking to school instead of driving is better for the environment, less expensive and is a great way of giving you and your child exercise each day. More and more schools are setting up so-called ‘human buses’, an adult-led group walking children to school each day. Pick up and drop off points are planned along the route where you can collect your child from – or even better, why not walk the route with the rest of the group too!
Take Alternative Transport
If your child lives too far away to walk or cycle to school each day, it’s also worth investigating other transportation methods to get them to and from school. Schools with a large number of students living outside the local area often offer a school bus service – or if they don’t, they may well think about doing so if there’s enough support and demand for the service. The school bus journey is a great way for your child to socialise and gain confidence travelling, but also giving you the reassurance that they are still under the supervision of school staff.
Set up or Join a Car Sharing Scheme
Another popular way of reducing carbon emissions and sharing the cost of taking children to school is through car sharing schemes. Form an alliance with parents who live locally to you and take it in turns to take the children to and from work. This reduces the number of journeys you need to complete each week, and is a great way for your child to make friends with other local children.
Drop off and Go
A lot of congestion – and unnecessary carbon emissions – is caused by parents parking their cars and then taking their children into the school grounds themselves. Many schools are combating the traffic by designating areas directly outside the school gates as drop off points only. These points, which mean you’re able to watch your child walking through the school gates without leaving your vehicle, will give you the peace of mind that they’re safe. Leaving the car at home for a change also becomes more of an incentive if you want to catch up and chat with other parents in the playground.
Changing your Routine
Although it’s not possible to change the times of the school day, you can try and be more flexible in the way you approach the daily trip to and from school. Encouraging your child to get involved with after school sports is a good way to keep them healthy and active – and you’ll be one less vehicle on the road at peak times.
Or, try leaving the car at home one day a week, and instead plan new and interesting routes home each week. Not only will you be having a positive effect on the environment by reducing your overall carbon footprint, you’ll also be stimulating your child’s imagination.