Whether your school-age child walks, bikes, or rides the bus to school, be sure to go over basic safety rules. Page Content"Accidents happen, but many of them could be avoided," says Richard Byrd, M.D., Chief of Pediatrics at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. "Many of these injuries could have been prevented or minimized by taking necessary precautions. For example, wearing a bike helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent."How to Travel to and from SchoolWhether your school-age child walks, bikes, or rides the bus to school, be sure to go over basic safety rules with him or her.Pedestrian Safety TipsPlan a walking route with your child before school starts. Choose a way with the fewest street crossings and, if possible, one with adult crossing guards.Tell your child to stay away from vacant lots, fields, and other places where there aren't many people around.Have your child walk to and from school with a sibling, friend, or neighbor.Teach your child to obey all traffic signals, signs, and traffic officers.Bike Safety TipsMake sure your biker wears a bicycle helmet that meets U.S. Consumer Product and Safety Commission standards.Be sure your child rides on the right in the same direction as auto traffic and uses appropriate hand signals.Teach your child to stop and look left, right, and left again before entering a street.School Bus Safety TipsIf your child takes the bus, tell him or her to wait for the bus to stop before approaching it from the curb.Instruct your child to not move around on the bus and stay seated with arms and head inside the bus.Make sure your child checks to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing.Teach your child to always remain in clear view of the bus driver.Packing the Right Backpack: To prevent injury to your school-age child's back, be sure to choose the right backpack. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends you choose a backpack with wide-padded shoulder straps and a padded back. Your child's backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of your child's body weight. Make sure your student packs light and organizes items in all the compartments. Pack heavier items closest to the center of the back. Consider a rolling backpack a good choice for students who must tote a heavy load.Make the First Day of School a Good One Your child may feel a bit uneasy about the first day of school. Let your child know they're not alone, says Dr. Byrd. Teachers can help anxious students feel as comfortable and safe as possible.Remind your child about the positive aspects of starting school: "It will be fun. You'll see old friends and meet new ones." Find another child in the neighborhood with whom your youngster can walk to school or ride with on the bus. If appropriate, drive or walk your child to school and pick him or her up on the first day.If Your Child Is Avoiding School, or Has Anxiety about ReturningTalk to your child about why he or she doesn't want to go to school.Contact the principal, guidance counselor, and school nurse, and make them aware of the situation.After you've taken steps to rectify the upsetting circumstances, insist that your child go to school immediately.Severe phobias may require a gradual reentry to school.After five days of anxiety-related absences from school, you should make an appointment with your pediatrician.With a little parental help, your child's first day of school can be a good one, says Dr. Byrd. Instill in your child a sense of confidence to help ensure a fun, educational, and safe school year.Kelsey Kids, Healthy KidsKelsey-Seybold has a proud tradition of caring for Houston's children and their families for nearly 60 years. Our pediatricians are specialists in the care of infants, children and adolescents. We have more than 60 pediatric physicians and pediatric subspecialists practicing at more than a dozen neighborhood clinics throughout the Greater Houston area. To schedule an appointment, call 713-442-KIDS (5437).