What You Need to Know to Get Through School Car Line Successfully

Car line. It’s one of those things that you don’t really understand until you’re the one who has to brave the line each day of school. Different schools have their own way of managing the traffic flow, the hand-off of kids, and other parts of the process, but there seem to be some universal truths of car line.

First, you don’t want to be THAT person. The one who hasn’t read the newsletters home from school and hasn’t looked at the maps detailing the process, and hasn’t prepped the kids for their role in everything. You might think nobody will notice, but you’re wrong. They’ll notice, all right. So in order to fully prepare yourself this school year, check out these tips to help you master car line like a champ.

Know what you’re supposed to do

You may have done car line before, at this school or at another, but each year starts a whole new round. Make sure you read all communication from the school about where to turn, where to stop, and everything else they want you to know. If everyone is doing the right thing it makes the process 1000 times better. Don’t be the one to hold up the line. Stay in your car and follow the rules! 

Make sure your kid knows what to do

If your kiddo is experiencing car line for the first time (or the second or the ninth) make sure that they know what the expectations are for them when you pull in to the school. If your child doesn’t know how to buckle and unbuckle their car seat then car line may not be for you. Begin working on those skills some other time or find an alternative means to make it happen. Some parents are able to pull to the side or park elsewhere before and after picking up so that they can make sure buckles are safely fastened or unfastened. See what the options are for your school.

Have backpacks ready and goodbyes said and breakfast already eaten before you try to drop them off. Trust me. 

Come prepared

On the other end of car line, when your kids get out of school there is a good chance that they’re going to be feeling the effects of a long day of rules and reinforced behaviors. They’re often tired and hungry and tearful. Take steps to prepare yourself for the reality of what they’re feeling.

     Bring a snack.

My current favorite option are the new KIND Kids bars. The kids feel like they’re getting a sweet treat and these whole grain bars with no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives are easy to grab as I head out the door and don’t interfere with dinner later. String cheese or fruit bars would also be a good option. 

     Set realistic expectations.

Be ready for bickering and whining. Give them a chance to have a breather before asking about their day or fussing at them. If the bad behavior continues, though, consider adjusting bedtimes or talking to the teacher about possible issues during the day. 

     Keep it positive.

Put on their favorite song or just roll down the windows and enjoy the fresh air. You have the ability to set the tone for how this is going to move forward.

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Be patient

The teachers and staff who are working car line want it to be a fast, easy, and safe process. They're doing their best. If there is an issue, send an email later or make an appointment to go in to school. Don't honk or yell or do anything else to embarrass yourself and your kids. It will get better. Eventually. Sort of. And hey – eventually you'll be dealing with them driving themselves, so enjoy it while it lasts. 

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What You Need to Know to Get Through School Car Line Successfully

Sara McTigue is a secret agent, cupcake chef, award winning author, photographer, and PTA mom. At least, that is how things look in her mind. When she isn’t testing the bounds of her imagination, she is a mom to three amazing and hilariously funny children, wife to a charming and handsome man, and thoroughly addicted to reading. With a BS in English Education and an MA in English Literature, words – and their ability to shape our lives and thoughts – are an everyday fascination. Af ... More

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