Preschool safety: Tips and Best Practices

Preschool teachers not only need to help children learn and develop, prepare lessons and activities, but also make sure that their students are safe in and out of the classroom. 

A survey conducted among 162 parents with preschoolers found that safety and security, as well as hygiene were factors that influence a parent’s choice of preschool

Amid the many things that have to be done, student safety can easily slip their minds. However, it is something that should be on top of the priority list. 

A well organized classroom with safely guidelines in place will help to ensure that children are safe at all times. Here are some ways to reduce accidents and keep learning environments as safe as possible. 

Preschool classroom safety checklist (indoor)

Here are some precautions that can help keep young children safe in preschool. 

  1. Dangerous supplies should be kept out of reach

Keeping dangerous items out of reach is a simple yet important step to a safe classroom. Scissors, glue, pins, staplers, sharp and small objects as well as poisonous materials should be kept well out of reach on a high shelf or in a locked cupboard. 

If these items or materials are being used during lessons or craft time, it is important to talk about using them safely with your students. Ensure that the children are never left unattended when they are using these items. 

  1. Room design

When it comes to room design, ensure that there is nothing that prevents you from seeing your students at all times. There should not be bookshelves or giant toys that are blocking a teacher’s view. 

Shelves and large objects should preferably be secured against the wall to prevent it from obstructing your view and falling over. 

Additionally, the room design should be optimized to help children pay attention in class. Too much open space might cause children to run around while too little room may restrict their natural tendency to explore. 

  1. Wash hands regularly

Hand washing is one of the standard procedures that are simple yet effective in keeping children safe and healthy.

It should be part of the daily classroom routine. Hands should be washed before and after meals, after going to the bathroom as well as after messy play.

To keep children safe from germs, you can also have them wash their hands when they head back to the classroom after time outside. 

Ensure that the water temperature is not too hot as young children have delicate skin. 

  1. Practise emergency plans

While we hope that emergencies do not happen, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Fire drills, lockdown drills and other emergency plans will not be of much use if the children are sobbing when an emergency takes place. Emergency plans should be practised regularly so that your preschoolers are well prepared. 

Talk to the children about what to do and role play the entire event. It is best to practise the whole sequence of steps from the ringing of the fire alarm, moving out of the classroom in an orderly manner, assembling in the pre-planned location and returning to the classroom when it is safe.  

  1. Setting boundaries

Rules and boundaries will help tremendously in keeping children safe. If a rule is broken, you should talk to the child about the boundary and follow through with an appropriate consequence. This will help children to remember the importance of keeping safety rules.  

For example, a ‘holding hands when outside’ rule will prevent children from running into the parking lot or in front of a car. If a child oversteps this boundary, the consequence to his or her action can be to hold the teacher’s hand instead of their classmate’s hand. This will help the children understand and remember that rules and boundaries are in place to keep them safe. 

  1. Sanitize everything

Besides hand washing, sanitizing will also help to keep germs at bay. Tables, chairs, toys and all surfaces should be sanitized at the end of the day.

While cleaning and wiping will remove dirt and debris, sanitizing kills off the germs. This will reduce illnesses and keep children as healthy as possible.

  1. Clean and safe floors

Floors should be clean, clear and safe. Remove toys or items that may cause the children (or you!) to trip and fall. It’s best to involve the children in the cleanup process so that they learn how to put things away in the right place. 

Rugs should be taped to the floor to ensure that they do not curl, causing the children to slip. Check the floors regularly for small items as they can be a choking hazard. Remember that kids spend a lot of time on the floor and as such, cleaning the floor regularly will prevent unwanted accidents. 

  1. Communication with parents

We might not realize how much open communication with parents can help to keep preschoolers safe. 

Parents will know that you take their children’s safety seriously when they are updated on safety guidelines, classroom policies as well as emergency information. 

When you are familiar with your students’ families, you will also be able to spot suspicious persons vs a parent or a family member who comes to school. This will allow you to take swift and effective measures to keep the students safe. 

  1. Mealtime safety

Mealtimes should be well organized to ensure that it runs smoothly. Meals should be safe and healthy. 

If meals are provided in school, common foods that cause allergies such as nuts, should not be on the menu. If meals are packed from home, parents should be notified which foods are not allowed. Fruits such as grapes should be cut in half to avoid choking. 

Utensils should be clean and water pure so that children do not fall ill. If mealtimes are in the classroom, it is a good opportunity to have the children learn about the importance of cleaning up, especially if there is a spill. 

Outdoor safety rules for preschoolers

Children love the outdoors. It is a place for adventure, exploration discovery. However, it’s also easy to get into trouble when kids are outdoors. Here are some safety tips/rules that help keep preschoolers safe.

  • Establish safe play areas outdoors – Make sure that the children know which areas they are allowed to play in and which areas are unsafe. 
  • Never wander off alone – Remind children that they should never go anywhere on their own. 
  • Be aware of surroundings – Common play areas can have safety hazards. The area should be examined for dangers before children play in them. 
  • Wear shoes – Shoes will protect their feet from safety hazards such as glass and dirty surfaces. 
  • Never talk to strangers – Preschoolers should be taught ‘stranger danger’. Never speak to a stranger no matter how friendly they may be. Head inside straight away or run if a stranger approaches them. 
  • Drink water – Ensure that children who are playing outdoors have property hydration
  • Do not consume anything found outdoors – Teach children that it is not safe to eat berries, plants or mushrooms that they find outdoors. They may be poisonous and are definitely dirty!

Teaching preschool safety rules

Preschoolers love to explore and might not totally grasp the importance of safety rules as yet. Here’s how you can help them to remember rules and boundaries to prevent unwanted accidents. 

Model it out

Children observe and copy. Thus, one of the best ways to help children learn is to model out the behavior. 

For example, when cleaning up a spill, you can talk about floor safety. Have the children help with cleaning it up while explaining why it’s important to do so – that by cleaning up the spill, others will not slip and fall. 

Post it up

Post up the safety rules where you are most likely to need them so that it is part of your school environment. Classrooms, playgrounds, hallways and other large group areas are ideal locations. 

Having the rules posted up will allow you to refer to them quickly and easily. It’s best to include pictures and drawings that describe the safety rules so that they can understand and remember them. 

Remind and reinforce

Besides posting it up, you will have to teach, remind and reinforce the rules. Here are some ways you can encourage your preschoolers to follow the safety rules:

  • Have class discussions – Talk about why the rules are important and situations where they apply. 
  • Roleplay – Have your students act out the rules or safety drills. 
  • Play games – Games help children to learn, practice and remember the rules.
  • Read stories – Children love stories so you can help them to remember by reading them stories about classroom safety. 
  • Refer to the rules when children overstep boundaries – This will help you keep things positive and redirect them to the appropriate behavior

Fun preschool safety ideas

Children learn better when they are engaged during lessons. As such, activities, games, songs and crafts can help them to remember safety rules and concepts. 

Preschool safety activities and games

Hot and cold – Hot items can be dangerous as they can cause burns. You can teach children the difference between hot and cold by getting them to stick red dot stickers on pictures of hot items and blue dot stickers on cold ones. 

Red light, green light – You can teach road safety by playing the red light, green light game. Have the children run around while someone yells ‘red light’ or ‘green light’. The children have to stop for ‘red light’ and only start moving when they hear ‘green light’. 

Stop, drop, roll – This is a fire safety activity that teaches children how to put flames out if their clothes or any part of their body catches fire. You can place orange ‘flames’ on them and show them how to stop, drop and roll on the floor or carpet to put the flames out. You can also demonstrate how to cover their faces with their hands while they are rolling. 

Fire escape practice – hang up some sheets around the classroom roughly about 2 feet above the floor. Children can practice crawling low under the ‘smoke’ as a fire escape practice.

999 practice – In this activity, children will learn how to call 999 or the local emergency number. Go over what to say on the phone during an emergency. 

Preschool safety crafts 

Fire Engine – Have children glue pre cut circular and rectangular shapes to resemble a fire truck. You can use yarn to make the fire hose and straws to make a ladder. You can then have a discussion on fire safety. 

Traffic lights – This craft can be used to teach road safety. All you need are old shoeboxes, black, red, yellow and green construction paper. Wrap the shoe box in the black construction paper and have the children cut and paste green, yellow and red circles to make a traffic light. Be sure to use preschool safety scissors if the children are cutting the circles!

First Aid Kit – This craft introduces children to medical emergencies. Cover old shoe boxes with white construction paper and have the children glue a first aid cross on the cover. You can add items that can be found in a doctor’s bag that are suitable for children to play with, such as cotton balls and band aids. 

Preschool safety songs

Children love action songs and learn well with simple, catchy tunes. Here are a few songs that can help teach children about safety. 

Twinkle twinkle traffic light

(sung to “Twinkle Little Star”)
Twinkle twinkle traffic light
Standing on the corner bright
When its green its time to go
When its red its stop you know
Twinkle twinkle traffic light
Standing on the corner bright

I Am A Fireman

(sung to “I’m A Little Teapot”)
I am a fireman dressed in red.
With my fire hat on my head.
I can drive the firetruck, fight fire too,
And help make things safe for you.

What Happens If There Is A Fire

(sung to “Bingo”)
What happens if there is a fire ?
Do you know what to do ? Oh !
GET OUT ! QUICK , GET OUT ! get out ! Quick ,get out ! get out ! QUICK, get out !
Stay very low and go. GO !
What happens if there is a fire ?
Do you know what to do ? Oh!
STAY OUT ! DON’T GO BACK ! stay out !
Don’t go back ! stay out ! Don’t go back !
Don’t go back in the house. No !
What happens if there is a fire?
Do you know what to do ? Oh !
GET HELP ! CALL FOR HELP ! get help ! call for help ! get help ! call for help !
call 911 for help ! oh!

Wash Your Hands 

(Sung to “Row, Row Row Your Boat”)
Wash, wash, wash your hands
Play our handy game.
Rub and scrub, and scrub and rub.
Germs go down the drain.  HEY!
Wash, wash, wash your hands
Play our handy game.
Rub and scrub, and scrub and rub.
Dirt goes down the drain.  HEY!

Seat Belt Safety 

(Sung to “Mary had a little lamb”)
Here is how we buckle up, buckle up, buckle up
Here is how we buckle up, Listen for the snap!
Put the seatbelt ‘cross your lap,
‘cross your lap, ‘cross your lap.
Put the seatbelt cross your lap and
LISTEN FOR THE SNAP!

Preschool safety during Covid-19 pandemic

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, parents are still struggling to take care of their children even while they have to manage their work responsibilities from home. 

As such, many preschools have taken steps to ensure that their premises stay Covid-free with general safety measures. These include reorganization of rooms and management of movement, social distancing, as well as health and hygiene measures. Children and staff are to wear masks or face coverings at all times while they are in school. 

If you are searching for a nursery, daycare or preschool in Malaysia that adheres to the safety measures Cherie Hearts International Preschool is one that does it with excellence. 

Conclusion

Children love to explore and may not be aware of the dangers in their surroundings. Safety rules and boundaries will help to keep them safe both in and outside of the classroom. While preschools may not yet grasp or totally understand what is safe or dangerous, you can help them stay safe by regularly reminding and reinforcing these boundaries.  

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