Carpool Tips for Back to School

Don’t look now, but summer vacation is winding to a close.  If your kids are about to re-enter the school system, it won’t be long until mornings revert to a whirlwind of activity. Getting your kids up and ready for school is hard enough, but then you have to get them there.

Some of you may be lucky, with a school bus picking them up and dropping them off right down the street. But for others, the weekdays may include taxiing the kids to and from school.

With just about a month before the bell starts ringing on another school year (in the Virginia Beach School district at least), now is the perfect time to organize a local carpool. Carpools are a great way to save you time, money and hassle this year. Plus, by cutting down on the number of duplicate trips to and from school, you’re also helping the environment. Here are a few pointers for getting one started.

Pick the Right Participants

If you’re looking to organize a carpool, chances are there are probably lots of other parents from your school that would want in. The goal of any carpool is to get the kids to school on time and safely. You wouldn’t trust the welfare of your kids to just anyone with a car. And some parents, although well-intentioned, always seem to be running a few minutes behind schedule.

Start with your children’s circle of friends. Spread the word to their parents that you’re putting together a carpool. Keep the list of participants small and trustworthy. If you have a few candidates in mind, organize a meeting and get to know the other parents to make sure they’re a good fit.

Get Organized

First, you’ll need to draft a schedule that works for everyone. There are a lot of different ways to create a driving rotation. You could have one parent be responsible for pickup and drop-off on a designated day of the week. Or, maybe parents would prefer to work on a week-to-week basis where one individual is responsible for all of the driving on a given week. Regardless of how the responsibilities are distributed, make sure everyone is pitching in equally and on board with the plan.

Next, you’ll need a way to organize your efforts. Depending on the level of technological savvy of your carpool group, this can be accomplished a couple of different ways. You can meet in person regularly to update schedules, contact info and responsibilities as time goes on. At the very least, make sure every parent understands the pickup and drop-off locations and has contact information for everyone else in the group.

You can also take advantage of technology by creating an online meeting space using the internet and social media. Facebook groups are a great way to keep everyone in the know. You might also consider using smartphone apps like Carpool School Edition or Looptivity. Both were developed to help busy parents with carpool organization, and have several helpful tools for setting up and maintaining your carpool.

Be Safe and Be Fun

When it comes to carpooling, you’ll need to be ready for everything. Make sure each parent’s vehicle is stocked with an emergency roadside kit, first-aid supplies, and snacks for all of the little travelers (be aware of and sensitive to food allergies too). You never know what’s going to happen on the road, so you should plan for contingencies.

Today, it seems like just about every kid has some kind of electronic device that their eyes are glued to. But it’s a good idea to have good conversation starters or road-trip games in your back pocket in case you need to break the ice or keep everyone focused and ready for school.

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