CARS.COM — The summer days are growing shorter, which means it's nearly time for the kids to head back to school. Of course, you've got to help the kids get to school, and for many families that means carpooling. Unfortunately you probably won't be carpooling in style (and song) like late-night host James Corden, but you can make your school carpool the envy of all the other parents with our helpful tips.
- Get your fellow carpooling parents together so you can plan the important stuff such as the route, the schedule (especially for morning pickup) and the rules that both kids and parents must follow, such as being on time.
- Make sure that there are enough seats in everyone's cars for all the kids in the carpool; there should be only one child per seat — no doubling up, even if it's a short ride.
- Create a group email or group text for easy communication and have an emergency contact list in case of, well, an emergency.
- Assign the same day or an entire week to one parent to avoid scheduling snafus.
- Especially in the beginning of the school year, remind kids during morning drop-off who's picking them up after school.
In the Car
- School-aged children who are shorter than 4 feet 9 inches must ride in booster seats, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's recommendations. Check out the Bubble Bum and mifold boosters — both of these space savers are portable and compact when not in use.
- Only kids 13 years old and older may ride in the front passenger seat — everyone else must ride in the backseat.
- Keep the car in Park until everyone is buckled up.
- Obey the speed limits and follow instructions from crossing guards and carpool-lane monitors.
Drop-off and Pickup
- Remind your charges who will be picking them up in the afternoon.
- Make sure kids exit and enter the car from the curbside, and have older children wait on the curb to ensure the younger ones get out safely.
- Glance into the backseat to make sure no backpacks or lunches have been left behind.
- Keep driver distractions to a minimum; the best school carpool lanes run with military precision, but others can be chaotic at best. Don't tune the radio or glance at your cellphone while navigating the carpool lane.
Keep your cool as you ease back into carpool duty this fall, and remember it won't last forever. All too soon your kids will be asking to drive themselves to school.