Stick to the mission in the drop-off line

By Kristen Tribe | Published Wednesday, August 30, 2017

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The start of every school year brings with it a positive outlook, plans to be more organized and the teeth-grinding routine of the school drop-off line.

After nine years dropping off my two darlings, I’ve observed a myriad of bad habits, and I’ve had enough. Let’s get it together, people.

Kristen Tribe

Kristen Tribe

No. 1: When you are dropping off your child, pull forward. These are the two key words to an efficient drop-off process.

Most parents have heard these words, multiple times, in fact. But it’s obvious most parents don’t know what they mean.

Let me help. “Pull forward” means to drive your car as far as you can in the designated drop-off line before stopping to let your child out. You can’t simply stop on a whim. You can’t stop at the corner or under your favorite tree.

And you can’t stop directly in front of the schoolhouse door. That’s not how it works.

From what I’ve seen the last nine years, some parents think their children should be let out at the school door every time. News flash: your kids are no more important than mine or anyone else’s. If they have legs that work, they can walk from the back (or front) of the drop-off line. We’re not talking miles, here.

When a parent stops right in front of the door, the school’s drop-off potential is immediately cut in half because most “lines” are set up to allow six cars or so to drop off at once. When you stop at the door, you back up traffic and delay the whole process.

My only exception to this rule is when it’s raining. If it’s pouring rain, then everybody should get as close to the door as you can (when it’s your turn) and tell your kid to run for it. Nobody wants to walk around in wet sneakers all day. I get it.

No. 2: Make sure when you pull into the school parking lot, your kid is ready to go. Do not pull into the drop-off line and then spend five minutes signing permission slips, giving hugs or reviewing homework. There was time for that at home.

There should be only two actions in that line: door open, kid out.

One morning I sat behind a mother in the elementary drop-off line who, first of all, didn’t pull forward. She put her car in park, got out and opened the back door for her daughter. The little girl got out of the back seat, put her backpack on and gave her mom a big hug.

Then as they stood facing each other, they began to dance it out.

Not acceptable. There is no time for that.

Have your dance parties at home like everyone else.

No. 3: When you drop your kid off, drive away. They get out; you give it the gas.

Do not pull forward only 5 feet while looking over your shoulder to make sure you see them walk through the door. If it’s elementary school, there are usually at least two staff members outside to assist your child with any needs between the car and the front door.

If you’re that worried about them making it inside, you need to park and walk them in. There’s no shame in that. I did that for a few years when my kids were really little. It worked beautifully. I was meeting the needs of my children, but not at the expense of every other parent’s time and space.

And finally, follow the drop-off rules of your child’s campus. I don’t care if they don’t make sense or you have a “better idea.” Most administrators are doing the best they can with the parking lot they’ve got. I’m sure every principal would design their parking lot differently if given the chance, but alas, that was not an option.

So they’re left to figure out how to run hundreds of parents through in a 15-minute time frame. This can’t be easy, so just do what they say.

If everyone’s following the plan, drop-off will naturally go more smoothly. But if you’re the mini-van mom with a wild hair, and you turn left when we’re all supposed to go right, it throws off the whole system. You risk your kid getting hit by a car and then everybody’s day is off to a bad start.

Kristen Tribe is the Messenger’s editor. Her vast drop-off experience includes two elementary schools, two middle school campuses and now a high school.

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