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A grandparent's guide to the school run

30th June 2021


The school run is often a chore for many, but for grandparents who may not have been able to see their grandchildren over the course of the coronavirus lockdowns or like to spend time with their grandkids on a regular basis, passing over the school run baton to them can be a lovely idea.

With restrictions easing and grandparents now able to see their grandchildren more often, the idea of the school run may seem more appealing and a lovely way to connect to the little ones. This article takes a look at some top tips for those looking to take on the school run duties and some of the things you should remember and check before heading off bright and early.

Top tips for the school run

Be prepared


It goes without saying but making sure you are prepared in advance for the school run is important. The main task is to get your grandchildren to school on time, happily and with everything they need for the day. Sarah Hughes from the blog The Good Thing Is Though told us a little more about the best way to make sure the children are at school on time without any fuss:

“My top tip for getting kids to school on time is to forget the whole ‘we need to foster their independence’ thing! On a school morning, there is just no time for any of that! In my experience, it’s best to do as much for them as you can so they only need to step out of the door and into the school. Controversial in terms of child development I know… but way less stressful!”

Planning ahead of time is a great way to ensure a smooth school run, so if you’re not spending the night before school with your grandchildren then ask their parents to make sure everything is ready and waiting at the door so it is a case of picking it up and heading out the door.

Make sure the school are aware


If the children have always been dropped off at school by their parents, a babysitter or friends, then make sure you make the school aware that you will be dropping them off and picking them up. The school may only release children to people they know are family or who they have been made aware of, as Vicky Smith from The Mummy Bubble explains further:

“Next, it’s important that you know which door your grandchild will be coming out of, as many schools have multiple doors and different classes depart from different exits. Finally double-check with the parents that they have let the school know you are coming, as schools will only release children to people, they are familiar with or where they have specific instructions from the parents or guardians. Most importantly enjoy it, have a chat with your grandkids after picking them up, ask them all about what they’ve been up to and be prepared to carry lunch boxes, water bottles and drawings on the way home!”

Make sure you ring the school and let them know that their grandparents will be picking them up and dropping them off, and let them know what days you will be attending also.

Make sure you know the school guidelines


Some may not know that there are school guidelines that all parents and grandparents are required to follow when doing the school run, but there is and you will need to be told about these.

“Helping out with the school run is a great opportunity for grandparents to spend more quality time with their grandchildren and to help their own child too by taking over some of the childcare responsibilities,” Petra from A Mum Reviews comments. She continues: “The walk, bus ride or drive to or from school provides a wonderful opportunity to chat with your grandchildren about all kinds of things and connect in a different way. The main thing to remember is to know the schedule well and to be aware of the school's guidelines on pick-up and drop-off and to respect these.”

Especially with Covid still affecting the way things are done around the country, knowing the pickup and drop off rules at the school you will be visiting is important. You need to make sure you check which doors the children should enter and exit from and where you should be waiting to collect them. Karen from the blog The 3am Diary continues to explain a little more.

“One big tip right now I give my mum is to tell her the entrances/exits to the school, as it can be quite daunting with hundreds of parents all heading in different directions, particularly right now through Covid when rules are different. I also need to make sure we tell the school so that they know she is being picked up by someone else as the teacher will not recognise her.”

Set up a routine


Children thrive from routine and it is also an attribute that many older adults work well alongside too, so planning the week ahead and setting up a routine with your family is a good idea. Dann from the duo blog Jupiter Hadley says that setting up regular days every week means that everyone knows who is doing the school run and on what days, he continues:

“One good way to start getting involved in a school run is to set up a regular day, like every second Tuesday, to pick up the children and go around yours for dinner or something. This will allow you to become a regular face at the school and give children a routine. It’s far too easy for parents who have children in school to get so caught up in their time with the children or their lives, that visiting grandparents and family gets pushed aside. Being involved in something that happens regularly, like the school run, allows you to have to see them regularly and fits around the schedule.”

Parents are often juggling work alongside looking after the kids and other commitments, so when you plan to take the kids on the school run, why not discuss making it a regular thing and plan a few days a week you would like to spend time with your grandchildren, this is a tip Claire from On The Soap Box recommended:

“If you’re looking to get involved on the school run on a regular basis, then it’s important to be consistent. Often, parents are juggling work around childcare responsibilities, so if you say that you’re happy to collect on a Tuesday, try to keep to that. Of course, things sometimes come up and make a particular date difficult, but you should try to stick to the routine as much as you can. Otherwise, your kids might decide that they have to make alternative arrangements. If you’re not able to make a regular commitment, but you still want to get involved with the school run, offer to pick your grandkids up occasionally. Perhaps you could offer to give them their tea or to take them to the park after school. Your grandchildren will grow up quickly, so if you’re willing and able, it’s great to get involved with the school run. It will also provide you with some precious one-on-one time with your grandchildren, without their parents around.”

Get to know your timings


Getting to know your timings is an essential part of the school run. If your grandchildren are at nursery, primary or even secondary school, all the drop-off and pick up times are different, so getting to know them before heading out for the first time is probably a good idea.

"My parents have five grandsons - my two nephews aged 9 and 10, and my three boys aged 6-, and 4-year-old twins. They've always been massively involved and have been doing school pick-ups for the eldest three once a week since they all started school. They're total experts now. I would say the main things are to be organised in knowing things like timings, and where the kids come out,” says Helen from Twins, Tantrums and Cold Coffee.

Helen continues and explains why working out your timings is essential to avoid stress and upset: “Sounds like an obvious thing, but it seems to change so often, especially at the moment with Covid and bubbles. Get them to let the children know exactly where they'll be standing (if it's not a queue at the classroom door scenario), so they'll know where to find them. My parents would also say to get there early. I think they probably get there TOO early, but it's all about bagging that all-important parking space, isn't it? And usually, if they're grandparents and retired, they've got more time to be able to get there 20 minutes early and wait, rather than working parents. Also, make sure the teachers know the grandparents and that it's them doing the pick-up that day. It saves time having to explain who they are each day.”

Vicky from The Mummy Bubble also spoke to us about the importance of knowing your timings but also to ensure you are allowing enough time so that no members of the party become stressed or upset.

“When it comes to the school run grandparents should first of all be clear on the time, they need to be there plus any issues they may face on the journey. The roads around many schools become packed with parked cars around school collection time so it’s important to be aware of where available parking is, how long it can take to find a space and how long you may need to walk.”

Why should grandparents get involved in the school run?


Now that the article has covered some of the main points to think about if you want to start taking care of the school run once or twice a week, attentions turn to the importance of grandparents getting involved with the kids and their school life. Below are just some of the reasons getting involved in your grandchildren’s life can benefit you.

A way to keep an interest in the children’s school life

As Helen from Twins, Tantrums and Cold Coffee explains below, getting grandparents involved in the school run is a lovely way for them to stay updated on the children’s school life, their achievements and how they are developing:

"My parents love being involved, but in a nice helpful way, rather than an annoying pushy way. They like to take an interest in what all the boys are doing at school, help with the reading or homework. They even did one day of homeschooling (my then five-year-old) a week during lockdown! By them going to the school and being used to that environment really helps."

Offers regular catchups

As mentioned above, routine is great for younger children, but it also really benefits the older members of the family and the school run is a way for them to keep in touch with the grandchildren regularly.

Time to bond with the grandchildren

Getting involved in the school run is a wonderful way to bond with your grandchildren. Many grandparents and grandchildren were separated for long periods of time with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic so there is no time like the present to get involved again. Vicky Smith explains how she loves that grandparents get special time to bond with their grandchildren on the school run:

“Getting involved in the school run is a wonderful way for grandparents to bond with their grandkids and help parents out too! Grandparents play a hugely important role not just in providing kids with a loving childhood but also in nurturing children’s learning. They provide vital emotional and practical support - bringing their own life experience to support what parents and teachers are trying to help kids to achieve in their learning.”

To make the children happy

Obviously, the children’s happiness is essential and the school run is a great way for them to smile and laugh with their grandparents, as Sarah Hughes explains in a little more detail.

“I think it’s important for grandparents to get involved in activities like the school run as the children absolutely love it! I know how thrilled my three boys are if I announce that instead of boring old me; they are being collected by super Nan or silly grandad! It’s also a huge help to parents if that responsibility can be offloaded even just one day per week.”

If you have grandchildren and you have missed seeing them over the last year and a half, then why not think about planning to take them to and from school for a few days of the week. Not only will it help keep you happy, but it will also no doubt put a smile on your grandchildren’s faces. If getting out or around your house is something you struggle with, then check out our range of mobility aids including curved stair lifts and walk in showers and baths.

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only and are up to date as of the time of publishing