One mom explains how to prepare your child to memorize personal information in the case of an emergency or getting lost.
Despite having technologies that help keep kids safe, there’s always a risk that your child might get confused, lost, or separated. Kids must be prepared for these scenarios, and in a time where apps are helping us store information, it’s less likely that your child will memorize their home address. Phone numbers are on speed dial and, with the use of smart phones, we tend to change numbers more often as we update our technology.
Is it worth teaching our children personal information?
The answer is yes. It’s not only worth it; it’s necessary.
Why teach personal information?
It’s important for your child to know personal information in case they may need to identify themselves when not in the presence of a trusted adult. For instance, if your child gets lost, they could give details like their name, their parents’ names, and what their phone number is. Of course, your child needs to learn who to share this information with. I explain safety in the tips below.
Knowing personal information leads to functional independence in all children, but it’s also important for the child diagnosed with special needs as they learn to become more dependent on their ability to make judgments and fend for themselves.
The tips in this article are intended to be taught to all children, including those with special needs.
The private information you need to teach
Your child should know these pieces of information:
- Parents’ names
- Home address
- Home telephone number or at least one parents’ cellular number
- School name
How to teach personal information to kids
1- Teach safety first.
While it’s important for your child to memorize their personal information, it’s equally important to teach when to share it and when to keep it private. Talk with your child about appropriate times to share their information by using the terms “personal information” (first name, favorite movie, best vacation ever, etc.) and “private information” (phone number, address, parents’ names, etc.)
Here are two main guidelines, but you know your child best and should always instruct him based on his maturity level:
- If lost or in danger– to a figure of authority such as a police officer or fire fighter in uniform. This can be tricky to teach to children because we know that adults can easily con a child, but we hope that in the event our child is lost or hurt, the adult who finds them will call the police department and proceed in the legal way. Teach your child to ask for a police officer when you are not around and to share their private information then.
- Never online – not even to family and friends. Online safety needs to be taught by teaching your child about the online footprint we leave when posting anything on the internet, even if we believe it’s on a safe site. Also, explain that others can impersonate a family member and to therefore never share private details to anyone who asks for it online. Teach your child to always check with you first.
2- Make learning personal and private information fun.
Here are ways you can help your child learn and memorize personal and private information:
- Make an “All About Me” booklet or lapbook.
- Make a student ID card (This is for practice purposes and for safety reasons should not be carried by your child.)
- Make a passport (Note: This is a fake passport, do not try to get your child onto an aircraft with this piece of identification!)
- Play a game like Personal Information Battleship, Chutes and Ladders, Tic-Tac-Toe or Bingo, or Checkers.
- Use conversation cards at the dinner table.
3- Use technology to teach – with caution.
Despite my warning above about sharing private information online, some children learn and remember best with technology. You can use tech gadgets offline to help your child remember private information.
How to use technology to help kids memorize personal information:
- In a Word doc, have your child type his private information. Do not print.
- Create a fake fillable form in Google Forms. Do not save the data, simply delete the cells and have your child start again next time.
While there is a fine line between what and how to share personal and private information, tell your child that if he is unsure, he should trust his gut and check with a trusted adult first. When children are aware of the risks, they are more likely to proceed with caution.
Keep the strategies for memorizing fun and hands-on. Before long, your child will be reciting important details to you and you’ll know they’re ready in case of an emergency.
About the All-Star Blogger
Gabriella Volpe is a homeschooling mom of a child with special needs, a certified teacher and the homeschool consultant for families of children with special needs. She knows first-hand what it means to struggle with educational planning for a child who does not fit the system and is limited by resources and products intended for children without disabilities. She helps parents find ways to adapt and modify the curriculum so they don’t have to spend hours figuring it out on their own. She also helps after-schooling families of children with special needs navigate their way around the homework hours. You can find her at www.GabriellaVolpe.com