This post is updated from its original post in December, 2018.

As many of our Possip schools in the South finish up their first week of school – car lines and buses are top of mind for schools and parents.

First, know this. 

Over our 3 years working with over 100 schools and over 30,000 parents, we have not seen a school that did not have any car line or bus issues.  That’s not to say that parents shouldn’t keep a high bar or schools shouldn’t try to make improvements. 

It is to say that painful car lines and buses are a bit like traffic – no one is to blame, and yet everyone is to blame.

Part of what Possip aims to do is tap into the positive power of gossip to help schools and parents.  We hear from parents A LOT about car lines and drop off, especially in the early weeks of school. Many of us are parents ourselves, so we know the feeling of waiting in line. That said, we’ve also worked in schools – so we know that there are many variables.

We have a few tips for parents and schools!

Parents:

  1. Have a sense of humor! There are a lot of funny memes and videos online (like this one: https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Family/video/moms-back-school-drop-off-video-left-us-57171009 )
  2. Make car line meet your schedule: Some carlines run 15-20 minutes. You don’t have to be the first one to the carline. Schedule it so you get there at the end of the carline!
  3. Consider parking and walking: If you don’t have the patience to wait in line, see if there is an easy way to park and walk. Getting fresh air and spending time with your kids walking can slow down the pace of the day.

Schools, here are some tips we’ve seen from schools who do carline well:

  1. Put teachers and staff on carline duty.  This way parents don’t have to get out of the car but rather can just have their kids sent to them.  At one school I talked to multiple teachers and staff members who said carline duty or pick-up duty was one of their highs. They loved the opportunity to see families.  Now they’ll have to see car duty as more than a purely logistical task.  It has to be one of joy.  At one school the French teacher is out there saying “Bon jour” every morning.  We laughed as one kid got out of the car and asked how to insult his sister in French.
  2. Use cones to direct where you want traffic to go – and have signs ready to go and visible directing traffic.  You can intersperse directive signs with encouraging ones (with quotes, quick sayings “We love you!” or “Your day will be great!”)
  3. Put staff in brightly colored vests (of course you’ll want to determine what makes sense based on the location – but if there are lots of people out, especially with high schoolers, having staff in colored vests can help differentiate who is running carline and who is walking.
  4. Use cell phones, GroupMe chat groups instead of walkie-talkies to text information.  Have parents use placards with their kids’ names. As parents come to pick up kids text someone inside with the order of kids who should be coming out based on the order of parents in the car lines.
  5. Create a designated space for parents who prefer to park and walk.  Some parents aren’t in a rush and may be content parking and walking.  Give them some direction of where they can go.
  6. Create a separate space for each group of transportation (buses, walkers, and car pick up).  Consider letting your bus riders dismiss even a few minutes before the bell rings to get them cleared out and on their way.

We know drop off and pick up is no small feat.  It is driven by the actions of parents and families, strangers, physical facility constraints, and even weather!  So we don’t have a silver bullet – but wanted to share some of what we have see.