Wednesday, 9 October 2013

School Car Parks

School car parks cause issues the world over it seems - first world problems maybe, but problems none the less. Seems no school anywhere has enough car parking spots for drop off or pick up.

In years gone by, most mums weren't employed outside the home, they would stroll to school early, meet friends on the playground and make small talk while waiting for the kids to run out of school ready for what ever the afternoon had in store for them at the local park, or playground. Some children might have gone home for afternoon tea before being taken to brownies or cubs, maybe a ballet lesson, or football training.

If was safe for kids to walk home, or catch the local bus.

Now days, with double income families, the streets not being as safe as they were, the demise of bus passes, or the amount of extra curricular activities, parents/guardians/grandparents etc collect the kids, usually by car and ferry them to the next location before heading home for homework/dinner/bath and bed.

We should all be walking more, and relying less on our cars.

Public transport should be affordable and easily accessible.

We don't and it isn't (well, guess the public transport thing really depends on where you live)

MissM's attended 5 schools in 5 countries in her short life. Goodness knows how many she'll attend by the time she graduates.

Not one school has had ample parking for parents to collect the kids.

It's always been first-come-first-parked - be it on the street, or in the local car park, or on the school property or in the car line up ready for MissM to jump in.

The easiest we've had is living within walking distance to Montessori (tho the Irish weather stopped us walking most mornings), and walking to YIS was fun too (tho again, the weather meant we caught taxi's a lot of mornings too)

Those of us who like to enjoy a hassle free drop off or pick up it means arriving at school at least 20-30 minutes before the bell goes to ensure you get a parking spot. How mad is that? I can think of much better ways to spend that time first thing in the morning!

That's just over 3 hours a week of sitting and waiting!

In the mornings, MissM and I drill times tables or revise spelling lists if we arrive too early. You can imagine MissM prays for a slow trip every day.  The afternoons are a great time to ensure the book for book club is read, or for answering emails, or playing a few frustrating rounds of Candy Crush.

We have been asked to pick the kids up from the classroom, rather than the playground which means it's a quick arrival/exit to ensure the corridor isn't crowded, so there's minimal time to chat. Also as the kids are doing various activities after school, I am only there two afternoons a week as pick up time varies, as does where to collect MissM.

Either way, every day is a fight for a car spot, especially with over 100 teaching staff at school.

G tried to find a house within walking distance but there were none on the market when he was looking.

I know that I could park in a suburban street and walk a ways to school faster and with less hassle, but MissM's bag is so bloody heavy it's prohibitive.  Maybe when we find a wheelie-bag we will.

From recent comments on FB from friends in various parts of the world, it seems this problem is global and very few schools have come with up adequate solutions which is rather odd as several parents I've met have had very bright ideas which were worthy of an attempt.

The closest to a good solution was at YIS where by you could drive and park in a single file of cars by the school gate, and keep your engine running. The kids would gather inside the gate, and be escorted to the car by a teacher as the car neared the gate. No one was allowed to run up the street if they say their car .... you had to wait til the car reached the gate.

This system worked really well - and if you were running late it didn't matter cos you joined the line in the comfort that the kids were safe behind the gate, with the teachers patiently waiting.

Wonder what the perfect solution would be?

Is there one?

All I know is, that without the extra time every day I might never finish my book!

With friendship