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Senior Constable Tineke Laing adds her own special touch to teaching road safety in primary schools.

Senior Constable Tineke Laing.

Tineke Laing uses actions and demonstrations to help students remember important things from her road safety lessons. She works as a School Community Officer in central Auckland.

During a vehicle safety lesson, for example, she has a prop – a mock-up of a seatbelt – so youngsters can actually make it click while still in the classroom. Then they file out to the school carpark, where a bigger prop awaits; her patrol car.

“They get to sit in my police car and put their seatbelts on, which they absolutely love. What kid doesn't want to sit in a police car.”

“Another one of the personal touches I came up with was to ensure that kids understood how to wear their seatbelt properly, by doing a heart check.”

Tineke demonstrates how once they have a seatbelt on, they raise their hand across their chest to make sure it’s in place across their heart and up on their shoulder.

“So all my kids learn how to do Constable T's heart check and then they know their seatbelt's on properly.”

The vehicle safety lesson is number four in a series that Tineke bases on the Police national road safety education programme. Here’s how she runs it:

Lesson 1: Classroom talk on keeping themselves safe. Being with a grown up, safe places to cross and how to use them – especially pedestrian crossings and traffic lights.

Lesson 2: Quick classroom revision then practice session in the playground, with chalk and cones to set up crossings.

Lesson 3: Neighbourhood walk that includes any crossing points used by the school, plus looking at driveways and other dangers.

Lesson 4: Vehicle safety.

“I know it works because I've had kids come up to me years later saying ‘Oh, you're Constable T, you, you taught me how to cross the road.’ And so we have a little chat about what they can remember.

“I find it really heartwarming. The kids learn the information, they're very clever and completely understand what we're talking about, because it's all at an age-appropriate level.”

Working with teachers

Tineke says police officers don’t want their visit to be a ‘one-hit wonder’ so follow-up by teachers is important to ensure the learning sinks in and makes it home.

“I have printouts that I leave with the classes. I have posters of Constable T's heart check. And I have a basic letter the children can take home to whānau to say this is what we've been learning in class today.”

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