Carpooling makes a lot of sense. Putting more people in fewer cars saves a great deal of time and gasoline. Carpooling is especially helpful if you have children who attend different schools. Here are some specifics on how carpooling saves time and money.

Saving Time

It takes a great deal of time for every parent in your neighborhood to get up, drive his or her children to school, drive home, then drive out again to pick their children up from school. Then the parents have to drive the same children to after-school activities. A carpool "pools" everyone's time, meaning less overall time is taken up getting kids to school each day.

Saving Money

Saving fuel is the biggest source of money saving in a carpool. Even if the carpooling parent has a large vehicle, it uses less fuel overall to transport multiple kids in one vehicle. Time is money, and carpools save both.

Saving the Environment

Fewer cars on the road mean fewer emissions. Consolidating school kids into one vehicle simply means one vehicle emitting exhaust fumes rather than three or four.

Things to Consider

* Safety is a priority. Make sure that each child knows who is getting him or her each day. You might want to consider implementing a password that changes periodically. Also, be sure that the vehicles used to transport the kids are equipped with appropriate booster seats and car seats.

* Clear rules and guidelines need to be established among all members of the carpool group. A protocol needs to be in place in case of illness, tardiness, emergencies, and other unexpected situations.

* Be willing to be flexible. You may have an idea about how a carpool is supposed to work, but everyone's schedules may not fit your idea. Be willing to try some different things. For example, maybe one parent who has a van can do all the driving in exchange for something else, such as gas money. Maybe someone would be willing to mow lawns or rake leaves in exchange for the carpool service. Even homework help could be bartered for carpool time. Don't be afraid to get creative.

"Carless" Carpool

You can organize a "walk pool" or "bike pool" for your kids, too. With an adult accompanying them, groups of kids in your neighborhood can walk or ride their bikes to school. The adult who accompanies them can switch each week, day, or whatever works. This can double as a great exercise program, and helps kids get their energy out before class.

After School

Carpooling does not have to be just from school and back. It can be a great benefit to parents to have carpools to extracurricular activities. Coordinate with the participating parents about after-school activities.

If your child is in the school band, for example, and they have practice after school, and another parent's child plays football and they, too, have practice after school, one parent should be able to pick up both children after school. If another child in the carpool has a piano lesson after school, the driving parent can take the child to his or her lesson during practice.


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