Carpool Rules

carpool sign on dashboard

Last spring, around the time parents stop placing the signs with last names in car windshields at carpool, I posted some important etiquette rules for afternoon pick up at school (see original post here). Since most parents of school aged children are in the middle of back to school, I thought it was worth re-posting my carpool etiquette list.

For those of you who missed the first post, I would like to remind you that I am a carpool caller at my school. I have a Madonna microphone and everything. I was not originally selected for this job. My teammate had been tapped for the position and cried when she found out, so I volunteered to take her place. It got me out of the commons area duty which is where the students sit while waiting to be called. I thought the caller job was better. I may have been wrong.

Rule 1: Most schools give signs with the family’s last name, children’s names, or carpool group information clearly written. The sign is supposed to sit on your dashboard somewhere. Keep your sign in the window of your car ALL year round. When your child is not standing next to you, and you are wearing sunglasses, the carpool caller does not know your name or who you are.

Rule 2: Tip the sign up a little when you get within range of the carpool announcer. If it is sunny, and the light is reflecting off the windshield, we can’t read the sign resting on your dashboard. If it is raining, and the windshield is wet, we can’t read the sign resting on your dashboard.

Basically, anything resting flat on the dashboard is hard to read. Tags that hang from the rearview mirror are easy to read. Parents can hang their tag from a clippy hanger and hook it onto the rearview mirror during carpool or write the last name on a door hanger (like the kind hotels have), and it will improve visibility quite a bit.

carpool sign hanging

Rule 3: No extraneous conversation of any kind. The only time you need to talk is to let the caller know who is riding in your car if you don’t have the sign in the windshield (refer back to Rule 1 and please put the sign back in your windshield). Don’t try to ask questions about homework or have a parent/teacher conference with the carpool caller or the loaders. The caller is counting cars. She/he can’t have a parent teacher conference and announce names at the same time. The loaders are trying to get children in seats as quickly as possible to move the whole line forward.

Rule 4: Stay in your assigned slot unless asked to move forward by a faculty member. If you hear the caller announce your child’s name at position 3, or the green cone, or whatever it is at your school, go to that position and wait. If the cars in positions 1 and 2 load and pull away, continue to wait at station 3 unless a teacher waves you forward. If you pull forward thinking you are making room for more cars, you reshuffle all of the students. I am The caller is still down the block calling numbers based on your number 3 position. Once students are lining up at the wrong carpool stations, it slows down the whole system.

Rule 5: Order Remind your child to listen for his/her name while in the “holding” area.

Rule 6: Teach your child to clip a seatbelt. This rule does not apply to nursery school aged children.

Rule 7: Have children practice getting in the car with their belongings a few times.

P.S. Little kids are not ready for giant wheelie backpacks.

If you need help with morning drop off tips, you can read a totally hilarious (not PG) carpool blog post from the Hot Mess Mom’s perspective by clicking here.

What are your carpool pet peeves? Everyone with school aged children has them.