End-of-day pick-up chaos? Here are some solutions.

The Question:

Marilyn Little Huff writes: Do any of your schools have a car rider dismissal procedure that works? We have around 100 students who are car riders and presently load about 8 cars at a time, but it can be very nerve racking! Any suggestions would be appreciated! 

Maxine Turner Wallis

Do the parents place a card in the window with the student’s name on it so that you can see who is coming up the drive? It’s great that you can do 8 at a time. We could only do about 3-4. We also dismissed Kdg. 10 minutes early and asked parents to arrive at that time to speed up the process.

Bethany Bradley

We dismiss the “pick-up” kids out the side door to their parents who are already parked and waiting at the door for them. It goes pretty smoothly. Our principal does not allow anyone to park in that parking lot, so at dismissal time it is only parents.

Lisa Bourquin Bell

At our school we have a Teaching Assistant standing at the front door to make sure kids are going home with the correct parents. Our parents have to park their cars and come in to get K-3rd grade students. 4th-6th grade students may stand outside and look for their parents’ cars. Cars may not go anywhere near the buses nor are they allowed to drive up in front of the front doors.

Helen Harle

We staggered the time and that helped. But still, many parents just come early, and that ties up the line. We make them move up, and stay off to the side, and then they are out of the way. 8 is a lot to handle at a time. How many people are handling dismissal? We do 3-4 at a time as well. That is less stressful. We are all K and about 4 teachers do dismissal.

Nancy Jones 

My school makes parents come in and sign their children out in the office. The parents wait in the hall near the office and Parent Pick Up is announced over the PA about 10 min. prior to bus dismissal. We send the kids down the hall when the announcement is made and they meet up with their parents, who walk them to the cars. We have quite a few parent pick-ups even tho the vast majority of our students have bus service. None of our students walk to school, but some are “School of choice, so their parents have to provide transportation. And for some reason a bunch of other parents always pick up their kids.

Kalina May

Each child that gets picked up has a piece of construction paper with their name on it attached to the passenger visor of their car. As the cars pull up we look for the name and walkie inside where the office calls that child down. We walk up and down the line calling for kids so when their parents pull up to the door the child is there. It goes very smoothly and keeps parents in their car so there is less confusion.

Melissa Boyles

 We do something similar to Kalina where each family has a pick up number. The parents drive in and their number is called. They then wait along the sidewalk for the child to appear and they move on. The students are all waiting in our covered play area in class/grade lines and there is an announcer with a megaphone. It goes quickly. We have 370+ children and it only takes 15-20 minutes.

Dana Sloan Dill

 All of our parents park, meet us in the gym, and sign their kids out in there. It is a great gas saver and the teachers get to interact with parents daily and get their kids signed out quickly.

Chandra Cooper-Herring

We have students wait inside the media center, two teachers use walkie talkies to call their number (that’s inside the car window). We have a long circular drive so by the time the child get outside their car has been pulled around. We’ve found it is so much safer than to have the kids waiting outside. Having them inside actually moves the line so much faster and we are usually done dismissing in less than 10 minutes.

Beth Heidemann Vickery 

We have about 70 kids in our whole school. Perhaps 5 kids get picked up on any given day. I just wait in the front hall the with child or two who might be left after our two buses have gone.

@ Dana…I’m glad your school has an “idle-free”solution. I hope that spreads!

Lindalee Sawyer

We have about 300+ car riders (more than half of the school)..we line up the cars in two rows and fill about 12 cars at a time…all students have assigned numbers and the principal uses a loud speaker to announce the numbers and the kids are escorted to their cars by various members of the staff, while the teachers stand with their class. Our Teacher Assistants help with the dismissal of bus riders.

Emily Ray 


Amber Gossett Kay

 We have 8 cones set up in a half circle drive, as they pull in they have their card in the window and a teacher calls their name and what number cone to go to on the walkie talkie in to the gym where the kids are. The parents are very good about going to their cone number and by the time they get there the kids are standing at the cone waiting. We also have safety patrol (we are K-4th) so the 4th grade safety patrol help load them into the cars.

Marilyn Little Huff

 Thanks! I think our problem is lack of space for parking. I appreciate all or your comments!

Sarah McKenzie Seitz 

We have 300+ car riders and 2 car lanes; 5 teachers are in between the car lanes with walkies & announce names along with where the car will be located once loading is allowed. Each grade level sits in a specific area on the covered sidewalk (k-6) with 1 teacher per grade in charge of the grade level car riders. Once all cars have stopped 1 of the car lane teachers uses the bullhorn to tell the students they may load. We load about 30 cars at the time. The whole process takes about 15 – 20 minutes. Rainy days the grade levels sit inside the main lobby; car lane teachers have rain coats/ponchos & umbrellas and still stand in the car lane.

Amy Bennett 

We dismiss about 14-16 at a time. We use a back car rider line for K-1st students (and siblings) and a front car rider line for 2-5th grade students. We have someone outside with the cars. They direct parents forward and have them stop at the cones. We have someone else outside who collects car rider tags. The teacher who collects tags then takes them inside and and one of the teachers inside calls names out. The kiddos line up and then are all sent out together. The teachers outside then go through the line and get a thumbs up from each parent, then lets that set of cars go. BTW the kiddos inside are sitting in groups based on their last name. We also have walkies to do ID checks and that kind of stuff if/when needed. We are a school of about 800 students and about 300 are car riders. This system has worked FANTASTIC for us! Having two different lines is definitely key!

Lynn Schrader Doiron

  We have about 600 K-2nd graders at our school and about 2/3 – 3/4 of them are car riders. It’s quite a process…

Karen Boisseau

We have the assistants and various other personnel who do not have their own classrooms, such as special ed. teachers, etc. and they take the car pick ups into the cafeteria where the parents have to come in to get their children

Miriam D Hoiem 

At our private school a few years ago we had a parking lot with parents coming across all over the lot. So we had a crosswalk painted and crossing guards right in our private lot. It worked. Then teachers were to take out their own class and line them up and stay with them and cars would pull around in a 2 rows/lanes. Teachers were constantly watching the cars. It worked really well. We could not afford an aide to do the cars, so teachers did the afterschool cars and it took no time at all really. The local police came and gave our school a talk on being crossing guards and many of the 6th graders signed up for this duty and they watched the cars also.

Jamie Hogg 

We have around 200 students we dismiss. It takes us about 15 min. We have a system where each teacher is an icon (Orange Frog for example)..we then make pickup badges and distribute 2/student (if they need more they have to purchase them). They have the Teacher’s Icon with teacher’s name on it and in large black Capital block letters on the remainder of the badge the student’s name. No one is allowed to pickup a student without this badge. It helps with safety and quickness of dismissal. The parents are asked to affix it somehow to the passenger visor and flip the visor down so as they are pulling up we can quickly get the next group to the waiting areas (where paras wait to assist children in the car to speed up the process as well).

Patti Jarboe Dwyer 

Our Lower School has what we call “carline.” Each family is assigned a number and the children line up in the hallway for “silent dismissal.” A member of the faculty, usually the vice principal, uses a walkie-talkie and walks through the parking lot, reading numbers posted in the parents’ windshields (they are parked in an orderly fashion, ready to pull up to the curb.) An older child (6th grade) is just inside the door with the other walkie-talkie and calls the numbers as he or she hears them. As the children hear their numbers, they come out to the curb. We load over 200 children in about 15 minutes. I have been teaching at this school for 19 years and this is the way we have always done it… it works.

Tina Madonna Katella 

We take the kids to the cars. All parents are parked in the lot and must stay by their cars. One teacher per grade walks the children around the lot and then takes her place at the bottom of the lot with a stop sign reminding parents not to drive off while students are still walking. Any students without are ride are brought to the social hall and parents must pick up there.

Denise Baker Dillman

I only have 20-25 kids, but I make laminated name tags at the beginning of the year. The parents are to place these in their windows so that I can see them. (I’m terrible about recognizing cars!) I can usually send 4-5 kids at a time out to their cars as they drive around the circle drive. If someone else picks them up, I tell parents to make multiple tags if they’d like.

Sarah Hudson 

I observed my niece’s school pick up time once. All the moms were in their separate cars, many with the motors running, for 10, 15, even up to 30 minutes! They were each isolated in their vehicles. I thought it wasted gas and was a missed opportunity for social interaction with other adults. I like the idea of having the cars park and the parents walk in. Also I thought that for 15 minutes prior to pick up all those parents could gather to receive info, do something to help the school, exercise, SOMETHING. They were there anyway, why not.

Joanne MacConnell 

We have all card riders – no bus service. We have a staggered dismissal time so that the youngest leave first and then the next few grades , and finally the middle schoolers. It works really well and there is usually no tie ups at car circle.


One thought on “End-of-day pick-up chaos? Here are some solutions.

  1. My husband is developing a records management system that will involve scanning a child’s ID card and the authorized person picking up the child’s ID or car tag. As soon as the ID or car tag is scanned, the name of the child will appear on a screen in the holding area, where a teacher will scan them out of the holding area, therefore removing them from the list of children still awaiting pickup. This will not only allow tracking of the pickup time, but will also document who specifically picked the child up, should there ever be any question. The process will run more smoothly because it simply requires a quick scan. This will also be useful for bus routes. You can create a database of bus riders, and if a child is in line for a bus, his/her id will be scanned. There will be an error if he/she is trying to get onto the wrong bus. They can also scan their id as they are getting off the bus, documenting where and at what time the child got off, thereby lessening the chance for misplacing children on bus routes. There are many other uses as well, such as during a disaster (tornado, earthquake, active shooter), having immediate access to the names of who is inside the school, including visitors. The software is extremely cost effective and user friendly. Check out http://www.creativeschoolsystems.com to see a proto-type or contact him to have a proto-type designed for your specific needs.

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