how to teach your preschool child or kindergartener to dial 911

Recently my friend Lyssa (pronounced same as my name!) posted on her Facebook wall that she had taught her young son to dial 911. I was instantly jealous! I can barely dial 911 on my phone. How in the world am I going to teach my son to do it? I am new to the smart phone world and I have to stop and think, each and every time I make a call. I have to slide to unlock, look for the phone icon and tap it, then tap the icon for the dial pad. And depending on what setting it was left on, it may just automatically redial the last number I dialed…so I have to double check that. Anyway, when Lyssa said she had taught her son how to do it, I asked if she would share her tips and she graciously agreed. She’s a kindergarten teacher, so if anyone can do this, she can. She also has an awesome blog called My Mommy Reads which has many great posts about reading and literacy. At the end of this post, I’ve also included a cute “Dial 911” song I found online.

black rotary old fashioned phone

Was so much easier to do on this phone!

I worry a lot. In fact, if I was a character in a book, I might be Wemberly from Kevin Henkes’ Wemberly Worried. I was actually getting better…and then I became a mother. It’s like worrying is my full time job and everything else is overtime!

So when I read the story a few weeks ago about the child saving her parent’s life by calling 911, I knew it was time.

I sat T down on the couch and we had a conversation about emergencies. He knew some, as we have talked before about what we will do if there is an emergency at home or somewhere else. We have plans in place for everything!

We have not talked about 911 though. I asked him if he had heard of it and he said no. I told him that 911 is the phone number for the police. That sparked many questions and I answered all of them. We talked about why someone would call and how the whole thing works.

Then I handed him my phone and told him to show me how to call someone. He swiped his finger across my iPhone and pushed the phone icon. (I didn’t know he knew that!) I then showed him how to push the 9, 1, and 1. I pointed out the green button and told him that would be the button to push next. I cleared it out and then did the whole thing a few more times.

When N came home, we did the same thing with his phone. We showed him on the house phone, too. (Yes, we still have one of those.)

I’ll randomly ask him the number for emergencies just to make sure he remembers. I hope and pray he never needs to dial it, but at least him knowing the number is one less thing I’ll have to worry about!

Thanks for the information Lyssa! I think like anything else with our kids, we may have to modify it for special needs. But this is an important life skill, so ask your child’s teacher or behavior specialist on how your child can master the skill of Dialing 911.

dial 911 song


  1. JSD says

    We have an old rotary phone in our garage. (Yes it works – even with touch tone service.) If you have the opportunity, teach your kids how to work one. Ya never know when one like that will be the only phone available. My kids first tried to dial it by putting their fingers in the holes. They now know how to work one.

    • says

      That’s funny, I guess it’s not as simple as we think. If you weren’t brought up with rotary phones, you may not know how it works.


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