Safety

* Make your home as burglarproof as possible.

* Remove fire hazards and install smoke detectors.

* Introduce your child to a neighbor who can be called if difficulties arise.

* Post and familiarize children with emergency telephone numbers.

* Teach them to identify an emergency. Stress that safety comes first and that you will not be angry even if the emergency was caused by their mistake.

* Teach emergency procedures, such as to leave the house immediately if the smoke detectors go off. Show children the main water valve and how to turn it off. Tell them not to enter the house if the door is ajar or if things don't look right.

* Inform the teacher that your child will be alone. Teachers can reinforce safety information, keep an eye on the child, and provide information about after-school activities.

* Teach children not to display house keys or let a stranger at the door or on the phone know they are alone.

Security

* Call home daily. Either assign a specific time, or perhaps have a second line or "Call Waiting" installed to prevent anxiety over busy signals. "Call Waiting" service costs under $4 a month, plus an installation fee that ranges from free to $14, depending on the area.

* Remember that on a dark, dreary day, an extra call can help.

* Encourage your child to discuss feelings about being alone.

* Acknowledge responsible behavior.

* Return home at a regular time if possible, but if you're going to be late, call and explain.

* Consider a pet for companionship and security.

Free Time

* Discuss and help plan after-school routines.

* Provide at-home projects and materials for them.

* Arrange some after-school activities, such as clubs, Scouts, sports, volunteer work, or a day each week when the child goes to the library. If you need help with transportation, make arrangements: Trade weekend driving, sitting, or help pay for the gas.

* Plan times when your child can visit friends.