There’s a lot that goes into getting children ready for school. With all the fuss over what happens inside the classroom, from school supplies, lunches, staying up-to-date with teachers and curricula, safety concerns about the trip to school are often forgotten. But it only takes a few minutes to turn your mind to school bus safety. Doing so benefits all the kids in your neighborhood, including your own.
Stay in the Know
First things first: Draw upon your community of parents to get to know which kids are riding the bus with your child. Partner with those parents to regularly monitor stops and routes. Say hello to the bus driver, and get to know the staff member in charge of transportation.
Waiting for the Bus
Kids will be kids, but roughhousing near busy traffic can be dangerous. Emphasize that good behavior is essential, regardless of whether or not you’re waiting at the stop with your child. Give children a specific instruction they can follow when they see the bus coming, such as to take three giant steps back from the curb and to not run toward it.
Getting On the Bus
A courteous lineup prevents kids from shoving or pushing. It also reduces the risk that a child may fall, either on the ground or while mounting the steps. Tell your child to stay in line and wait until the bus comes to a full stop before approaching it. Children should get on the bus one at a time and hold on to the handrail. If the bus is equipped for children using assistive devices, such as wheelchairs, it’s important to emphasize that these kids get on the bus first while everyone else waits patiently.
Riding the Bus
Your children know to respect you and their teachers; remind them that they need to show the same respect to the bus driver. Children should keep their voices down during the ride so they don’t cause a distraction. When the driver gives instructions, tell your child to listen attentively. Just like in a car, kids should wear seat belts if the bus has them and stay in their seats. It may be tempting to wave outside the windows, but kids should always keep their hands and arms inside.
Getting Off the Bus
You won’t be with your child as they get off the bus at the end of day and may or may not be there to meet them. Tell your child to stay seated until the bus stops and to hold onto the handrails as they get off. Remind them to look left, right and left again before they cross the street to be aware of traffic.
Sometimes, it’s unavoidable that a child has to cross in front of the bus, but they should know to do this safely. A good rule of thumb is to walk five giant steps, or about 10 feet, ahead of the bus, make eye contact with the driver, wait for the driver to signal that it’s okay to cross, and then do so. A child should never walk behind a bus; if this is the necessary route, he should wait until the bus has left and the street is clear.
Driving Near a School Bus
Parents also have to follow rules when driving in a school zone or near a school bus. They are required to slow down in school zones and keep an eye out for little ones getting out of class. Drivers must stop behind a bus with yellow or red flashing lights, as it means the bus is about to let kids off.
Learning to ride the bus is a rite of passage for many kids, but it’s crucial to do it safely. Teaching kids common sense and lessons in caution will last them a lifetime and help turn them into respectful, courteous adults.