Taking the school bus can be a scary responsibility for kids and very overwhelming for parents. But it doesn’t have to be. Talking to your kids about the bus being prepared and organized can make the bus system a good experience for kids. But how do you do that exactly? Here are school bus safety tips for kids, great tips to talk about and be prepared for.
School Bus Rules for Parents to Be Aware of:
There can sometimes be confusion about the bus procedure and where the responsibility lies. Here are some general rules that most school districts and bus companies follow that are good for parents to be aware of.
-It’s the responsibility of the parents to understand the safety procedures and talk about them with their child.
-Parents are responsible for their children until they board the bus and again immediately as they step off the bus.
-Their child using the bus is a privilege, and any disrespect, damage, or behavior issues can result in your child’s withdrawal from using the bus service.
-Your child must be at the bus stop prior to the arrival of the bus. The bus will not wait for students.
-It is the benefit of the parents to maintain a good, respectful relationship with the bus driver.
There are very few incidents of school bus accidents. However, it is important to know that most incidents that do occur happen when children are getting on and off the bus. So kids and their parents should be very vigilant and careful during these times.
Organization tips for parents:
Understanding the logistics of using the bus is the responsibility of parents. They need to be aware of the bus numbers, the bus location, the route, etc. You can discuss this with your school principal and get all the information you need. Always be aware of the bus schedule; rushing will only increase the risk of an accident.
-Make sure your child is aware of their bus number or name.
-Pack carefully for your child; giving them too many bags or accessories can increase the risk of an incident when they’re getting on or off the bus.
-Label your child’s things! This way, if they leave something on the bus (which happens often!), the driver can very easily make sure it gets back to the right child. Here are the best labeling options!
School Bus Safety Tips to Talk About with Your Child:
Here is a list of the general safety tips your child needs to know about when waiting for the bus, getting on/off the bus, and riding the bus. It’s important to talk to them about bus safety. the school principal should also cover the school bus safety tips with the kids, but it’s always good to ensure they hear it multiple times and understand the importance of it.
-Always be aware that if you can’t see the driver, the driver can’t see you.
-Always leave a few meters (or 6 BIG steps) between yourself and the bus; even if you drop something near or under the bus, always ask the driver before approaching.
-Never run to the bus
-Always wait away from the edge of the road (the 6 BIG steps)
-Wait for the bus to be stopped completely before approaching
-Always remain seated, facing forward
-No hands or arms outside the windows
Behavior on the School Bus:
This is another topic to discuss with your kids. With very little supervision, a relaxed atmosphere can sometimes lead to misbehavior and negative social interactions between kids. It’s important that parents talk to their kids about how to conduct themselves on the bus, the importance of not distracting the driver, and creating a safe and positive ride for everyone.
-Practice dealing with various negative interactions, give them some tools to cope with these possible interactions,
-Role play: how to ask to sit in a seat if everywhere is full, things such as “Can you please make some space for me?” and teach them to move alone if they hear “no”. Teach them not to take it personally, to just move along to another friend. Tell them that perhaps that student is having a hard time or may be experiencing some anxiety, too.
-Encourage your child to keep negative interactions as brief as possible, just move along, then discuss the concerns with parents or teachers later.
-Be prepared that your child may hear language that isn’t suitable for their age group. Make sure to discuss what’s appropriate to say, and what’s not.
School Bus Anxiety for Kids:
There is no doubt that a large number of kids will feel anxious about riding the bus. From the logistics to the new social interactions, it’s very understandably an anxious situation. In fact, many adults would probably also experience some anxiety if they had to do the same thing!
Always validate your child’s feeling of anxiety, and let them know that the fear they have is normal and that other kids are probably feeling the same way.
Give your child some tools that may help calm them down. Perhaps that’s their favorite fidget toy to use on the bus. Or some simple deep breathing exercises.
Ask the school if your child knows any other kids on the bus, perhaps another child in their class or a friend. Then buddy up! The busy system will ease anxiety knowing that they don’t have to do it alone, and they’ll have a friend to sit with on the ride.
What to do if your child is experiencing bullying or threats on the bus:
It can happen, but for the most part, kids are good and well-behaved on the bus. It can be very frightening when it does happen though, and it’s important to listen to your child, and take their concerns seriously.
-Make sure to speak with the teacher, principal, driver, and bus company and ensure that the appropriate actions are taken to ensure the safety of your child.
-Make sure your child sits next to the driver or gets another form of transportation until the issue has been resolved.
-Ask for help from a responsible older child on the bus who can act as a buddy.
It may seem daunting for kids and parents at the beginning of the year, but after some time, it will become a regular part of the routine. Sending all kids and parents happy and safe bus journeys!
For more back-to-school information, check out the Mabelhood Back to School Hub!