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Preparing Students for Their First School Bus Ride

Jun 23, 2018 by

For many kids, one of the most exciting things about going to public school is riding the school bus. The large tires, loud engine, flashing lights, and unmistakable yellow paint is larger than life. It’s the vehicle from their favorite storybooks and songs. But some children are overwhelmed by the sight and sound of a real life school bus. Here are a few ways to get students excited about riding on the bus and helpful tips for keeping them safe.

Ask About Bus Orientation

Many elementary schools offer an orientation for new students. This is the perfect way to introduce kids to the school, teachers, other students, and the school bus. Most schools offer a bus orientation as well. Students have the opportunity to see the bus, meet a bus driver, and even take a ride. This helps familiarize them with how the bus looks, sounds, and feels. They can practice walking up the tall steps, holding the handrail, and navigating the narrow aisle. Most buses take a small loop around town before dropping the children off back at school. For many children, this is their first experience riding in such a large vehicle, without a carseat, and without their mom or dad. During a bus orientation, the students can even ask the bus driver questions. For many kids, this orientation helps them shake those bus jitters. And for those kids who were already excited about riding the bus, now they’re more prepared than ever!

Talk About What Will Happen

If a child has never rode a school bus before, they might not understand how the whole process works. Talking about it is the best way to address any uncertainties, concerns, or worries. Getting parents involved is a great way to help prepare students. Have the student’s parent show the child where the bus stop is. Tell them that they’ll arrive there and wait a few minutes before the bus arrives. Explain that once the bus pulls up, the lights will flash, letting vehicles know that the bus is stopping. When it comes to a stop, the bus will put up a stop sign and safety bar that keeps students from walking too close to the front of the bus. The bus driver will open the doors and your child will board. They will find a seat and then the bus will close its doors. Parents can wave to their child from the window, which will likely help with send-off. Also remind students that other children need to be picked up also. This means that the school bus might make several more stops before arriving at the school. Telling students this will keep them from getting nervous when the bus stops and they don’t see the school. Parents can even drive the route that the bus will take to school. The more familiar children are with the entire process, the better.

Discuss Bus Safety

Bus safety is extremely important because once students boards the bus, their safety is somewhat out of your hands. You want to make sure that students understand the importance of bus safety. Make sure that they know how to properly buckle their seatbelt. They can practice this at home with a regular lap belt. Discuss the important of staying seated during the entire bus ride. When students stand up, they’re at risk of falling over, especially if the bus stops short. The school will perform its own bus evacuation drills. This will teach students how to properly use the exits at both the rear of the bus, the top, and windows. Children should be encouraged to keep the aisle of the bus clear of backpacks, their legs, and other items that might prevent students from properly evacuating in case of an emergency. Discussing all of these things before the first day is a great way to prepare kids.

Discuss Proper Behavior

Explain to students that the school bus is like an extension of the school. This means that many of the same rules apply. Bullying is not tolerated. Neither is yelling, throwing things, being disruptive or using foul language. Students are not permitted to eat or drink on the bus. This leads to spills, garbage, and dirty seats and floors. If the bus provides assigned seating, students must sit in their own designated spot. Remind students that the bus driver needs to concentrate and when they’re misbehaving or being loud, it impacts the safety of everyone on the bus.

Talk Positively About Riding the School Bus

The best way to get students excited about riding the bus is to talk about all the fun things they will experience. Things like talking with their friends and seeing sights all around their town. Before long, riding the school bus will just become another part of a student’s day and they won’t give it another thought!

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