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Ages & Stages

School Bus Basics

Is bus transportation available for your child? Many parents have particular concerns about bus rides on the first day of school, and also when older youngsters riding the bus start to cause trouble. Also, what happens if a child misses the afternoon bus or is detained after school? On your child's first day of elementary school, you might be tempted to drive her to school, particularly if she seems apprehensive about the bus ride or about starting school in general. However, except under unusual circum­stances strongly encourage your child to ride the bus that first day.

Your youngster should be there if seats on the bus are assigned, and the driver needs to get used to the stop where your child will be picked up. You can take your child to the bus stop and meet her there when she returns. If your work schedule doesn't allow you to be there, arrange for another adult or an older sibling to take on this responsibility.

Review the basic bus safety rules with your youngster: Wait for the bus to stop before approaching it from the curb. Do not move around on the bus; this will help avoid injuries if the driver needs to stop quickly. When disembarking, cross at least ten feet in front of the bus and only when it is fully stopped, the red lights are flashing, and the driver has signaled that it is safe. Of course, the child should also check to make sure that no other traffic is coming.

In most cases, you won't be allowed to ride on the bus with your child, even on the first day of school. Although some parents feel better following the bus to school in their car and making sure their child finds her classroom, the school staff is usually prepared to help youngsters navigate through the school grounds on opening day.

If your child complains about trouble occurring on the bus, caused by older and/or rowdy youngsters, find out what the particular problem is and take ap­propriate action. If your child is being teased or harassed, encourage her to suggest some potential solutions in hopes that she can resolve the difficulty herself. If she is being hurt or is afraid for her safety, call the principal for some assistance. To minimize problems, discourage your child from bringing ex­pensive or popular toys to play with on the bus, since they can easily become damaged when other children want to try them. Bear in mind that drivers need to concentrate on driving the bus; they have neither the time nor the training to serve as disciplinarians.

Last Updated
Caring for Your School-Age Child: Ages 5 to 12 (Copyright © 2004 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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