Summer is winding down, and schools are preparing to welcome students for the new academic year. Understandably, the first day of school can cause jitters for the students and their parents.
While children may miss their neighborhood friends and start worrying about things they have never encountered before – such as schoolwork or meeting new classmates – don’t let the school bus become another source of their anxiety.
Preparing your kindergarten children to ride the school bus
Riding a school bus is a new and exciting experience for many children entering kindergarten. Others, though, feel anxious at the mere thought of seeing unfamiliar faces and riding to school without their parents or older siblings accompanying them. For students who have never taken a school bus, waiting for it on their first day of school can be a daunting experience.
The school bus is a child’s first interaction with school every day. So, as a parent or guardian, it’s important to make your children feel at ease in their first school bus ride and get them off to a happy start.
The following tips can help your child to adapt to the school bus environment comfortably:
1) Let your children know that a school bus is a great place to meet people and make new friends. There are many excellent children’s books about school buses, so read them with your child to help them feel comfortable riding a school bus.
2) There are school orientation events that allow first-time students, particularly kindergartners, to experience riding a bus for the first time. Such events allow the kids to explore the bus and go for a short ride around the neighborhood.
3) Before school starts, help your child familiarize themselves with the bus route by guiding them to the stop. Visit the bus stop and explain to your child how pick-up and drop-off works. To help your child feel safer and more independent, you can have them practice walking the route independently or with other children to and from the bus stop.
4) Many children fear that they will never be able to find their bus without their parents or guardians accompanying them, and it’s understandable. Help your child remember their bus number and write it down in case they forget.
5) As a would-be first-time passenger, your child may feel anxious about riding a school bus simply because they don’t know anyone going on it. Having a so-called “bus buddy” can help quell your child’s anxiety, so encourage them to make friends with their peers who ride the same bus. It is also a good idea to have more than just one bus buddy in case one friend is absent from school one day. Having someone they enjoy sitting beside or near will make your child feel more comfortable riding the school bus, thus making the overall experience less overwhelming.
6) Whether the school holds a formal meeting for new students riding the bus or not, it’s a good idea to introduce your child to their bus driver. This will help your child and their bus driver get to know each other better even before school starts. It will also help the bus driver learn your child’s name and help your child remember and recognize the driver on the bus line.
7) Every child contributes to a safe school bus environment. So, before sending your child off on the school bus for the first time, reviewing the bus safety procedures is important. It helps to have all school bus safety information available to you before the first day of school.
Teach your child basic safety rules when riding a school bus, such as using the handrail when getting on and off the bus, remaining in their assigned seats, and speaking in a low voice while riding the bus. Remind your child to stay at a safe distance away from the street while waiting for the bus and always follow the driver’s instructions.
8) If your child requires a pass or identification to board the bus, store it in an accessible place so that your child can easily remember.
9) Children usually take cues from their parents. As a parent of a kindergartner, it’s important to make your child feel excited about riding the school bus for the first time. The excitement will surely rub off on your child and encourage them to view a school bus in a different light – that is, as a great place to meet people and make new friends.
Since this will be your child’s first school bus ride, treat this as his or her milestone. Celebrate it with big hugs, a treat, and lots of pictures.
Familiarizing your child with the school bus ensures that he or she feels safe and comfortable on the school bus for the rest of the year. Sharing in your little kindergartner’s excitement will only make the overall experience even more enjoyable.
Read our article “What to Expect as a Bus Driver for the New School Year” to learn more. And if you would like to become a school bus driver, check out the Jobs Near You.