For many littles, a ride on the school bus offers that first taste of independence
Naturally, this big step could create a bit of anxiety for both parents and kids. In order to limit that, Nick McRae, general manager of Roxborough Bus Lines Ltd., says preparation is key.
“Have a talk with them. Remind your kids about the rules of the bus,” he explains. “No jumping, no yelling, no screaming, no spitting, no slapping – all those things that most parents would not allow the kids to do in their own personal e the most independent act of a child’s life, up to that point – their first official foray away from Mom and Dad.
vehicles, well, they’re not allowed to do it on the school bus.”
On top of the basic rules for kids to follow when they are on the bus, McRae says there are a few things parents need to know as well.
“The parents need as much preparation as the kids do in some cases. For starters, it’s important to be at the stop a minimum of five minutes before your designated time and, when you get there, make sure your stuff is in your book bag. A lot of times, we see kids arriving at the stop with homework in one hand and a toy in the other,” he explains.
“Kids should also wear a book bag that fits accordingly. We see so many kids where the bag is almost a counter-balance – it weighs more than them. So the poor kids are trying to walk up the stairs of the bus but the bag is so heavy that it’s pulling them backwards.”
McRae says a lot of parents of first-time bus riders may not realize that someone has to be waiting for junior kindergarten students when they are dropped off at their stop after school – in other words, your child can’t walk home from the stop by him or herself.
“You’d be surprised at how many parents we have to call in the first month to ask that there be someone there at the stop for four- and five-year-olds because the law states that we have to make sure all JK students are met by parents,” he says, adding, “a lot of parents are in the house waiting, rather than at the stop.”
Many parents are also guilty of pulling a classic “first day of JK” move – following the school bus from the stop to school in your own vehicle, a move McRae strongly discourages.
“At the end of some of these routes, we’ve got 65 to 70 kids on the bus, so just imagine you had a trail of 70 cars following the bus to school,” he says. “Let the bus do its thing. The kids are in good hands. If there’s an issue, we will be in touch with parents.”
In the final weeks of summer, many schools host First-Time Rider programs for kids who will be taking the bus to school. Check your local school or school board’s website for more info.