The not-so-magic school bus

Walking to school has its advantages – some of which are unexpected, Kita Szpak writes


Many of us have memories of taking the bus to school (depending on where you lived and what was available in your area). In my case, I never took the bus. Always living close by, my brothers and I made our way on foot from Grade One through high school in the various cities we lived.

Walking to school does have its advantages. The exercise factor is obvious.  Getting fresh air and moving physically is a big plus for your kids and indirectly for the teachers, too, but there are other nuggets to consider as well. Finding out what’s going on with friends is a big one, especially if busy schedules or different teachers prevent your child from getting the scoop post-school day.

For some kids, working out a school or home problem sometimes happens on the way to school where sharing information or solitary thinking can be the catalyst to a solution that couldn’t be found the night before.  

Walking your child to school is a wonderful way of connecting – perhaps finally talking about how they feel about “the move,” “the new brother,” their “birthday party,” or any topic that has a chance to emerge because you are one-on-one. The latter, as you know, happens rarely given the hectic schedules families have. Saying “goodbye” and wishing your kids a happy day at school can be the most rewarding and heartwarming routine you can establish as a parent.

My sons walked to school as well – ended up walking that is.  This occurred due to an incident involving my oldest son when he was in primary school. Upon his disembarking the bus on the return home when it was still early in the new school year, I could tell he was anxious and agitated. Unexpectedly, he confessed to me that he found the bus ride too noisy. It really bothered him.  I asked him if he wanted to take the bus any longer and he flatly said, “no.” From that day forward, I walked with him and his two younger brothers to and from school. I was a stay-at-home mom and could opt for this option, which may be more challenging for those of you who are working.

In subsequent years, my oldest became the “big brother” and accompanied his younger brothers on the neighbourhood paths to class. 

Though every circumstance is different and requires a tailored response, it’s important to discover how your child experiences the bus – the ride to and from school. Are there friends on the bus? Does she feel safe? Is there enough time for breakfast before running to the corner? Is it too noisy?  You’ll never know unless you ask or can be on hand when your daughter gets off the bus. Her ride may even determine how well she does in school once she gets there.