Read This to Make Your Kid's First School Bus Ride Less Scary

Tips to make your kid's first school bus ride go smoothly

It's your first time at the school bus stop. A big, strange vehicle approaches, and you are asked to get on and sit down. You're instructed to be quiet and to keep your belongings to yourself. You have some idea of where you're going, but don't know many people along for the ride.

You begin to freak out a little.

That's what the first ride on Big Yellow could potentially feel like for your little one.

Firsts are always scary, but that inaugural school bus ride—the first time a child is travelling independent of a parent or guardian—may be a more stressful experience than most.

Fortunately, like most things, preparation is key. Here are some tips to avoid a first-day-of-school freak out by your future honor roll student:

  • Take your child to the bus stop they will use this school year prior to the first day. Remind them—put it on repeat if you need to—that you or a loved one will be there waiting for them when they get off the bus at the end of the day.
  • If your school district hosts a meet-the-bus-driver event, be sure to attend. You might even be able to take a tour of the bus before their maiden voyage. If not, make it a point to introduce yourself to the bus driver—and introduce your little one, too.
  • Let the bus driver know if there will be someone else picking your child from the bus. That way, the driver can reassure your child when it's time to get off the bus after school.
  • Instruct your child to stand away from the roadway while waiting for the bus—tell them not to wander onto private property.
  • When the school bus approaches, tell them to take 10 big steps back to ensure they give the driver plenty of room to pull over to pick them up.
  • Let them know the rules: that standing on the bus isn’t allowed (it's against the law in Pennsylvania).
  • Tell them the bus' red flashing lights and extended arm bar mean other vehicles need to stop, but remind them that just because they are required to stop, doesn't mean they will. Stress that it's still important for them to look both ways. Understand that school-aged kids are more likely to be injured or killed in a pedestrian accident during the hour before and the hour after school.
  • Tell them to always cross in front of the bus, not behind it. Let them know that if they can't see the bus driver, there's a good chance that the bus driver can't see them, either.

We hope you and your new student have a great, tear-free first day (well, we hope your kids don't cry. We’re pretty sure you will—don't we all?).

Source: PennDOT, NHTSA