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Ask the Expert: How to Ride the School Bus

Ask the Expert: How to Ride the School Bus

  • Riding the bus for the first time can be scary for kids.
  • These parents tips from a pro can ease your mind so you can focus on your child.

From time to time we like to invite local experts from the community to answer questions about parenting and raising kids in Huntsville and North Alabama. Today we asked Tom Brandon, Madison County Commissioner, and former educator and school bus driver to address the BEST way to ride a school bus.

5 Tips for Parents To Make Your School Bus Experience Smoother

It doesn’t matter if you’re a first-time rider or a 5th grade veteran – these tips from an actual bus driver are great for parents and kids!

1. Inform

Your bus driver is a professional that has spent many hours training to obtain their bus driving license and will continue to undergo training each year to maintain that accreditation. Introduce yourself, and keep your driver informed about the needs of your child such as allergies or other medical conditions. Keep them informed of any changes that may take place in the pick-up or drop-off routine.

2. Identify

Especially for those little ones or first time riders have their name and address placed on them in a couple of places such as their shirt, jacket, or back pack. Do this for at least one week after your child starts riding the bus. There may be up to sixty plus other students on the bus do not expect the bus driver to remember every face and every address the first few days of school.

3. Safety

Talk to your children about school bus safety and the importance of staying seated. For little ones, this is the first vehicle that they have ridden in that they are not buckled up. There is new-found freedom and the bus is a new experience waiting to be explored. Talk to them about how important it is that they stay seated and turned around for their safety and the safety of the other students on the bus.

4. Time

Your bus driver will do their very best to arrive at your stop at the same time each day. Plan to be at your stop a few minutes before you expect the bus to arrive. It may not seem like much when the bus driver must wait an extra thirty seconds but the driver may have forty or more stops to make and those seconds can add up to students arriving several minutes late to school.

Allow for a period of adjustment the first week of school. Bus riders are added and routes change frequently during that time. Don’t worry – the routine will settle in and it’s a good time to model patience and flexibility for your child.

5. Respect

The way that you interact with the driver of the bus will give your child an indication of how they should interact with the driver. Your biggest concern for your child is that they arrive safety at school. This is also the goal of the driver. When you have the safety of your child in mind the driver has the safety and care of sixty plus in mind each and every day.

This article was originally published in 2017 and has been updated.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tom Brandon has been an educator for many years at a small rural school in north Alabama. He has worked with kids as a teacher, coach, and bus driver and has served on a number of education advisory councils. His awards include Teacher of the Year at his local school, the Coca-Cola Always Teaching Award, and the Steve Harvey Neighborhood Award. His book, Mr. Brandon’s School Bus should be on every parent & teacher’s Must List. Oh yeah, and he is the District 1 Madison County Commissioner as of 2020.

Photo credit: Salt of the Earth Photography

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