If your tween rides the bus to school, then her academic day begins long before the first bell. The contained environment of the bus can take on a life of its own. Most kids, for example, know that the best place to catch up on the daily school buzz is on the bus. The bus provides an interactive environment in which kids can observe and learn from peers of all ages.
The daily bus ride can also pose challenges. If your child is not a morning person, the volume of the bus ride banter can be a jarring wake-up call. And the bus ride may be, unfortunately, the playground for bullies whose victims have little chance to escape. For these children the bus ride can feel like a house of horrors.
Here’s how to help ensure that your tween’s transport is safe and secure:
What You Can Do
- Encourage conversation about the bus ride to school. When most parents ask their kids how school is going they focus solely on in school events. If you want to know what’s happening on the bus you have to ask directly.
- Voice concerns concretely. If your tween is particularly shy and or vulnerable, ask her who she sits with and how the ride is going. Ask her if there are kids on the bus about whom she is concerned. If you are worried about bus ride bullying, you may want to ask by using an example. You could say something like: “I remember when I rode the bus to school. There was this once kid who bullied everyone. I was really scared of him. Is there anyone like that on your bus?”
- Befriend the bus driver. Your tween is at an age where he worries a lot about being publicly embarrassed. In order to get to know your tween’s driver, you are best served contacting her in the transportation office during her non-driving hours. Introduce yourself and clearly identify your child. Let the driver know how much you appreciate her efforts. Once you have made the connection, you have the best resource to tell you what is really happening on the bus. This is especially helpful if your tween offers little information.
- Talk to other parents. There is safety in numbers, especially when it comes to trying to get information from a tween. By connecting with other parents whose kids ride the same bus as your child, you create a network of communication and information. If you are concerned that something has happened to your tween on the bus, ask other parents to talk with their own child. While your tween maybe tight lipped about his own experiences, she may be more than willing to give you the scoop on the next-door neighbor.
What Your Tween Can Do
- Sit strategically. If your tween expresses concerns about the bus, suggest she sit upfront close to the bus driver. After, it is no secret that, in most cases, the noise and activity increase the further back you sit on the bus.
- Make a bus buddy. Encourage your tween to identify at least one other kid on the bus with whom she feels comfortable. Younger tweens may seek out an older neighbor. If your child is quiet and shy, she may be best served sitting with another tween who is also less talkative.
- Listen and learn. The bus can actually be a great place for tweens to collect important information. Because kids are thrown together on the bus based on geographic location, not age, bus riders can collect information about classes, teachers, and even school events by simply listening to bus ride banter.
- Use the time wisely. The bus ride provides a pre-school prep period. This can be particularly helpful if your tween requires some time to get his head in the game. The extra time can be helpful for a last minute glance at study material or for double-checking completed homework. For some tweens, the bus provides essential time to de-stress and relax in preparation for the busy school day ahead.
The bus ride to school can be an important interactive experience for your tween. Learning how to successfully negotiate the ride ensures that your tween starts the day feeling calm and confident. Now about that locker…..
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