Acquainting children with school bus safety and protocol can ease first day jitters.

Acquainting children with school bus safety and protocol can ease first day jitters.

SIGN ME UP: Teach kindergartners basics of bus safety

There are several things you can do to help your child stay safe on the bus

A kindergartener’s first day of school is a day to cherish. There are so many firsts to experience, from wearing a backpack for the first time to making new friends to riding on a school bus. All of these firsts can be exciting and overwhelming at the same time.

For many youngsters, school marks the first time they are away from their parents for an extended period of time. As a result, safety concerns ­— especially concerning transportation to and from school — is foremost on the minds of many parents. School bus safety is something that should be presented to children in terms they can understand.

Riding on a school bus is often a fun experience for kids, but the prospect of leaving Mom or Dad behind at the curb can spark mixed feelings. It is best to prepare students for the school bus a few weeks prior to the first day of school to gauge their reactions and plan accordingly.

Many school districts and transportation companies host annual events that help introduce kindergarteners-to-be to the school bus.

If the school district where you are living does not host a special orientation day for children entering kindergarten, see if you can arrange to have a bus tour by contacting a bus company in the area.

Although safety tips may be covered at orientation, it is a good idea to reinforce lessons at home in preparation for the first day of school. Here are some important topics to go over.

• Walk to the bus using a sidewalk if there is one. If no sidewalk is present, walk on the opposite side of the street facing oncoming traffic.

• Wait for the bus at the designated stop. Don’t wander away.

• Do not go into the street while waiting for the bus to arrive.

• Do not roughhouse or run around with friends while waiting for the bus to arrive.

• Wait for the bus a safe distance away from the street until the bus stops and opens the door.

• Walk one-by-one onto the bus. Do not push or crowd the doorway.

• Once on the bus, quickly find a seat and sit down.

• If there is a seatbelt, fasten it. (Children should be familiar with how to latch a seatbelt.)

• Do not put your head, arms or anything else out of the bus window.

• Keep the bus aisle clear of backpacks or other items.

• Keep voices down so not to distract the driver.

• Listen to the driver.

• Do not throw things on the bus.

• Unbuckle your seatbelt only when the bus has stopped at the school (or your stop at home) and the door is open.

• Exit the bus slowly and do not push.

• If you must cross the street when exiting the bus, do so in front of the bus so the driver can see you.

Parents can go over these rules again and again. On the first day of school, some parents prefer to let their children ride the bus to school and then the parents meet the children at the school to watch the boys and girls exit. This also reassures the children that they are safe riding the bus.

The first day of school may be full of new things, but children can acquaint themselves with school bus safety and grow accustomed to riding one each day.

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