How to Prepare Your Child to Ride the Bus
Updated: Apr 1, 2021
Riding the bus to school is exciting for some children, but scary for many. After all, most of the time, kids are being transported by their parents. They know what to expect and how a car ride usually goes. A bus is bigger with children your child does not know, and they don't know what to expect. When you have a child with a developmental disability, riding the bus can be downright overwhelming for them.
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TIPS TO PREPARE YOUR CHILD TO RIDE THE BUS
Acquaint Your Child With What to Expect
Many children, including those with developmental disabilities, simply are anxious about riding the bus because they don't know what to expect, especially if they've been riding in cars their entire lives. One great way to acquaint your child with a developmental disability with riding a bus is to actually ride one. Most medium-sized cities have a public bus system, as well as every large city. Arrange to take a bus ride with your child so they can experience the bigger space and some of the bus-riding protocol. While different from a school bus that is simply full of children, riding a bus will help give your child a great sense of what a bus is like. If this is not possible, you can verbally walk your child through the steps of riding a bus, explaining how to board a bus and get off, where to sit, the stops a bus makes, and other details.
Alleviate Their Fears
Many children are super scared of riding the bus. After all, it is big and scary in the eyes of a young child. You can help ensure your developmentally disabled child is set up for success when riding a bus by talking about any fears they may have so you can then allay them. For example, if your child is scared of the size of the bus, the noises it makes, or how many strangers are on the bus, you will be able to address these by talking about how a bus is just like a car but bigger, how the noises aren't that bad, and how with so many new faces, your child could make friends. By putting their fears in a new light with a new perspective, and by seeing the positive side of things, you can help your child immensely.
Establish a Routine
Developmentally disabled children usually thrive on routine. It makes at least one part of their day easy when they could face many other daily challenges. Thus, once school starts, if riding the bus is routine like waking up in the morning and getting ready, it will become an accepted part of their day. Hopefully, they will have the same bus driver every day and usually the same children ride the bus. This also helps to make the bus seem like a normal, everyday activity.
Teach Proper Bus Riding Etiquette
Many children with developmental disabilities struggle with social situations, social norms, and acceptable public behavior. Thus, they have to be taught all of these things, sometimes repeatedly. When riding a bus, some children may think it's okay to scream loudly, to walk around, or to be mean or intrusive to other children. Here is where feedback from the bus driver can be super helpful. They can report to you any misdeeds, and then you can work to fix them with your child.