If your tween is going to middle school for the first time, you probably attended orientation
, purchased all of your school supplies, and talked about all the changes that come with middle school. But you might not have had a conversation about the school bus.
If your child will ride the bus to middle school, there's a lot he needs to understand. Be sure you and your tween discuss some of the challenges that might pop up on the school bus over the next school year. By doing so you'll prepare your child so that he'll know how to react if something happens.
Be at the Bus Stop On Time: Before the school year begins the school district should have a bus schedule available that will tell you when the bus will pick your student up in the morning and drop him back off in the afternoon. The bus schedule might be printed in the local paper or it might be available online. The bus schedule is only an approximation of when the bus will arrive so it's a good idea for your student to arrive at the bus stop a few minutes earlier than expected, in case the bus arrives early. Expect pick-up and drop-off times to fluctuate over the first few weeks until the bus driver has the route down.
You Might Have Assigned Seats: Some bus drivers will assign seats to the students in order to crack down on potential problems with students. Others will assign seats for the first few weeks of school, in order to get to know the students, and then let them sit where they want. Don't be surprised if your child has to sit in a particular seat. If seats aren't assigned, the older children typically sit in the back of the bus, while the younger ones sit up front.
You Might be Filmed: Some school districts place cameras on board buses in order to crack down on fights, bullying, drug use and other problems. Let your child know if there is a camera on his bus and explain why it's there -- to capture bad behavior and to help keep the students safe.
Adhere to Safety Rules: Make sure your child knows and understand the school bus safety rules and follows them. He shouldn't put his arms or head out the window, stand-up while the bus is moving, throw trash or any items out the window or horse-around while getting on and off the bus. The school bus rules will probably be posted on the bus or in the student manual.
Watch Out for Bullies: Bullies are everywhere these days, and that includes the school bus. If your child is lucky enough to escape the class bully at school, it's possible he may run into him on the bus. Prepare your child by discussing bullying behavior, and by helping your child troubleshoot potential problems beforehand. Help him by giving him stock responses he can use if a bully makes fun of him, shoves him or harasses him on the bus. Also, if your child encounters bullying behavior on the bus and can't solve the problem alone, you'll need to make contact with the school in order to put an end to it. Talk with the bus driver or contact the school transportation point person.
Stick with Your Friends: A middle school student can use bus time as down time on the way to and from school. Encourage your child to stick with his friends on the bus, and to avoid joining in bad behavior they might witness on the ride. Some students can avoid trouble by just pulling out a book and reading until they reach their designated stop. If the bus driver allows children to bring headphones or tablets on the bus, consider giving him an MP3 player or a tablet so that he can turn to that to avoid other distractions.