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Supporting Your Child on Their First Bus Ride to School

Your children are out of school enjoying the summer and before you know it, they will be boarding the school bus once again, or for many children, for the very first time as they enter Kindergarten. For young elementary students who have never been on a school bus, waiting for the bus on their first day of school can be an overwhelming experience. You’ve heard the term ‘It takes a village,’ and it truly takes a complex team to ensure the safe transportation of students to and from school. This team includes representatives from the schools, the school boards, the bus companies and, of course, the responsible parents or the caregivers and the students themselves.

In advance of the new school year, the first step to take is to register your child for the school bus, which can easily be done on your school board’s website. There are many other considerations to be taken in preparation of your child’s first bus ride.

Review the following suggestions to help ease the process:

Guide your child along the route to the stop so they feel safe (have them practice walking the route, whether they are walking on their own or with other children to/from the stop).

Utilize the consistency of the stop location to create familiarity (if you drive or walk past the bus stop, point it out and make sure you know the neighborhood well).

If your child requires a bus pass/identification to board the bus, store this in an easily accessible place your child will remember.

Explain to your child that they will need to respect the bus driver and the bus rules, similar to how they are expected to respect the school staff and their teacher.

Inform them that as the parent, you are not allowed to board the bus, but reassure them that they will have someone to sit with (a buddy) or within close proximity at all times.

Explain that any issues or concerns your child may have need to be directed to yourself or the school, not the bus driver (so that you may contact the bus company or school board staff, if necessary).

Have an emergency backup plan (teach your child what to do in the event you are not at the stop if you usually meet them and are not there).

Remember, the bus driver’s primary concern is to transport all children to school safely first, and second, on time. This sometimes means the driver will require your help with any student management issues. If the bus is late, students should not be left at the stop alone. It is the school’s responsibility to provide supervision for school bus loading and unloading (on the correct buses). They also identify Kindergarten students to the driver, and usually have them sit in the first few rows, which further helps ease nerves.

The school board is responsible for creating the routes, changing them and selecting safe stop locations for your children. They also ensure there is proper communication between the bus company, the schools and yourself. The bus company is responsible for supporting the schools’ student safety programs, maintaining late service information (available on district websites) and providing well-trained staff. All of these parties work together to ensure your child arrives at school safely every day of the school year, and are all there to help them with all of the ‘firsts’ they will embark on as elementary students.

To learn more about the Calgary Catholic School District, visit cssd.ab.ca.

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