Since we spend so much time focusing on what goes on at school- we often forget to consider that for some tweens it is the bus ride to and from school that represents the hardest part of the day. If your tween is just starting Middle School, then it is possible that not only is he going to a bigger school but he may be riding the bus for the first time.
Riding the bus may have pros and cons. On the positive side- riding the bus gives your tweens the opportunity to get ‘their head in the game’ before they get to school. If your tween is not a morning person then all of the action on the bus is sure to wake her up. In addition, the bus is an opportunity for kids to hone their social skills and catch up on the daily buzz. Unfortunately, some tweens see the bus ride as an opportunity to complete homework assignments. This is not something we recommend. The bus ride, however, can provide a chance for your kids to talk to their peers about a particularly hard and/or confusing homework assignment.
The bus ride to school can also be the common bully’s favorite headquarters. Trapped in a contained environment with little adult supervision (barring the bus driver who is hopefully focused on the road) the bus ride to and from school can provide a bully with optimal conditions under which to tease and terrorize fellow students.
Talking with your middle schoolers about the pros and cons of their bus ride can provide them with welcome relief. It is especially helpful to talk about this before the first day of school. If your tween is particularly sensitive or anxious to changes or new situations then a brief ‘prep’ talk could really help ease some potential stress.
Here are a few suggestions regarding your ‘prep’ talk:
1.) Review bus pick-up time and location even if you plan to walk or drive your child to the bus stop on the first day. The more information you provide them, the more in control and empowered they will feel.
2.) Go over the names of other kids with whom your child will be riding the bus. Knowing that there will be some familiar faces can help ease anxiety.
3.) Talk about the bus environment. This is one instance in which discussing your own experience may be helpful. Sometimes it is the noise level that throws first time bus riders off. If your tween is particularly sensitive or anxious, the intensity of the noise level and apparent chaos can make them feel vulnerable.
4.) Discuss a plan in case your tween experiences or is witness to bus ride bullying or teasing. This provides your child with a clear picture of what she can do in such a situation. This also sends your tween the message that you not only want to hear about these types of situations but that you will support him and help him find effective solutions to such circumstances.
Now that you have discussed the bus ride, about that locker….