School Bus Safety in Your Neighborhood

school-girl-busIt’s almost back-to-school time again, and a great time to review some simple school bus safety tips for using those big yellow buses! There are “Safety 6” suggestions for parents, and the “Great 8” rules for kids:

Safety 6 for parents:

  1. Rules, rules, rules: Go over your family bus rules for walking, waiting, and riding. The driver will go over the district code of bus conduct with kids, but every repetition helps make safety a habit. Not sure what rules to make? See the “Great 8” for kids below.
  2. Schedule it: Bus schedules with bus numbers are posted on your school district websites, and in the This Week Newspapers shortly before school starts. Print or clip a copy of your bus schedule with bus number and post it in your kitchen or on your front door. This allows everyone to know when to expect the bus, and which bus to catch!
  3. Co-op the stop: Cooperate with neighbors sharing your bus stop, and arrange to have at least one parent at the stop every day for both AM and PM. Whether it’s a formal schedule or one parent volunteering for full time duty with a back-up on sick days, kids are safer with an adult at the stop. (Exchange cell phone numbers to make it easy to call the on-duty parent in case of emergency)
  4. Introduce yourself: During the first week of school, introduce yourself and your child to the bus driver. Yes, it’s awkward, but it shows the driver that you’re an involved parent and that you respect the driver’s role in your child’s life. Start off on the right foot!
  5. Disaster plan: Make a plan for common disasters. Missed the bus? Suspended from riding? Too cold to wait outdoors? Have an alternate planned, such as a carpool or designated parent/friend who can drive if your child can’t ride. Make sure your child has a key or code to get into home to call you.
  6. Grab those digits: Find the phone number for the bus service or transportation department on your school district website and copy it into your phone and into your emergency numbers list at home. When a bus is late, early, or altogether missing in action, you’ll have the right number to call for information at your fingertips. If your child has a phone, make sure your numbers are in there, too.

Great 8 Bus Rules for Kids:

  1. Walk. If you run, you may trip, or forget to look both ways when crossing the street!
  2. Be on time. Arrive 5 minutes before the bus is due, and you’ll never have to run to catch it.
  3. Look. Look before crossing the street, and look to see that the driver is looking at YOU when crossing in front of the bus.
  4. Stay back. Stay at least 3 feet from the edge of the curb where the bus stops. In icy or rainy weather, buses can slip or slide up to or OVER the curb. Stay back and stay safe.
  5. Stay visible. The bus driver is way up high, and can’t see the area right next to the bus, even with mirrors. The Danger Zone is 10 feet next to the bus. If you can see the driver’s face, the driver can see YOU.
  6. Play it safe. Talk quietly or read, but don’t play games at the bus stop or on the bus. Kids who are playing are having fun, but they aren’t paying attention to safety or to the driver.
  7. Stranger Danger. Don’t approach a strange car or accept a ride from anyone without parent approval. Stick together with your bus stop buddies and just say no to strangers.
  8. Under 8 needs a guide. Children under 8 are not ready to walk or wait by themselves. Whether it’s a parent, sibling, or older neighbor kid, K-2 student should stick with an older buddy for safety.

Organize for Back to School

Can you organize your home for back to school success? Yes! With a little thought and planning, you can organize to prevent those messy spots that cause schedule and homework chaos.

Picture your family’s busiest times of day and where you spend that time. For many, those busy times are the morning rush to get out the door, and the evening dinner and homework hours. If those are your busy times and places too, then focus your powers of organization on the kitchen, entryway, and homework area. Now that you know where and when you want to make organizational changes, put together a list of your hot spots and what changes might prevent clutter and chaos.

School Supplies 3
Does your cluttered entryway make it hard to find shoes, backpacks, and school papers?

• Baskets, bins or shoe organizers can make it easy for even young children to put away shoes as they come in the door.
• A storage bench, lockers, or a row of hooks can hold umbrellas, coats, and backpacks.
• A shoe organizer on the door of the coat closet is a perfect place for gloves, hats, scarves, and other cold-weather items.
• Add a small table with a basket for important papers, homework, and bills. Toss a pen or two into the basket for fast signatures on those rushed mornings.
• Place a small waste basket nearby for junk mail and trash.

Does it take an hour to collect all the school supplies your kids need for homework each night? Whether your homework station is at your desk or the kitchen table, designate a drawer, basket, or shelf just for supplies. Stock it now with extras while school supplies are on sale:

• Basics like pens, pencils, paper, colored pencils, glue sticks, graph paper, crayons.
• Consider older kids too: Compass, protractor, calculator, white-out, sticky notes, highlighters.
• Stock all the things that can run out, get lost, or get left in the locker instead of coming home.
• Pencil sharpener (unless you use mechanical pencils).

Is it breakfast and lunchbox time that makes you crazy in the mornings? Consider blocking out a small area of counter space, kitchen cabinet, or drawers just for morning food prep. If the supplies are all together and the kids can serve themselves breakfast and just “go shopping” for their lunches in your cabinet, drawer, and fridge, mornings become a breeze!

• Store cereal, bowls, spoons, and napkins where kids can reach and serve themselves.
• Keep brown bags, ziplock bags, markers, plastic containers, and plastic wrap together in a drawer, or basket for an instant lunch-making station.
• Consider portioning out non-perishables on the weekend for easy grab-and-go for mornings.
• Some families even cut and bag several day’s worth of veggies, cheese, fruit, and other lunch items and store them together in the fridge.

Some general tips for easing family traffic jams during the school year:

• Post a list of useful phone numbers, and put them in your cell phones: Schools, teachers, lunch hotline, caregivers and emergency contacts such as doctors, dentists, and poison control.
• Post a list of useful websites near your computer, or bookmark them on your browser: Schools, PTA, homework sites, and websites suggested by teachers. The list will grow all year.
• Keep a list of usernames and passwords for parent portals and sites like Schoology handy.
• Take the school calendar and post it in an easy-to-notice location. Add the dates to your online calendar on your computer or phone.

A few minor changes to your home and organization can lead to major improvements in your family routines. A little planning, a little stockpile of supplies, and you can be ready for anything as the school year begins again. Enjoy the rest of your summer, and The Columbus Team wishes a happy back-to-school to everyone!