A 5 Step Method to Teach Your Child
This is a method we recommend for preparing your child for all kinds of new activities, with actual bus rides (or walks, or plane rides, etc.) and a slow transition to being on their own.
If not you, determine who is going to ride with your child ride on the bus. Start with one person as the helper.
1. Planning and Safety
Review the information above on the differences between a school bus and a public bus, and the planning and safety sections.
2. Ride the Bus
In this phase, you or a helper will stay at your child’s side and show them all the steps of riding the bus. You’ve already gone over safety and how to handle different situations. Here you’ll introduce how to be be a responsible bus passenger.
- Before they get on the bus, make sure they’ve taken care of their hygiene, are nicely dressed, and they have their bus notes, exact fare (or bus pass), and cell phone.
- Standing with them at the bus stop, point to the sign that shows which bus stops at this location.
- When you both agree this is the bus you want, step up by the sign so the driver knows you want to get on. You may wave to the bus, too.
- Model saying good morning to the bus driver and put your money in the box. Your child may add, “Hi, I am going to work. I have to get off by the Taco Bell.”
- Help them pick the seat best for them. Suggest they sit close to the driver.
- Talk to them about appropriate manners while they’re on the bus.
- Show them the bell they will need to ring when they want the bus to stop. It’s also good to find and point out a landmark to watch for near their stop.
- Have them join you in saying thanks to the driver when getting off the bus. The only caution here is that some buses stop on a sidewalk that can be very busy with pedestrians or bikes or both. Always look both ways when getting off the bus!
3. Helper Fades Support
You may start at their side and not say anything, then adjust further by sitting right behind them. As your child becomes more confident, you can become just another person on the bus. This may take a couple of bus trips or it could take quite a few — it just depends on how your child does.
As you begin to fade your assistance, it’s important to allow them to figure things out on their own and even make mistakes. You should not jump right in and fix things quickly, unless they’re in danger. Allowing this kind of problem-solving will help them reach independence goal.
A good example of this would be if your child forgets to ring the bell at their stop. You may want to intervene only if a couple of stops have passed and it looks as if they don’t intend to ring the bell.
4. Follow In by Car
Just like it sounds, your child will ride the bus independently and you will follow behind by car.
5. Ride the Bus Alone — In Touch by Phone
Finally, your child will travel independently but will always call you when they’re leaving and after they arrive at their destination.
Different people will have to spend varying amounts of time in each phase. Let them take the lead on when they’re ready to move on. Likewise, you may be able to skip some phases.
Encourage them each step of the way with a reward. Coming up with a reward or incentive system may be a crucial component of successful bus training.
Use visuals as much as you think your child needs. Taking photographs and creating your own story might be fun for your child to show others what they are now doing on their own.
Being able to ride a bus independently is a great accomplishment. It opens up a world of opportunity for your child. They’ll probably want to take the bus home from work, or try to take the bus to different places like the recreation center, a movie, or even a restaurant. The possibilities are endless. For each new location, your child may require additional training using a similar process, though with experience they may not take as long to achieve mastery.
Congratulations! You did it!