Friday, June 5, 2020
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Mind your manners on the bus & dress right

The first day of school can be traumatic: If you’re starting high school, it’ll be a different world from middle school and adjustments will be in order; if you’re starting kindergarten, it’ll be the first time for many new experiences.

Image Creative Commons by Ty Hatch, school bus, children boarding
Children board a school bus for the first day of school. (Ty Hatch / Flickr CC)

The Chicago Tribune turned to two first graders for some advice for our youngest new kindergartners. Here are a few highlights:

Don’t be nervous. Kindergarten is awesome and on the last day you get popsicles, which is the best day of the year.

Don’t worry about making new friends. Just go up to someone and say, “Hi, my name is…” and then say your name. That’s how friendships are made.

The bus seems scary at first especially because you don’t know many people. So just take a deep breath and find your seat. After a while you get used to it.

Don’t forget to use manners on the bus and in school. Always say “please” and “thank you,” and “excuse me” if you burp.

If you have a bad day, tell your mom and she will make you feel better.

Which got me thinking about those bus rides. We’ve written extensively about the need for drivers to use caution around school buses, especially those with the stop arm extended at a bus stop. But this first-grade advice turned my attention to what happens to kids on the bus.

Last week, as students in Granite City, Illinois, were boarding buses and getting dropped off, some were left at the wrong stop or had to wait about an hour to be picked up.

“I didn’t have enough time to be mad. I was more scared than anything; really scary situation not knowing where your little one is at,” KMOV-TV (CBS affiliate, St Louis) quoted Buddy Lamkin as saying, after his 8-year-old daughter was left at the wrong stop.

School officials attributed the confusion to changes in student transportation that took effect this year. “Very honestly I apologize to the public and I apologize to the parents,” the station quoted Jim Greenwald, superintendent for the Granite City School District, as saying.

Do you remember your first bus ride on a real school bus?

Dianne Isbell writes in the Belleville News-Democrat in southern Illinois that mothers trust her to advise their kids about manners on the school bus.

School buses can be, she writes, “an area of manners that seems to be neglected when overall school manners are addressed. Some of these may partially overlap safety rules, but here are the major bus etiquette rules and some basic ‘be nice’ bus guidelines.

“A very important rule: Be on time! Be five minutes early! It is rude to be late! The bus driver has a schedule to follow and waiting for passengers is not only frustrating, but could make the bus late picking up students at other locations and be late arriving at school.”

She goes on to remind students to be courteous, to say ‘good morning’ to the bus driver and to other students (and parents, where applicable).

“Yelling and shouting are not proper behavior while on the bus,” she adds. Not only could this distract the driver, but playground voices are best left on the playground. Also, you have to be able to hear the bus driver if he or she needs to tell you something.

More general advice about the first day of school comes from the News-Sentinel in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In addition to bus etiquette, Karen Hickman, a protocol expert, says parents should “talk about the importance of being on time. Being ready when the bus comes or when the carpool arrives will relieve a lot of stress in the mornings. Get as much ready the night before to make the morning routine more relaxed for everyone. Good morning routines can help start your child out on good habits they will need all through life.”

And, in reminding parents not to vent on social media every time their child has a disagreement with the teacher, she adds, “Teachers have a tough job and deserve parent support and respect. Let them know you want to partner with them in teaching your child.”

Finally, “Follow the school dress code and encourage good grooming,” she concludes. Kids “don’t need to be dressed in designer clothes. In fact, I would discourage setting them too far apart from the rest their classmates on either end of the clothing spectrum, but they do need to be appropriate in what they wear.”

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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