Say “Yes!” to the Bus

[ 6 ] January 10, 2011 |

First, a disclaimer: My child’s bus ride is a reasonable 20 minutes. So far she’s had nothing but positive experiences with her fellow bus-mates (except for the one time they booed her for being a Yankees fan). And I work from home, making drop off and pick up very easy to manage.

Yes, I do understand and respect the valid reasons that parents decide to drive their kids to school. But my motivation in encouraging you to put your kids on the bus instead of drive them — if and when your personal situation allows — is primarily to increase the time your children spend outside.

Wait…What?

Let me explain. Every morning, my kids and I head out the door about 15 minutes before the bus is scheduled to pick my daughter up. My son and I then get another 15 minutes or so outside as we wave goodbye to Sierra and walk home. Barring severe inclement weather, that time almost always gets extended — either by my encouragement or by Devin’s curiosity. (Today we spent more time than I care to admit looking at deer scat.)Then, at the end of the day, we have at least another 15 minutes outside as we walk to and then hang out at the bus stop, my neighbors and I talking about anything and everything with our children playing together close by.Kids play in snow while waiting for bus

If you add it up, we might spend 45-60 minutes outside, just because of the bus! Besides the many benefits of unstructured time outside (not to mention the environmental benefits of mass transit), my kids also gain from things like having to choose appropriate clothing for the weather and reflecting on the seasonal changes around us. And quite frankly, even little nature-loving me is finding it more difficult to get outside these days as the weather gets colder and nastier. At least the bus gets us out there!

So, if time and situation allow, try putting your child on the bus a few times a week, or just in the mornings or the afternoons. You might be surprised how easy (and healthy) it is to let someone else take your kid to school!

Category: education + schools, nature/science


Jeanine Silversmith

about the author ()

Jeanine is a self-described tree hugging, science and math geek whose love of nature, coupled with her absolute certainty that people, especially children, are happier, healthier, and wiser when they regularly spend time in nature, led her to establish Rhode Island Families in Nature. Jeanine also works for the RI Environmental Education Association, supporting formal and informal teachers as they create "place-based" curriculum. She loves to hike, run, garden, bake, and go camping, especially when accompanied by her husband, Ian, her daughter, Sierra, and her son, Devin. They live in Wakefield.

Comments (6)

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  1. Margaret says:

    Great perspective! Thanks.

  2. Loved this! We can’t actually say yes to the bus because we live too close to school and our kids aren’t bus riders as a result. We are trying to walk more – it’s 9/10 of a mile and not all of my kids go to the same school so mornings aren’t much of a say yes to anything situation besides getting out the door but still, I really appreciate this angle. We’re looking forward to next year when 2 of our kids will be at the 9/10-mile-away school and the other will be at the school across the street (!!!!). Great tip to build in extra time for exploration when possible.

  3. So great to hear your thoughts. Good luck next year – how exciting!

  4. A.Googy says:

    Great in theory, but for us the kids would get picked up by the bus around 6:15am and they dont get dropped off until almost 5pm. I think an 11hour day is just too much to ask of them. Also – Im not sure about where you are but here in Providence there is at least a 30min window of when the bus drops the kids off. It is a couple blocks from our house, so it is less than pleasant waiting there on a cold winter day. I’m all for outdoors time with the kids, but I think that the reality of bussing in RI makes it very hard for many of us.

  5. I never thought about it this way before, Janine. I also think riding the bus allows opportunities for social development that kids don’t always have during the school day – interacting with kids of different ages and from different classrooms. Plus, it could be a chance to learn and become friends with who lives near by. I had a close friend in middle school who lived just a block away and it was the bus that brought us together!

  6. In response to A.Googy, I totally agree that there are many valid reasons to drive your children to school – your reasons among them. It’s important to me that readers understand that I understand that (hence my “disclaimers” above). But if there’s no reason other than unfounded fear, I don’t see why a kid can’t just take the bus…

    In response to Megan from PCM – I appreciate you bringing up some of the many reasons why unstructured time is beneficial to kids. I think learning to “navigate through life” is just as important as learning to read and write, and so I try really hard to provide those experiences for my children. Or, really, let them create those experiences whenever/however they can.

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