2005-09-22 / Direct Answers

Answers From the Teacher

My elementary-aged school children are riding the school bus with high-school students. I’m concerned that they might be mistreated or bothered by the older students. How can I prevent any problems?

Your children have the right to an uneventful bus ride to school every day. You can request that your children sit close to the bus driver, or you may want to pair them up with an older child your children already know well. If both the school district and parents at home are teaching proper bus behavior, then your children should have no problems riding the bus with older students. I believe that older children should be taught both to look out for and respect the feelings of the younger kids. Since everyone on the bus is part of the school community, then everyone should be looking out for one another.

However, if an incident of bullying occurs it must be handled immediately. Instruct your children to tell the bus driver first about any problems that they may be having on the bus. This may prove to be difficult though because there isn’t usually a lot of time for bus drivers to address the matters first hand; they can’t walk up and stop bad behavior while the bus is moving. If there’s no time for your child to get help from the bus driver, then he/she should be instructed to go directly to his/her classroom teacher and report the behavior. And, of course, your children should be telling you what’s happening. Help your child find the courage it may take to report the bullying behavior of others. Waiting to see what develops is not appropriate in cases of bullying. The best way to stop bullying is to put a stop to it before it develops in to a chronic situation. If the situation doesn’t improve, take your concerns to the principal. You owe it to your child to make him/ her feel safe.

Now that my older children are all in school, my preschooler is looking for me to entertain her all day. Do you have any ideas that may make the days more interesting for the both of us?

Routine is very helpful for preschool-ers and quite possibly for those who are taking care of them. Use a calendar, maybe a special one just for your and your preschooler, and write down your schedules each day. You can even help your child learn the days of the week if you recite them and point them out on the calendar. Schedule trips to the library, or local museum. Perhaps Monday could be museum day, Tuesday could be library day, and Wednesday might be the day you go to the park. Check out your newspaper for free or inexpensive programs de-signed especially for preschool children.

If you are home in the morning doing chores, have your child engage in quiet play with building blocks, books, or with a little time built in for educational television.

When you’re ready to head out the door, pack what you might need to-gether, even though it may take you longer than if you were to pack without her. She will soon learn that when you go to the library you need to bring the library books, and when you go for a walk in the park, you may need refreshments. Perhaps pack-ing things together may help her learn to prepare ahead when she reaches school.

Send questions to: Answers from the Teacher, P.O. Box 54, South Egremont, MA 01258. Questions may also be e-mailed to answersfromtheteacher@adelphia.net.

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