For your child, making their way to school independently is an important part of growing up (and for you, letting go ). As they’re likely to be travelling further, this could well be the first time they’ll use public transport, walk or cycle very far on their own.
Schools are a great source of information about home to school transport, they’ll tell you which bus routes stop close to the school, whether there are any dedicated services for the school, and common walking and cycling routes for students. But there’s still plenty that you’ll need to do to make your child's journey worry free, and safe from the first day.
However they’ll be travelling, talk about road safety messages together and make sure they understand the dangers:
- Stress the need to concentrate. No distractions means no headphones, no listening to music, and no talking and texting on mobiles when they’re around traffic.
- Make sure they carry a bit of money and know what to do in an emergency.
Walking and cycling
If you live close enough for your child to walk or cycle to school, then it’s a great way to start the day and promotes good health. Things to talk about are:
- The safest and most commonly used walking routes, cycle routes and cycle paths.
- Volume and speed of traffic.
- Walk or cycle the route together and get them to point out the dangers e.g. busy roads, no footpath, no street-lighting, bus lanes etc.
- Find the safest places to cross roads.
- Are there any friends they can walk or cycle with?
- Have they passed their cycling proficiency test?
- Can they safely cycle with their school bag and wearing uniform?
- Is there anywhere to store their bike at school?
Using public transport
Many children will be travelling too far to walk or cycle and will be catching a bus or a train by themselves for the first time. If you’re happy it’s a journey they can manage, talk about:
- Where the bust stop or train station is and how they’ll get there.
- Which number bus they can get, or which platform to get the train from.
- Reading the timetable - get them to mark which services they can catch.
- What to do if they miss their bus/train, it’s cancelled or late.
- Who to ask if they need help.
The Department for Transport provides more information about road safety.