Make Sure Your Child Gets to School Safely Every Day
Whether your child walks, rides the school bus, or takes public transportation to school
Planning how your child will get to and from school safely each day can be a stressful task for you, especially if it is the first time your child will be traveling to school without you or another adult. Whether your child walks, rides the school bus, or takes public transportation to school, there are ways to help ensure your child gets to school safely.
School safety tips
- Talk to other parents in your neighborhood about how their children are getting to school. Create a buddy system, if you can, where your child walks, bikes or takes the bus with another child or group of children. And they all come home together the same way at the end of the day.
- Practice the route your child will take to school. Help your child become familiar with the route and feel comfortable. This will also give you the opportunity to share and practice the safety tips below.
Basic Rules for Everyone:
- If your child encounters someone on the way home from school and feels uncomfortable, make sure she knows how to get away, find help and keep herself safe. Please see onetoughjob Child Safety tips for more information.
- Make sure your child knows that she can and should talk to you about any incident out of the ordinary that she encountered on the way home, especially if she felt uncomfortable about a situation.
- Make sure your child leaves with plenty of time to get to school so she is not racing to get there and forgets the safety tips you have taught her.
- Your child is never to leave school with anyone she does not know.
- Your child is never to leave school without anyone without first getting your approval or the approval of the adult in charge, namely the babysitter or a grandparent.
- If there is a change in who picks your child up at school or how she will get home (or go to another child’s home at the end of the day), you will always discuss it with her beforehand and with her teacher.
- There cannot be a last minute change of plans to go to somewhere after school without your approval and knowledge or that of the adult in charge.
Tips for Walking to the School Bus Stop, Public Transportation, or School
- Be realistic about your child’s pedestrian skills. Carefully consider whether or not your child is ready to walk to school without adult supervision. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that until children are at least 10 or 11 years old, they do not have the skills to handle traffic. For some children, learning these skills may take longer.
- Walk the route with your child before school begins to make sure your child’s walk is a safe route. Make sure your child, particularly young children, cross the street where there are well-trained adult crossing guards at the intersection.
- Dress your child in bright colored clothing and put reflective tape on your child’s backpack or shoes so she will be more visible to drivers, especially in the winter when it may be dark by the time your child returns from school.
- Find additional safety tips to share with your child for his or her walk to school visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.
Share with your child these safety tips for riding the school bus:
- Direct your child to stand at least 5 giant steps (about 10 feet) away from the edge of the road while waiting for the bus.
- No horseplay while waiting for the bus. Instruct your child to be attentive to the traffic and standing safely on the sidewalk.
- Tell your child she must wait until the bus comes to a complete stop and the driver opens the door before walking up and getting on. The bus’s lights and stop sign are turned on to stop the traffic and make sure children are safe.
- Direct your child to look both ways and make sure the cars are stopped before she crosses the street to get on or off the bus. Never dart out in front of or behind the bus, even when the lights are on. Make sure it is safe to cross.
- Once your child gets on the bus, she should find a seat and stay seated. Do not throw things on the bus, no rough housing, no horseplay, and do not stick anything out the windows!
- Be courteous to the bus driver and follow the rules—it is the driver’s job to keep you safe!
Tips for Biking to School Safely
- Massachusetts law requires that a bicycle helmet be worn by a person 16 years of age or under who is riding as an operator or passenger on a bicycle, in line skates, a scooter, or a skate board. Always require that your child wear a bike helmet, no matter how long or short the ride is.
- Teach your child to ride on the right, in single file if riding with others, in the same direction that the traffic is going.
- Teach your child to use appropriate hand signals when turning or stopping and to respect and obey traffic lights and street signs.
- Make sure your child wears bright colored clothes and has reflective material on his clothing, shoes or backpack to make him more visible to cars. Children should never bike after dark.
- Visit the American Academy of Pediatrics bike safety page at or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website at for more information on bike safety.
Tips for Using Public Transportation Safely
- Make sure your child is comfortable and familiar with riding public transportation before the first day of school. Let your child know that if he feels unsafe or uncomfortable at any time he should tell a Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) employee. Point out MBTA employees (i.e. the driver or employee selling tokens) when you practice riding the bus or the train so your child knows where to find them.
- A public transit bus does not have red flashing lights and a stop sign like a school bus to stop traffic when a child is getting on or off the bus, and drivers do not supervise children crossing the street. Make sure your child knows not to cross in front of a public bus. Instead, tell her to step back and wait for the bus to pull away so she has a clear view of the street.
- When waiting for the subway, make sure your child knows to stand at least 2 giant steps away from the edge of the platform. Let her know that it is not safe to run or play in the subway station nor is it safe to try to keep the doors from closing by sticking her arm or leg in the way.
- For more information about using public transportation in Massachusetts, see the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority website.
This information was compiled by Administrator, and reviewed by the Program Staff of the Massachusetts Children’s Trust Fund.