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11 year olds and public transportation

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 

would you let your almost 11 year old take public transportation to go to school?

 

dd starts 6th grade at a middle school 10 miles away. the first two miles she will scooter or bike depending on her mood to catch the bus that will drop her two minutes walking distance from school.

 

how would you feel about that?

 

that is what our plan is. but I have been surprised by how many of my friends - either with no children or with babies - do NOT want dd to take public transportation. they feel it could be dangerous.

 

here are my reasons for sending her

* she is mature and is aware of her surroundings

* she is miss super independence and wants to do it

* she is a tall girl so she looks older

* she follows rules (I don't make many, but she knows which ones are safety ones that she has to follow)

* she had been scootering back and forth from her school 2 miles away thru very busy traffic for a week and did exactly as I told her

* she knows danger rules and has a cool head when in danger situation

* she has a phone

 

I have had so many friends express shock that I expect dd to take the public bus that I am now second guessing myself. but they are also the people who listen to the news and hear about all the abductions and child deaths.

 

what do you think?

post #2 of 39

I think you're comfortable with it, then go with it.  For myself, I would not have been comfortable with that with my children, my two oldest are older than that now, and I have one younger.  I would be a wreck to be honest.  I'd think about them getting hit by a car, falling and getting hurt, getting kidnapped, but that's my anxiety.  Also, my oldest is on the autism spectrum, and at that age, I think it would have been too much for him.  He's 14 now, and I'd probably let him do it...if I could be sure he'd remember to bring his phone!  My middle son is probably capable of it.  He's 12, but he looks like he's 9.  My youngest is 9 and he's ADHD personified.  He'd get distracted by a squirrel and end up in Alaska.  

 

So basically, it depends on the kid, what type of area you live in, and what you are personally comfortable with.  

post #3 of 39

P.S.  I'd also post in the teens and pre-teen area.  You may get some more been there done that stories! 

post #4 of 39
I wouldn't. A lot of questionable people ride the city bus and the school bus is what DD will take.
post #5 of 39

Yes, from your description I'd be fine with that (well, really I'd be a bit nervous, but it would just be my constant mom-anxiety).  Having ridden in cars, and ridden the school bus, and biked in traffic, and ridden public transit, I'd say that a bit of biking/scootering combined with public transit is preferable to the alternatives, and has the added advantage of giving her that invigorating bit of exercise before class.  What are your friends' specific concerns?  

post #6 of 39
Thread Starter 

their main concern is questionable people. abduction. pedofile.

 

dd rides the scooter on a busy road all with sidewalks. yes there are questionable people on the bus. but she gets on in a busy area and gets off on a busy area too.

 

I hoping we can figure out a car pool in the future once school starts.

 

I personally don't want to do public transport for the amount of time she will be on the bus - time she could spend on homework unless there are a few kids taking the bus together.

 

the other concern is what if she falls asleep while going to school and misses her stop. perhaps she can set an alarm on her phone.

 

and in our city unless you are a child with special needs, no one else has access to a school bus anymore.

post #7 of 39

I would be a little nervous, but only because I could not see my son doing that. He tends to be a daydreamer and often walks around not paying attention. If he was with a friend, I would feel better about it.

 

My personal experience with getting to and from school was not that great. I was ready and walked home from high school (and maybe even middle school), usually by myself. It was about a mile walk. I remember one time, there as a man in the woods, following me from a distance while taking pictures of me. I was also attacked by a man who was released from a state hospital for "criminally insane" people. He was released for the holidays and was supposed to return, but never did, and they failed to go get him...then he went off his medication, and there you go.

 

It sounds like your child won't need to walk that far, and will mostly be on a bus, which seems safer than walking. Perhaps you could shadow him a few times and then give him some tips on what he could do better?? I know he might not feel trusted, so you could throw it out there first, and tell him that you might follow him once or twice at first, just to make sure it goes smoothly. Better to be up front.

post #8 of 39
Here's my BTDT piece of experience. When my dd was just a bit older (the summer after 6th grade) she took 3 buses, including a transfer at the University where she had to tell the bus driver that she was going to be transferring to the #9 so that he could radio ahead so it would wait for2 extra minutes. She did fine. The Friday before she started her siblings and I all did it as a trial run/adventure. It was the only way we could make the music program work - I work 17 miles away.

Yes, there are sometimes questionable people on the bus. But there are also a lot of hard working people that for whatever reason take public transportation. I view it as another step toward independence. I don't understand parents who totally shelter kiddos and then turn over the keys to a 2 ton weapon. I think independence should be given in baby steps as they are ready. In this sand in other posts, it sounds as if your dd has a good head on her shoulders and if this is what what works for the 2 of you, while not necessarily ideal for the reasons you stated (homework time, time out of her day) you should not have mamma guilt or second guess yourself.
post #9 of 39

If your child is mature enough to do it? I'd have no problem with it. There are "questionable" people and pedophiles everywhere (even driving school buses and teaching). 

post #10 of 39

BTDT

 

My DD started to take a public bus to school when she was 11. First day, DH took her on it.  Second day, DH told her to walk ahead and he remained about 10 feet behind, so she could "solo" under observation.  They did that a couple more times and then we asked if she was comfortable going by herself, and she said she was.

 

Later, when I was hearing tales from my friends whose kids were taking the school bus to school, I was glad she was on a public bus w/ a lot of adults heading to work, rather than on the school bus where there was a lot of loud voices, teasing, and generally annoying pre-teen and teenage behavior.

post #11 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by skreader View Post

BTDT

 

My DD started to take a public bus to school when she was 11. First day, DH took her on it.  Second day, DH told her to walk ahead and he remained about 10 feet behind, so she could "solo" under observation.  They did that a couple more times and then we asked if she was comfortable going by herself, and she said she was.

 

Later, when I was hearing tales from my friends whose kids were taking the school bus to school, I was glad she was on a public bus w/ a lot of adults heading to work, rather than on the school bus where there was a lot of loud voices, teasing, and generally annoying pre-teen and teenage behavior.

Exactly!  Some really crazy, and sometimes scary, stuff can happen on a schoolbus. 

post #12 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by rachelsmama View Post

Exactly!  Some really crazy, and sometimes scary, stuff can happen on a schoolbus. 

 

Yep! My daughter always came home w/interesting stories. 

post #13 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by meemee View Post

their main concern is questionable people. abduction. pedofile.

 

dd rides the scooter on a busy road all with sidewalks. yes there are questionable people on the bus. but she gets on in a busy area and gets off on a busy area too.

 

I hoping we can figure out a car pool in the future once school starts.

 

I personally don't want to do public transport for the amount of time she will be on the bus - time she could spend on homework unless there are a few kids taking the bus together.

 

the other concern is what if she falls asleep while going to school and misses her stop. perhaps she can set an alarm on her phone.

 

and in our city unless you are a child with special needs, no one else has access to a school bus anymore.


Questionable people are everywhere, the advantage of public transit is that the questionable people are surrounded by normal people, and there are even a few people who are willing to stick their necks out to help people on there.  And the more comfortable she becomes with different forms of transportation, the better equipped she'll be to remove herself from uncomfortable or dangerous situations in the future.

 

In my experience, most people don't fall very deeply asleep on the bus, so unless she's one of the very small minority that sleeps soundly on the bus, she's unlikely to miss her stop...or if she does, she'll notice right away and get off at the next stop.

 

How much more time would she have for homework if she got a drive to school?  Would it even be enough to make a difference?  It's possible that getting herself to school might have a real benefit in and of itself:  http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2013/02/kids-who-walk-or-bike-school-concentrate-better-study-shows/4585/ 

post #14 of 39

where i am in Europe you simply don't have school buses,

Kindergarten and grade school are walking distance most times (with many small schools to cover most neighborhood)

& by the end of 5th grade most kids walk to and from school by themselves

 

then middle schools are not so numerous and much larger in size so by the time they turn 11 and a half, everybody hops on a town bus

(or sometimes school buses for those coming from far away catchment areas/ who want to study a special subject in a specific school)

 

quite a few parents still come to the school gate in grade school (but less than 50%)

but by the time the kids turn 11 ... very few parents escort their children to school

(sometimes they do special pick up for dropping at music class or a medical appointment... but it's not the everyday norm ...)

post #15 of 39

The way I look at it, if an 11 year old can't ride a bus by themselves, how can only 4 years later that same person be in charge of a vehicle driving down the highway at 60+mph? 

 

You know your kid and the enviornment. What people do in other places, countries... I would take lightly, because it won't all apply. Where I am, absolutely. My 8yo can walk or bike home from school by himself. My dd just started private way south on the other side of town. She is only 6, so we drive her. I don't plan on doing this for years. By the time she is 9 or 10, she ought to be taking the bus by herself. 

post #16 of 39
Thread Starter 

wow. there are so many perspectives I hadn't thought of here. things like the other people travelling on the bus, the article on morning exercise, deep sleep and 5 years later.

 

as I read your replies I am reminded of how much dd really wants to do this. we have had different opportunities in the last year or so in various different fields to challenge dd's fears mostly due to her anxiety so her  trepidations no longer hold her back.  

 

also yes on the effects of early morning exercise. dd all her life has done better if she gets an active start to the day. I had forgotten how much it helps her concentrate.

 

I think dd is getting to the point where she doesn't want me to drop her to her school gate.

 

time is a BIG factor. I am not sure if it is positive or negative though because having the time to just relax on the bus I find huge. the scooter/bus or bus/bus will take dd at least 1 1/2 each way as opposed to driving 20 - 30 mins. being a night owl she will have to get a really early start to the day. why oh why does school start soooo early. 7:20 am. yikes. and then the following year if she wants to take intermediate band which I am guessing she will - she has to be there by 6:40 am which is zero period. an extra class.

 

the more I think of this - with all your different perspectives - it sounds like a real positive idea. dd's self confidence will shoot through the ceiling. not just that she can do it, but that SHE will have an experience all by herself that is not shared. I notice dd enjoys this more and more these days.

 

wow there are layers to this I hadn't even thought about. dd already does a few things that most kids in her class are not allowed to do. she really really enjoys and values those experiences which really gives her a different perspective in life. main lesson - mostly things are not such a big deal as others make it out to be. a valuable lesson I can see.

post #17 of 39

I would in a heartbeat. DD1 is 10.5 this summer and this summer I declared that I am no longer responsible for transporting her to and from gymnastics practice. She trains 5 days a week and pick up is smack in the middle of the baby's nap time. She bikes 1.5 miles back and forth every day. School year is different because she trains until dark so we have to get her, but summer time? A whole other story! She has been doing it for three weeks now. She is responsible for packing up her gear, knowing when to leave, calling before she leaves to come home or calling when she gets there. She loves it. Sometimes she complains about the long hill to come home but she also likes having the independence and my trust. We have a free trolley that goes around our town and as soon as we have a free morning, I am going to teach her to get around town on it as well. 

post #18 of 39

DS was about 12 y.o. when he started taking public buses to school.  He made one transfer en route. It was fine. There were a lot of other students riding with him. He could have taken the school bus but he preferred the public system, partly because it was faster. The school bus took a long milk run around several neighbourhoods and we were the first stop in the morning and the last stop on the route. It made a long day. 

 

DD was 11 y.o when she took a combination of public bus/commuter train. Again, she was fine. At that time we were living in a large non-North American city without a school bus system. I found it remarkable how young children were riding the public transportation system independently. They were probably 9 or 10, but some of them looked even younger, perhaps 8 or so. No one blinked an eye at it. On days that Dd didn't take the bus, it was an hour-long walk past some very dense bush. Honestly, that concerned me more than the bus or train. 

 

We did all the typical preparation like practice runs, reviewing what to do in various circumstances, how to handle emergencies, routinely checking in, encouraging them to ride with friends.......  

post #19 of 39

In our city school there aren't commonly school buses for kids starting in 6th so all kids take public transit (paid for by the city schools), walk or are driven to school. My DC is also starting 6th and I expect a large portion of her peers will take the bus. I'm not ready for that, however, and will take her. But, for us, that has a large bit to do with DC, her size (she's the size of a 7 year old), and the fact that her father and I don't ride the bus so she has no exposure to using public transit. It is, however, a goal of ours to get her comfortable with using it by highschool.  

post #20 of 39

I used public buses to get to/from middle school all three years.  Heck, I used the city bus to get to/from gymnastics class at 10 years old/4th grade.  And I transferred buses at the busy city transportation hub.  Statistically the world is safer now than it was then.  If we had the option, my kids would ride them now.  Unfortunately there is precious little public transit in our city so it's not.
 

Given the stories I've heard about kid's behavior on school buses, I think a child would be safer with adults, even a few "questionable" ones.  No one is going to be able to force her off the bus as long as she has the basics of raising a fuss if someone tries.  During the day in busy parts of town she's never going to be alone and unobserved.  Of course she needs a few basics like sitting near the driver and in an open seat that faces the aisle if that's possible so she can't get trapped between someone and a window.  But it sounds like she is mature enough to handle this just fine.

 

People have really different ideas about kid's safety.  As a parent, you need to go with your own gut, not what someone else makes you feel.  And its hard when you are going against the grain -- as many of us know!  My DD walks 4 blocks home from elementary school (she's 10) and her girl scout leader is giving me h### about it.  I am certain she is safe and both of us are comfortable with the arrangement.  After explaining it once I have resorted to "Thanks for your concern" and moving on.  If she needs to drive her children less than 1/2 a block to school then so be it.  OK, I think she's a little crazy, but that's her right.

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