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Parental guidance: Help kindergartner adjust to the school bus

Photo Credit: Newsday / Karen Wiles Stabile

My kindergartner rode the bus with no problem the first week of school, but now she doesn't want to. Should I give in and drive her?

This pattern is common, says Laurie Zelinger, elementary school psychologist in the Oceanside school district. "I find that the most frequent amount of issues happen the second week of school," she says. Some teachers speculate that after children are home the first weekend, they are surprised they have to go back to school again on Monday.

You shouldn't drive her, Zelinger advises. "Help your child figure out how to master the anxiety rather than avoid it," Zelinger says. Figure out with her what the "bad" part is. Is it separating from you? Is it chaotic when the bus gets to school? Or is it the ride itself?

Work out with the bus driver a seat held for the child so she can sit in the same spot every day. "Predictability means comfort," Zelinger says. See if an older student will sit with your daughter daily as her "bus friend." Give your child an activity for the ride, such as a drawing pad or mini Etch A Sketch, she suggests. Talk to the school about how to make arrival calmer.

You could consider a behavior chart rewarding your child for tasks in the morning, including getting on the bus. The reward could even be that if she gets on the bus Mondays through Thursdays, you'll drive her on Fridays, Zelinger says.

Do you have a parental guidance question? Send an email to beth.whitehouse@newsday.com.

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