Metro-East Living

How to mind your manners on the school bus

Moye Elementary School students get off the bus in an orderly fashion on the 2015 first day of school.
Moye Elementary School students get off the bus in an orderly fashion on the 2015 first day of school.

Q: We moved here this summer and this is the first year my two children will be riding the school bus. My husband and I have always driven them to school before because we lived just a few blocks from their school. We’ve been inundating them with all kinds of pointers for good manners at their new school to the point they are closing their ears, I think. The night before they were to go on the bus, we suddenly realized we hadn’t said much about school bus manners. We covered a few as I walked them to their stop, but rather than us lecturing them, would you provide some bus manners. They seem to listen when I read them your pointers on various subjects while they are having breakfast.

A: Ah, yes, school bus manners. I remember those bus-riding days very well myself. It is an area of manners that seems to be neglected when overall school manners are addressed. Some of these may partially overlap safety rules, but here are the major bus etiquette rules and some basic “be nice” bus guidelines.

  • A very important rule: Be on time! Be five minutes early! It is rude to be late! The bus driver has a schedule to follow and waiting for passengers is not only frustrating, but could make the bus late picking up students at other locations and be late arriving at school.
  • An important “be nice” rule: Say good morning and smile to the other students (and their parents) as they get in line to get on the bus. And, especially this: Say good morning and smile to the bus driver as you get on the bus. This is called “being courteous and polite.”
  • Do not push and shove others to get on the bus or when exiting the bus. Not only could some other student get hurt, but it is extremely rude.
  • Remember the backpacks you are wearing take up a lot of space. Maintain extra space between you and other students as you get on and off the bus so the backpacks do not touch or hit other students.
  • Yelling and shouting are not proper behavior while on the bus. This can be very distracting to the bus driver, so save that for the playground. Remember to use your “inside voice” while on the bus.
  • It is critically important to stop talking and listen when the bus driver speaks and gives instructions. Follow those instructions!
  • If you are assigned a specific seat, take that seat immediately and stay in that seat until the bus comes to a full stop and the bus drivers tells you it is time to exit the bus. If you are not assigned a seat, find a seat quickly and sit down. Say hello to the person who may already be seated and sharing your seat.
  • Make sure you do not take up more than your half of the seat you are sharing. Make sure your backpack does not touch them or hit them unintentionally.
  • Once seated, keep your feet under your seat, always being very careful not to allow your feet to be in the aisle because you would not want to trip someone.
  • If there is a “No Food or Drinks on the Bus” rule, be sure to follow that rule.
  • Never throw anything out of the windows. Never put your arms or head out of the windows.
  • Keep your seat area tidy. If you drop a piece of paper on the bus floor, pick it up.
  • Be friendly to your seat mate; say goodbye if you depart the bus first. Say goodbye to the bus driver.

Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Lifestyle Editor Maureen Houston, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to