It’s feet—not wheels—that go round on this bus.

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Communities around the world continue to fall in step with the “walking school bus”—a group of children walking to and from school under the supervision of a “driver” and one or more “conductors” who are adults.

While some parents worry about safety on walking school buses, these concerns can be addressed by careful planning. Organizers make sure bus routes are safe, everyone knows pedestrian safety rules, and that there are enough volunteers to keep an eye on everyone.

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To start a walking school bus in your community, it might be easier to start with a small bus. Try asking another family or neighbors who are within walking distance of the school. Then plan the route and go for a test walk without the kids. Ask for volunteers to “drive” the bus and draw up a schedule. There should be at least one adult for every six children.

For kids who might find it too far to walk to school, taking a “bicycle train” (which is the same as a walking school bus, only with bikes) might be a good alternative.

Elementary students riding to school.

On top of the obvious benefit of being able to save on fuel and transportation costs, walking school buses come with a whole busload of benefits. Walking keeps kids fit and fights obesity. Walking with the same group every day gives “bus mates” plenty of opportunities to bond and make friends. School attendance records have also been seen to improve among bus “riders”.

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In fact, walking is no longer just a way to get to school, but a way to be in school. A “walking classroom” in Los Angeles has fifth graders listening to podcasts while walking three miles, three times a week. Podcast topics range from art to taxes, and teachers quiz the students on what they listened to during the day. Walking classrooms also have proven to be especially good for students with auditory learning styles.


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