From:  Julie Hassell – Early Years

Tip:  All aboard!

Going on public transport for a child is a very exciting experience, think of all those colourful buttons, sliding doors and tickets, but for a parent, it can make you anxious. Here are some top tips and advice for making public transport fun for all the family.

Interacting with your child

Waving bye bye to your car and opting to go on a journey on public transport gives you the opportunity to fully engage and interact with your child, rather than having to concentrate on driving too. We all know that driving with children in the car can at times prove testing, opting for public transport gives you the ability to give your children your full attention. This makes a pretty mundane trip to see a friend, or visit family an exciting one that can also help with your child’s development.

Think ahead!

Plan your journey, this will help make the trip a successful one. You can now access live updates across the public transport network, so you should have no train failures on your hands, which could make the whole experience a very stressful one! There is also now maps of the stations available, so you will even know ahead of arriving if your pram will be able to get to where you need to go.

Toilet stops can always be a fun part of going via public transport – so looking ahead on where you can find the nearest is a good idea, or pack your travel potty, even with older children this can prove a godsend! Nothing worse than being on the way to somewhere and not being able to go for a number one or two.

Avoid commuting times! Make sure you plan your journey to not coincide with these, it will just make the whole journey far more stressful and busier. Nobody needs the 5 pm rush on their hands alongside tired children.

Talk to them about your journey – tell your child all the exciting things that lay ahead of them on your trip out. This will alleviate many worries for all involved too.  Why not read them a story about your mode of chosen transport, or sing some nursery rhymes the night before It would also be advised that you chat through the safety aspects, so standing away from the platform edge, or sliding doors, or holding onto your tickets – this will all help your child understand what lies ahead.

Development benefits

Having new experiences builds up children’s knowledge and enables them to learn and make connections with the world around them. They can build links in everyday life, such as playing with their toy train set or singing the wheels on the bus or even role play with their friends.

It can also help expand their vocabulary with them learning new words such as conductor, turnstile, carriage, aisle etc. Make sure you get a window seat can also help them explore the world outside the window as you zoom along.

Building on their social skills is also key, asking them to join in with ordering your tickets, or counting the seats to find your place and checking the time you arrive and depart too can also help grow their numeracy skills.

Build Memories

Make sure you take lots of pictures on your trip out, helping a child to remember their adventure and bring up new conversations long after your journey. You could also keep things from the day to build a collage or a piece of crafty artwork together.

Also, why not pick up a story when you’re out to read that bedtime – here are a few of our favourites:

·      Look Inside… Things That Go – by Rob Lloyd Jones.

·      You Can’t Take an Elephant On The Bus – by Patricia Cleve;and-Peck and David Tazzyman

·      Naughty Bus – by Jan & Jerry Oke

·      Mungo Monkey goes on a Trian – by Linda Monks

·      Down by the station – By Jess Stockham

We really would love to hear if you find our tips and advice useful, and/or you would like a certain topic covered – just let us know, please contact Ian on hello@firststepspoynton.co.uk or call 01625 859867.