Monday, May 27, 2013

No Food (or drinks) on the Bus!

I subscribe to Google news using keywords such as "school" and "school bus". These keywords are used to pull relevant articles and then Google sends them to me via e-mail every day. The other day, there was an article that detailed a bus driver's heroic actions to save a child from choking on a piece of hard candy. The child is in 4th grade and is 10 years old, clearly old enough by some standards to handle sucking on a piece of hard candy responsibly.

Every year we go through safety training for this very reason. We learn CPR, the Heimlich Maneuver, and other ways of managing potential emergencies that arise on the school bus. None of us expect to use any of our training, but when faced with a child choking, or one having an allergic reaction or other type of emergency, we jump into action.

Parents wonder why we do not allow our students to consume food items on the buses. For one thing, it makes a mess, but the primary reason is displayed in the article above, the REAL possibility that a child could CHOKE. Parents can deny this all they want and tell us that it won't happen to their child. Thing is, this child in the article above, was a very responsible child who just happened to choke on a piece of candy which stopped her from breathing. It can happen to the most responsible of children. Choking isn't limited to candy either. Buses travel over varied terrain from dirt to paved roads, uphill and downhill, all it takes is a serious bump from the bus turning, or running over an unforeseen pothole to cause a child to inhale sharply while eating on the bus. In my district, there was a child who choked from sucking on hard candy on the bus when she was 14, so choking is a very real hazard.

Parents - the next time you ask us to make a concession for your child to eat on the bus and you get told "no" consider that we are simply looking out for your child's safety and do not want to have to perform CPR/Heimlich Maneuver to save your child because they choked on food you allowed them to bring from home and consume on the bus.

Safety Conscious!

The Bus Driver

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Food Choices and Behavior Issues in Children

Hello Blogworld!

I have been quite busy with life as of late, and have not had much of a chance to sit down and formulate a decent blog post in a while. With being back at college for a career change, my priorities lately have simply been to keep up with the ever changing schedule. I finished second semester of college strong with another 4.0 GPA, all A's (Yes, I am a high achiever - though occasionally I do have to employ the use of spell check.) Summer semester started a few weeks ago and I am going through a writing course that is required for me to complete my major. I'm enjoying the class so far and we have had some very interesting discussions which incidentally has led to this blog post. The professor asked us to complete a writing prompt on a subject of our choice, to which I chose "Food Choices for Children and How It Affects Their Behavior."

Any nutritionist will tell you that good food choices are essential to maintaining a healthy body. Children need good nutrition. Often, the only balanced nutrition they receive is through the school lunch program. Nutritionists work directly with the schools in order to balance the menu so that the students are getting the optimal nutrients for their age group. Even the White House is getting involved when it comes to providing adequate nutrition education to children. Where this process breaks down is when the children are at home. Many low income families receive food stamps, welfare, or other types of government assistance in order to keep a roof over their heads. These programs provide just enough for families to squeak by, but their food choices are limited to what they can afford.

Coming on the summer season, a lot of schools will begin offering summer nutrition programs for children under 18 years of age. They can come to the school and eat breakfast and lunch for free, or the food is delivered to sites that are set up for distribution. For many parents, this program alleviates some of the stress that is placed on them to provide for their children while still allowing the children to receive the nutrition they need.

How do food choices become a behavior issue? Well many of the foods that have low nutritional value like cereals, pasta, cookies, chips, and canned goods are usually lower in price than healthier choices like meats, vegetables, and fruits. Due to the tighter budget from being on assistance, parents will often stock up on the more inexpensive items listed above rather than ones that can provide adequate nutrition. It doesn't help that a lot of the poor nutritional foods tend to market to children by way of cartoon characters, added sugar, and the promise of a toy "prize". A fair amount of children are on medication to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), but no one stops to consider what these children are eating on a regular basis that may contribute to their hyperactivity. Sugar is not always bad, but should be consumed in moderation. When children consume too much of something, they will experience a rush, which can promote poor behavior choices.

Every day on the bus, I see children climb the steps with all sorts of junk in their hands such as sodas, candy, chips, sweetened snack cakes, or cinnamon buns. It's no wonder that later in the day or further on in the ride on the bus, these children become more active and can act out inappropriately. Sugar can have affect the body in many different ways. The behavior is also linked to certain food dyes which is found in many foods. Food will have hidden sources of sugar too, which again leads to behavior displays.

What can we do? Educate! Educate! Educate!

Offering free classes for parents on a budget will help these parents make better food choices when shopping, and hopefully in turn will help them teach their children positive nutrition. Medication can only go so far in helping children. Proper nutrition is key.

An Apple A Day,

The Bus Driver

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Answering Questions - Assigned Seat Issue.

AJ wrote:

Hi well I'm ticked off right now because I'm a 13 year old who got switched seats because this little girl's parent said a girl my age said shut up to her. Their is not even a 13 year old girl on the bus! So now I have to sit next to a second grade boy who will not shut up and keeps punching me. In my old seat I sat next to my good friend kayden who is my age. So I would love to know why bus drivers do this stuff aimed at teens

AJ -

Sometimes bus drivers have to swap some seats around just to change things up, or accommodate a situation that you are unaware of. There may be a bullying situation on the bus that we are trying to put a stop to, or prevent, by having a few kids move around.

Today, I had to move a few children around because they would not keep their hands to themselves. I let both children off with a warning not to do it again.

You mentioned that the new boy you are sitting with hits you. Let the bus driver know this and ask for a change of seat. If you are polite and ask respectfully and the bus driver can accommodate you, you will be able to move seats. Sometimes we do have to be strict though and follow through with current assigned seats. If the second grade boy does not stop hitting you, AND the bus driver does not do anything about it (either moving the boy or you to a separate seat) then I would go to your parents and ask them for help in the situation.

We don't target teens specifically, and I'm sorry you feel targeted. Ask your bus driver what you can do to be able to go back to where you were sitting before. The bus driver may be looking for good behavior and just making sure that the language on the bus is not offensive.

Hope this helps AJ!

The Bus Driver