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Parent guide: going on public transport

Travelling on public transport is often an exciting experience for young children! Rather than a chore, think of all the amazing new things your little one will encounter – automatic doors, buttons, tickets and all different people.

Leaving the car at home isn’t just better for the environment but also a great opportunity to bond with your child and for them to learn and develop their skills.

So first, let’s have a look at the developmental benefits of taking public transport with your little one!

Social skills

Your child is likely to have lots of questions and comments about using public transport, especially the first time. This is a good opportunity for new discussions, helping your little one develop their social skills.

You can also encourage them to show their ticket to the inspector or say hello to the bus driver.

Literacy and maths

Make the most of all the signs you see during your journey.

You can look at the timetable together, the platform numbers, street names, billboards and more to help your little one develop both literacy and maths skills.

Vocabulary development

Be sure to talk to your little one on your journey, it’ll give you a chance to introduce them to so many new words like ‘aisle’, ‘conductor’ and more!

Try to get a window seat and discuss what you see as you travel.

Understanding the world

Having new experiences builds up your little one's knowledge about the world around them.

This will give them the ability to link their experience of playing with a toy train at nursery, for instance, making these activities richer.

Before you make your first trip, however, it’s important to consider the practicalities.

· Avoid taking your journey during rush hour or your little one’s nap time. Also, be sure to take water and snacks for the journey.

· Plan your journey - download the app to know the train/bus times. Be sure you know stations with step-free access and lifts, especially if you’re taking a pram.

· Check for toilets – large stations may have toilets but be sure to google public ones or invest in a travel potty for emergencies.

· Define expectations - discuss with your little one how they should behave on public transport. For example, standing away from the edge of the station platform, holding hands in busy areas, and staying seated on the bus.

· Talk to them - tell your child about the journey beforehand, where you’re going, how you’re getting there, what they can expect etc. you can also show them YouTube clips of train or bus travel or read a book together. This will help ease their anxiety on the day.

· Try to stay calm and ask for help if you need it. Most people will be happy to accommodate for children so if you need an extra seat or space for a buggy just ask.

So, you’ve been on public transport with your little one… did you know you can continue their learning journey after the trip!

Here are some ways to do this:

· Take photos of your time on the bus or train to look through and discuss later.

· Role-play the events together. You don’t need props or toys for fun role-play, just a line of chairs for the train or bus and a plastic plate can work as a steering wheel.

· Help them practice their writing skills by making tickets or route maps together.

· Consider taking more journeys on public transport or build on the interest by going to transport museums, on boats, cable cars etc.

Additional resources


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