Monday, September 6, 2021

To travel train or not to travel train?


At first the council were unwilling to provide transport to and from school so tiger mum came into action and after a stroppy email a taxi was miraculously provided.  To save the few remnants of my sanity Heidi joined the after school homework club 3 afternoons a week and the taxi was provided for that.

At about year 9 I suggested to school that she should be travel trained to and from school by bus.  The travel trainer visited us to get to know Heidi and explain to me how training would work.  We are lucky that the bus stop is right outside the house, but the trainer taught Heidi how to keep a look out for landmarks so she knew that she was nearly at school or home.  The trainer also taught Heidi how to show her bus pass, how to behave on the bus and showing the safest (though not nearest) bus stop for return journey.  Heidi loved this independence but even after being signed off it didn’t stop me peeking from behind hedges to make sure she was safe!

I know of others who have tried travel training and may not pass to travel alone but have been passed to travel with a buddy; this is still great independence.  The young person can travel with the buddy to places that they want to go to rather than just where mum/dad want to take them.

I have heard parents’ concerns about “stranger danger” incidents on buses and independent travelling – these are incredibly rare and teaching Heidi how to deal with them seemed safer to me than shielding her completely and not allowing her to enjoy some freedom, like her siblings and her friends.

(Though apologies to the lady who kindly told Heidi that her skirt was caught up at the back and she was showing her knickers to the world.  Heidi retorted with a loud “I don’t know you.” The lady explained that she knew me and that she was only trying to help.  Heidi sorted her skirt out and continued on her way but was not convinced that the lady was only helping!)

A repeated fear that I hear is that our youngsters could find themselves stranded without any idea how to get home.  Allowing them to travel train (to their ability) means that they would at least know the basics if they were stranded.  It might mean that you follow them at a distance a few times to allay your fears but let them try it – they will probably surprise you.

I have never had to rescue Heidi from the opposite side of the city, because she got on the number 10 to Longford rather than the number 10 to Canley – hang your heads in shame older brothers!



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