Training For School Bus Independence By Backward Chaining

With A Backward Glance (Maybe)

Next year is 5th grade at a new (bigger, faster-paced) intermediate school.

So, we are building into our ARD (Admission, Review, Dismissal)

that he is riding the big kid bus.

We are practicing now, and here are some photos of how that looks.

It’s called Backward Chaining by occupational therapists, and Backward Design by educators.

You start with the last step and practice until your child masters it.

And then you add the previous step and include it to the process.

Keep this up, each time adding the previous step to the entire flow.

Soon, you will be at the beginning step and your child can do it all.

So, back to the bus independence:  Mom does less and less.  John does more and more.

Some days, when John is lollygagging, I have laid his stuff on the ground and walked away.

Toward school.  With neighbors and friends watching me.

I smile and wait out of sight.

Until John catches up.

I fade my prompt at every opportunity.

Once he gets ahead of me, I stay out of eye-sight as he rides on to school.

As our days of training have progressed,

sometimes he looks back,

sometimes not.

Twice now he has caught me peeking after him.

He was laughing and so was I at Mom busted.

Once he is at school, I do follow the sidewalk to the end, and wave at the crossing guard.

Don’t want the school thinking I am irresponsible : )

He eventually went by himself:  from the car, through the crossing guard, into school.

So try backward chaining (where we start with mastery of the last thing,

working our way backward toward mastery of the first thing),

fade from helping at each step after getting out the front door.

Also, I have been told to get John an assigned seat on the bus in the front row(s).

As he is able to master the sensory environment,

the new everything of the school,

and learn what to absorb (and what to NOT absorb) of the bus behaviors of peers,

then we can move toward a longer tether.

For now, one step at a time.

Backward chaining toward independence

and handling natural consequences of life.

Maybe this will be useful in your child’s life forward.

Peace be with us,



I am a mom of learning differences, an educator and a former corporate warrior. I help you understand what to do to help your children with learning differences prepare for today so that they can be ready for life. I share with you all that I have learned. We always use a team to have fun and learn together.

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