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I have learned of kids with crazy long commutes in their school bus for public schools. I'm surprised of having such longs commutes (1 hour) for a 4-to-5 year old starting kindergarten.

I understand that sometimes a long commute might be the only option to get a child to school, but I think that a long commute, along with an early starting time, could be counterproductive in the academic performance of kids, and much worse in kindergartners, who might be having their first school experience ever.

In the state of Massachusetts (USA) a child can only be on the bus for an hour, but authorities can decide than an even longer bus ride is OK if needed.

I guess that that is the rule for all children, but obviously is going to affect some more than others.

Is there any research or documentation about when the length of a commute can be recognized as not acceptable for a kindergartner? (in the sense of, "longer than this is counterproductive for the child to have a productive school day and can cause mood issues, attention or performance problems or the like, and should be avoided if possible").


While it may not directly answer the question I would really appreciate additional information (via comment maybe) about similar regulations in different States (do all states thin that one hour is the longest a child should be on the bus?), or even different parts of the world. That could help comparing specific rules and understand what is adequate for a kindergartner (4 to 5 years) and what is not.

  • The answer to this will vary based on local laws and regulations, however, I agree with you. An hour (each way) is too long for a child of this age to be on a school bus. – elbrant Mar 20 at 3:28
  • @elbrant You are right, but what the regulation says and why it says so might not be backed up with relevant data, or might depend on very specific situations. Maybe having a kid in a 2 hour commute is the only way of schooling that child in a certain part of the world (unfortunately). I'm trying to figure out if there's research that says "Avoid more that x commute time if possible, because the child is not going to perform well" – Diego Mar 21 at 15:58
  • I'm curious about the ultimate goal here. Are you tryinjg to get your child into a school closer to home? Concerned about safety? Anticipating scheduling conflicts? – elbrant Mar 21 at 16:10
  • I'm trying to understand if there is any rationale (beyond traffic or logistics) for these regulations, and how close the legal limits are to those provided or suggested by research (if any). Anticipation and mitigation of problems is something I'll do once we get some more answers (and depending on what we learn I might need to spin off new questions for, i don't know, how to prepare a child for a long bus ride or how to deal with XYZ". Safety (traffic) is not a concern. Scheduling either. Children well being is the mayor one behind this question. – Diego Mar 21 at 16:50
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Geography has a lot to do with it - rural areas require longer commutes. Children in West Texas have 100+ mile commutes to school and so do many other children across the US.

You cite Massachusetts as an example, but it is a very small and densely populated state compared to New Mexico for example.

South Carolina has 3 hour round trips for many students (link).

While I agree with the sentiment of feeling an hour commute is too long, the privilege of an education (and transportation) for the children of this country is a great one. Many go through much more for much less elsewhere in the world.

  • I agree with you. If 3 hour round trips are the only way, you bite the bullet. My question, as I clarify in the questions and comments, is if there's research that say "If a commute is longer that x time, it is going to start to affect the child's performance, mood, attention, etc.". What you do with that info is a different matter, depending on circumstances. Obviously not schooling those kids would be worse, but, if you commute is too long for other reasons you might want to try to accommodate or try to mitigate the "side effects" of that commute. – Diego Mar 21 at 16:08

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