At what age do you think it is okay for a child to walk to school by themselves?

Jenn - posted on 11/13/2011 ( 54 moms have responded )

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Apologise ahead for longish post:) I have a five year old son (He just turned five yesterday and is in kindergarten) whom I walk to and from school daily. Along the way i have noticed a few other kindergartners walking to school alone or in groups of two or three. Although i am confident my son could get there by himself as far as finding his way, the thing that worries me is he would have to cross a crosswalk (without a guard, just the button you push and shows the walk/don't walk sign) on a very busy road. It is only down my street, across the crosswalk and then straight up another street to the school, but the street the kids walk up is the really busy one. Yes there are sidewalks but kids tend to horse around and stuff so it makes me nervous. I noticed there is a group of three that the mom walks across the crosswalk and then allows them to walk the rest of the way themselves straight up that one street, and they all hold on to each others backpacks like a chain. I thought it was actually a pretty good way to get them started walking alone but wasnt sure if i felt they were too young as obviously i don't know the type of children they are. I am not sure how i feel about it as i do see them dawdle and horse around sometimes and makes me a little anxious. However i have no issue with her for doing this as i don't know her situation, and I do want my son to be able to walk to school himself in the next couple years. Back in the day kids walked to school all the time from kindergarten up and it wasnt an issue, but now days with all the stranger danger and such people tend to trip out when young kids walk alone. I am not concerned with stranger danger or my son getting lost, it is the traffic that is my main concern. Anyways, my question is at what age would you/will you begin allowing your child to walk to school alone (or with friends)? I pride myself on being a pretty relaxed and "free-range" parent and i have a lot of confidence and trust in my sons abilities, he rides dirtbikes, skateboards, goes hunting with daddy with his own pellet gun, plays outside without me, etc but this is one thing i am not quite ready for yet. So what age do you think is ok? Why or why not? What age did your children start walking alone at?

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♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 11/23/2011

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I don't understand one thing, and that is this:

Why is it, when a parent asks for OPINIONS, and people post said OPINIONS, someone, or several someones always feel the need to call another poster out for their opinion?

Case in point: Sylvia allows her daughter to walk to school, has stated her reasons, etc, but Patricia feels that Sylvia is in the wrong. Why is that, ladies? An opinion is an opinion, and guess what, everyone has a different one! This forum is becoming less and less enjoyable with each day that passes, because instead of being the supportive CIRCLE that we are supposed to be, a number of members seem to feel that their opinion, and only their opinion matters.

Please, let's try to be a supportive community, and not bashing on each other for individual parenting style or opinions.

Personally, I tend to fall on Sylvia's side of the line. By being paranoid, and over protective, our kids aren't gaining anything. But, by careful supervision, and age appropriate decisions, our kids will go far. That being said, if the school is close enough, and you've gone over the route with your child, and feel they are responsible enough at 5 to walk alone, then the appropriate age for you is 5. If your kid doesn't pay attention, or doesn't seem ready until they are 10, then the appropriate age is 10.

Simple enough. Each situation differs, each neighborhood differs, and so does each parent. The best we can do is offer opinions, and realize that not everyone is going to agree.

My kids have never lived "close" enough to walk, but that doesn't stop them from heading out the 5 miles to school anyway. Granted, they are middle and high school ages. They wouldn't have even tried at a younger age. I started at age 5, myself.

Danielle - posted on 11/27/2011

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I understand debbie I'd rather be safe than sorry too thats why I still walk my 10 and 7yr olds to school. The world is a wicked place. My children know how and where the school is but I just don't feel that it is safe.

Jaime - posted on 11/25/2011

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i think five years old is wayyyyyy too young to walk to school on their own.....i've seen little kids ball go into the street and they just run into the street b/c at that age they are not thinking 3 steps ahead..they are just thinking "oh wait i have to get my ball" i dont care how "responsible" people say their 5 year old is....a five year old is a five year old..they cannot physically protect themselves is a stranger approached them...granted a 10 yr old isnt stronger than an adult but at least they have a little more physical capability....and it doesnt matter if you live in a close knit community...look at that little jewish boy who got kidnapped in that close orthodox jew. community.....i started walking to school alone when i was about 10 years old

Kelley - posted on 09/16/2012

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I have a 9 yo daugterms who in fourth grade. We only live a 5 minute walk to school. But we still do lick her up and drop her off. For her to walk alone she would have to walk across a main street which is again top of my street. So I could walk her to correct er push buTrinity for her t pop cross and then she would walk straight whole way til she at school only one other small side street she have to cross. Even though it will be very simple for her to walk to school alone. I still drive her everyday. I am very nervous about her walking alone, even though she has a cell too. That's just me. I think 12 is a good age to walk alone. But at my daughters age if she had a buddy to walk with I would let her walk. But her walking alone scares me. Just my opinion.

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Heidi - posted on 12/11/2011

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i think it depends on the child. Some children mature much faster than others and take responsiblity much better. My oldest is 11. She is very mature but my 9 year old has a long way to go. I still make both ride the bus because of my scheduling and I truly don't want to put that type responsibly on her yet because I know that my youngest will

Sarah - posted on 12/07/2011

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I also have a kidnergardner and She rides the bus with her 8 year old brother and I make them sit together. My school is 5 min. away so I will not let them walk alone until they are 12 and only in groups!

Eunice - posted on 12/06/2011

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I live in the Uk & my son didn't walk on his own until he was 10yrs old, which is pretty much the norm here. he was at least 6yrs old before he could play on the front & then I checked on him all the time.

Danielle - posted on 12/01/2011

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My son is in 4th grade and he's not allowed to walk to the bus stop by himself. (That's a whole other story though.) I drive him to and from the bus stop every day. It's about 4 blocks from my house.

Afza - posted on 11/29/2011

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Hi Jean I agree with u on all the dangers of strangers. however as u stated you dont know the situation of the other parent i stil fine that a kindergarten age is way to young to be on the road unsupervised even if is a short distance . As a mother of 2, 13yrs and 10yrs i stil wont let them walk by themselves

Michelle - posted on 11/28/2011

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kindergarten is way to young i have an 8 yr old daughter and she doesnt walk alone,occasionally i allow her to walk home with frnds and there older brother who is 11,5 yr olds dont have the common sense yet...

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 11/28/2011

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Directly replying to Karen Blowers: 38
"Karen Blowers - posted 4 days ago
Let's nots tell each other what to do????? Why post on here if you don't want to hear other people's opinions after all we all have one!!!"
The difference, Karen is that some are offering opinions, and others are demanding or telling all of us that we should all behave the same way, and do the same things in regards to parenting our children. That steps out of the realm of opinion, and into domination.
Yes, we are asking for opinions. We are not asking to be told that we are doing something wrong, or that we are a horrible parent for the decisions that we have made for our children.

Diane - posted on 11/28/2011

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I would ALWAYS walk him to school for two reasons: the most important reason is "stranger danger"(some nut can take your child in the blink of an eye, never to be seen again) and second, because of the intersection with no crossing guard. He is 5 years old, he has a 5 year old brain, he does not know or see the dangers of strangers or traffic. That's why God made Mom's & Dad's, to guide, teach and protect the amazing gift we have been given in our children. Don't ever be swayed to do what others do; it's not about not trusting your child, he's 5; it's about the hidden dangers and that busy street.

Ann - posted on 11/28/2011

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depends on your child but i didn't let mine walk by himself until third grade, nine years old. We only live three blocks from the school but too many weird people now days you have to be carefull.

Deb - posted on 11/28/2011

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With my four older kids I didn't have a problem with them walking to school on their own. But that was in the 80's and early 90's. When the younger ones came along I didn't feel comfortable with them walking to and from school on their own. So I took them and picked them up. On nice days we walked. Even good neighborhoods can have their predators. WE didn't have to worry about it for to long though as we bought a house in the country and they ride the bus now and three are in HS and in middle school.

Cheryl - posted on 11/27/2011

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Even depending on the neighbourhood that you live in, its just not safe anymore. Never for a 5 yr old!! What are those parents thinking??? Ensure that they get to school safely and get home safely, no matter what is my idea. My kids did walk three blocks to school when they were much, much older, like in Grade 4 or 5 and they're all fine.

Debbi - posted on 11/27/2011

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My eldest is 11 and walks home from school but I still walk halfway to fetch him, I am not worried that he cannot do it, he can perfectly well i am more worried about people that are out and about and I would far rather be safe than sorry!

Danielle - posted on 11/27/2011

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My son is 10yrs old and I still walk him to school, even though he wants to go by himself. I am very afraid to let him go alone so as long as I have to walk my daughter who is 7yrs old I'll be walking them both. I guess different strokes for different folks because I don't trust the ppl on the streets that will be walking with them. I feel better knowing that I can see them actually walk into school safely and get home safe. But I'm in New York so I'm worried.

Amy - posted on 11/27/2011

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I sincerely feel this depends on the child. My daughter is 10 years old and she is not comfortable walking to her bus stop each morning. So I walk with her, and I wait at her stop after school. We are about 2 blocks from her stop and over 3 miles from school. Would I have let her walk to school as a 5 year old, no, but that is MY choice, as her parent. We should not be here to criticize other parents who are just looking for assistance. In my humble opinion, if a parent is comfortable letting their 5 year old walk to school alone or in a group, let them be, unless you see something dangerous happening. Maybe it is time the school is contacted to have a crossing guard at all main intersections within say 1 mile from the school.

Evelyn - posted on 11/27/2011

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In my opinion, 5 yrs old is WAY to young to let walk to school on their own. If you're able to take you child to and from school, then you should do it. I have 3 children, who are a little older now, ages 15, 12 & 9 but I have NEVER let them walk home from school ever, even when I worked a full time job. I currently live in Las Vegas and lately there has been so many accidents involving pedestrians/kids. Either the pedestrian is not paying attention or the driver is not paying attention. I am a stay at home mom now and able to pick up & drop off my kids and will do it for as long as I can. It's not that I dont trust my kids, its that I don't trust ANYONE, these crazy drivers or any adult person walking close to them. I am NOT willing to risk my son & 2 daughters safety or their life. I do not want them to be the next tragic story on the news. This is only MY opinion, in the end its up to you to decide what is best for your child.

Teresa - posted on 11/25/2011

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Just the fact that you start off saying he's five I already know MY answer. NOPE! My peace of mind knowing he got there is much more important than ANY lesson I know he will learn later in life. He'll learn how to be independant but NOTY now. He is too young to have to distinguish right and wrong from a sneaky, adult with bad intents with your child. That is why your child has you.Beleive me. your child will not be 15 wanting a walk to school but until then your child needs you for protection and there's a healthy reason why you still feel that wway. My son is 7 and has spaghetti arms, but more importantly, he has a 7 year old mind. Not a groen up mind that knows complete right and wrong. That's why God gave hiom to me, to protect and hseild from the evils that cn get to him if he is alone.

Sylvia - posted on 11/24/2011

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Ange, you have every right to make the decisions you feel are appropriate for your child. I would never argue with that.

It's just that I like to have as many facts as possible when I assess risk, so that I can know that my risk assessment is based on evidence as far as possible, and isn't completely reliant on my gut feelings about how dangerous the big bad world is for my precious child. Because I know my gut feelings are based on a lot of stuff that isn't actual evidence, like every news report about a missing or dead child that I've ever seen, and every episode of Law & Order: SVU I've ever watched, and all that sort of stuff. Your head knows that stories make the news because they're unusual and attention-catching, and that Law & Order isn't real, but your gut just throws it all together and goes "DANGER! DANGER!"

And I always figure that other parents also want to base their risk-assessment decisions on facts and evidence, so I try to share facts and evidence when I have the opportunity. I don't expect to change everyone's mind, but I do like to make people think :)

Ange - posted on 11/24/2011

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See Sylvia I have few reasons for not letting my 7 year old walk to school alone first of she is not responsible enough for the long walk to the school even with other kids from our street, second off we do not live just a block away we live several blocks away so the fear of other people coming and picking up is very near my heart sorry you say there is nothing to be afraid of but what if I took that chance and bang there she is gone.... then I am left with out my daughter.....

But hey that doesn't mean that other people shouldn't do it and I would not call childrens aid on them for their decision.... but to say we are unfair because of our fear of stranger danger is completely not right of you to say the number may be the same but that does not mean I would like to have my child part of that number there are reasons that number has not changed in such along time and that is because we are more careful with our children and we caution them alot more.....

and like someone stated it before "we are aloud to state an opinion" this Circle of Friends was supposed to be fun to meet new people and I have to say it has not been that much was in the begining get some help and what not

Sylvia - posted on 11/24/2011

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Let's not threaten to call Children's Aid on other parents who are making perfectly sensible parenting choices, please.

And can we please stop doing one other thing, too? Let's stop fearmongering. There is NO EVIDENCE that it is any more dangerous for a 5-year-old to walk to school now than it was when we were 5 years old and lots of kids walked to school. NO EVIDENCE. The number of kids randomly snatched by strangers while walking around minding their business is about 115 per year in the US, and that number -- which is VERY LOW -- basically hasn't changed in decades. If your concern is that your kid would have to cross a super busy street, or that your neighbourhood is renowned for high traffic fatalities, or that the school driveway is a deathtrap because other kids' parents don't pay attention to pedestrians, fair enough. If, knowing your own kid, you have a reasonable expectation that s/he is not yet mature enough for the responsibility of taking him/herself to and from school, fair enough -- you know your kid! But if your concern is that the world has gotten SO MUCH MORE DANGEROUS than it was when you were a kid, you need to know that this is simply not true. Fear has increased; danger hasn't.

I would likely not have let my DD walk to/from school alone at 5, even if that had been an option. It's a long walk (2km) and she was a bit flaky at 5 -- also very short, and thus hard for motorists to see. But now she's 9, more mature and responsible, taller, smarter, more ready. Somebody else's child might be ready at 5 where mine wasn't; a third person's child might not be ready at 9 where mine was. Let's save ringing Children's Aid for the kids who come to school with bruises or have no winter coats or otherwise show genuine signs of abuse and/or neglect. Letting one's child walk to school as generations of kids have walked before isn't bad parenting.

Ange - posted on 11/24/2011

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state you opinion yes but hey we don't need to threaten people about calling and reporting them to the authorities every child is different maybe her 5 year old is ready to walk to the school alone like she says she doesn't live that far from the school and she is walking him to the cross walk then he is on his own....

Karen - posted on 11/24/2011

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Let's nots tell each other what to do????? Why post on here if you don't want to hear other people's opinions after all we all have one!!!

Karen - posted on 11/24/2011

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My child was 10 but a very responsible child I think it depends on the individual, 5 yrs of age is way too young in my opinion it's an utter discrase this day and age to let a child of that age out alone never mind walking to school. The parents need reporting to the authorities.

Ange - posted on 11/23/2011

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I never said that you were wrong in your decision I am just saying I personally couldn't do it to a fear of stranger danger we live close enough to the school where she can't get on the bus but not so close that I can sit and watch from my kitchen window we are not a block away we are several and she is 7 years old and should alot more responsible but she is not so she gets walked or driven be me until she is responsible... I am glad that you are able to do that let your 5 year old walk to school along and all the best to that and I hope it works out... I am sorry that my last post seem to be putting you down but I was not just stating that I couldn't do it and I do give you credit to being able too now if I lived closer to the school then i would seriously think about it she wants to walk by herself but I don't feel she is truly ready for

Jakki - posted on 11/23/2011

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My 11 year old daughter has recently started bringing my 6 year old daughter home from school once a week when I am at work (5 minutes walk). They make themselves afternoon tea and then walk off to a tutor to do their homework with her (7 minutes walk away). I'm so pleased that they are independently doing this. They really enjoy it too. Meanwhile my 9 year old boy goes to after school care because I wouldn't trust him in the mix with his sisters (eg they'd start fighting).

This debate comes up regularly on Circle of Mums and I always notice how people get so worked up about it - can we please all remember that we don't know where each other lives and we don't know each other's kids. Some of us live in violent dangerous neighbourhoods while other live in pockets of paradise on earth.

Let's not tell each other what to do!

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 11/23/2011

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Thank you, ladies! Sorry for my mini-rant...I just get so tired of bickering...LOL...I deal with enough of that with my kids!

I will add this. In this day and age, we really should be encouraging more physical activity and less vehicle use. In our area, it's difficult, with weather and all. If I could ride my bike to work daily, I would! But, we just found out that they are building a new HS here (necessary for expanding student body), and it's going to be nowhere near where anyone could feasibly walk or bike! Doesn't make sense to me at all.

And, I will add this: I too was a paranoid parent, right up until my oldest was 6 and they sent him home on a bus to an empty house. He didn't even know where the bus stop in our neighborhood was, because he caught the daycare shuttle to school in the mornings...but he made it home just fine, and was just fine when I "found" him after an hour of being in a total panic because I didn't know where my kid was! (He didn't think to have a neighbor call us at work...he was only 6). Right then, I knew that I'd instilled good skills, and I backed off.

But, not everyone is in the same situation. Would I let my kid walk to school in say...NYC? Probably not! LOL...but that's why I live in a more rural area. :-)

It's all about comfort zone, really.

Everyone have a good holiday (if you celebrate it)

And if you don't celebrate Thanksgiving, or aren't in the US, have a great weekend!

Sylvia - posted on 11/23/2011

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Thanks, Shawnn :)

I should add -- I absolutely respect every parent's right and duty to decide what they're comfortable with in relation to their kids' safety and level of independence. If Sherri or Patricia or Ange makes a different decision from me as to when their kids are ready to get to/from school on their own, who am I to say they're wrong? I don't know them or their kids, just like they don't know mine.

It's just ... so often these decisions seem to be coming from a place of fear and the fear just isn't warranted. I'm not dissing anyone's parenting decisions here, but I do feel it's important for us all to base those decisions on real information.

[deleted account]

Very good points, Shawnn. Maybe where 'you' (general you) live you would not be ok w/ a K kid walking to/from school, but where you live is not where some other people live. Many of the kids here that live close enough to their school walk or bike to/from school every day. The schools, police, heck the whole COUNTY encourages it. ;)

Sylvia - posted on 11/23/2011

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OK, so let's talk about "stranger danger". Here's what the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has to say about this concept: http://www.missingkids.com/missingkids/s...

The concluding paragraph reads,

"NCMEC believes it is time for everyone to retire use of the “stranger-danger” message. By realizing child safety is much more than a slogan, we can then arm our children with relevant, age-appropriate messages to help empower and protect them from potentially dangerous situations. Having strong parental, guardian, and caregiver supervision and attention is vital to keeping our children safer."

Ange - posted on 11/23/2011

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my daughter is now 7 years old and her school is down the street like 5 blocks away so there are only side streets that she would have to cross off the main street and I have not let her walk to school alone or with friends I will always go get her from school simply because I am to afraid of the stranger danger I would be absolutely defistated if something were to ever happen to her so no I could not let her do so not until she is alot more responsible and knows alot better then she does now....

Sylvia - posted on 11/23/2011

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Patricia, OK, why?

I would not let her do it if she had to walk on streets with no sidewalks, if she had to travel in the dark, if she were not familiar with the route, if she were genuinely worried or afraid, if she had to cross a busy street or a dangerous uncontrolled intersection. But there are sidewalks, she's always home before four in the afternoon, she travelled the same route with me every afternoon for four years before ever doing it on her own, she's competent and confident and eager to take on this responsibility, and the only street she has to cross is (a) not busy and (b) has a traffic light *and* a crossing guard. There are at least 4 elementary/middle schools in our neighbourhood, and all of them have kids who walk, including many younger than DD who walk with older siblings.

Some kids would not be ready in Grade 4. Mine is ready.

How old were you when you started walking to school without a parent? At my elementary school, kids as young as Grade 1 routinely got themselves to and from school without an adult, and nobody thought that was dangerous...

Dara - posted on 11/22/2011

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I have a 6 year old. When she was in kindergarten last year, I walked with her or drove her every day, because I was not comfortable with her doing it without me. I too worry about traffic, and any number of other things that could happen between my door and the school. It's my thought that if you can minimize risks, you should. That being said, we moved this summer and now live on the same street as the school. She is now in grade one, and I let her walk on her own. I watch her from the door though, to make sure she crosses the street safely, and I watch for her when I know the bell is going to ring. If I didn't live so close, I'd probably still walk her. I did for the first month of school still this year, until I was sure she was safe on the one road she had to cross and she knew the routine and where to go. I would do what you feel is comfortable. Personally, I think kindergarten is too young.

Sylvia - posted on 11/22/2011

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Betty, what exactly is it you think is going to happen to your daughter while she's walking to school? You seem like you're doing a lot of stressful and probably unnecessary worrying, and I find it kind of baffling o_O (BTW my Grade 4 daughter has been taking herself home from school on her own since September of this year, no cellphone -- I don't have one either -- and she's been absolutely fine, and very proud of herself for being so responsible. Though she may not enjoy it so much once the weather gets icky LOL.)

Betty - posted on 11/22/2011

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Oh and also, she has rode her bike like twice! lol I wouldn't even know till it was time for her to get home if she ever made it to school. (sayin if she didn't have a cell phone).

Betty - posted on 11/22/2011

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OMG In KINDERGARDEN?! Um nooooooo way!!!!!! My daughter is in fifth grade and I can see her school from my BACK DOOR and the only way she goes alone is if she is riding her bike and guess what? I make her take her cell phone and keep it turned ON to me on the house phone listening while it's in her pocket or whatever till she is there, bike is locked and she is walking inside! Lol A Kindergardener should NOT be left to alone to walk like that SPECIALLY anywhere NEAR a street! No offence but that makes me sick even thinking of that!

Amanda - posted on 11/21/2011

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We live in a very rural area, and my boys only have to cross one street, although it is Main St. there is a crossing guard, and a four-way stop so cars are pretty cautious anyways. The school is 1 and a half blocks away, so about a 5 min walk. I just started letting them walk to school, youngest is in the 3rd grade, and the oldest is in the 5th grade which is in the middle school, this school is also only a block and a half away in the other direction! So this is how I based my decision. I do consider myself pretty free-range, but walking them so late into their lives, was due to their, and mine enjoyment, plus it was a chance for extra exercise for me, which up until now they were both fine with! My youngest asked this year to walk alone, and since my oldest had to walk in the other direction, I thought I'd give it a try, they are both doing great at it, so I think it all depends, but go with your gut, Mom!

[deleted account]

It depends on a variety of factors.... the kid, the location of the school, your area, etc.... My girls have never and will never walk to school, but... their school is a 15 minute drive. ;) And it will only be further next year when they are in middle school.

If we don't move and my son goes to the school by our house... I will have no problem w/ him walking himself in K... if HE is comfortable w/ it. Of course, we live directly across a very dead street from the school AND there is a crossing guard for it. ;)

Michelle - posted on 11/16/2011

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My daughter has started asking when she'll be old enough to walk by herself. I would let her walk before jr. high but I haven't felt she's ready yet because she doesn't pay attention to the world around her. She's started showing more attention so if this keeps improving she might be ready next year or year after (grade 5/6). Especially if it is walking in a group (there are a lot of kids on our block that attend the same school). I was walking to school in a group by 3rd grade and we only live 2 blocks from the school.

Sylvia - posted on 11/16/2011

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@Bonnie, your husband must walk really fast :) I walk 1.7km every morning on my way to work and it takes me 20 minutes. (There's a hill. Maybe that's my problem...)

Helen - posted on 11/16/2011

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At my sons school (Australia) he has to be dropped off and picked up by an adult at the classroom door! So we wouldnt be able to let him walk by himself! We live out of town so he catches the bus to school and then the prefects walk the children aged from kindy to year 2 to their classrooms! Very well organised!

Sherri - posted on 11/15/2011

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Hell no I would never allow my child to ever walk to school before at least middle school which is 7th grade here. Although it isn't allowed by the school district either they have to be bussed, driven or picked up and signed out of school by a parent until 7th grade.

It also isn't an issue for us since we live too far away from the school for my kids to ever walk.

Lynn - posted on 11/15/2011

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I drive my kids to school, since it's about a 15 min drive, and way too far to walk. (It's a better school than the neighborhood one.) There are two neighbor girls who are 9 and 10 and they walk to the local school by themselves sometimes. One has a younger sister in Kindergarten, and she walks with them. Sometimes, they ride bikes, scooters or roller blade. I know the younger girl would not be walking if she was alone. They do have to cross a fairly busy residential street, and since both moms are home, I think they only allow it because the girls want to. Personally, I would walk or drive them at least across that street, and let them walk the rest of the way.
I think that if you're not sure, it's better to be on the side of safety, and walk your child for a couple more years. I wouldn't allow my kids on a school bus, either. (not an option for our school, anyway.) I would worry too much that they might get off on the wrong stop, bullied on the bus, miss the bus or something. My kids are ten and seven, and I will do everything I can to keep them safe, so they'll be riding with me for a long time!
Good for you for doing the right thing, and it's too bad the parents of those other kids aren't taking a more active role in making sure their little ones get to school safely.

Bonnie - posted on 11/15/2011

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@Sylvia, I never said it takes my child 15 minutes to walk to school. I said I drive him to and from school. Although, the walk is about 15 minutes (approx. 3 kms). I have never done the walk to school with him, but I can tell my my husband has a couple of times and it took them about 15-20 minutes.

Audrea - posted on 11/14/2011

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I am also a mother of a child in kindergarten. He is 5. We only live 3 or so blocks from his school but now sure I would let him walk all by himself. Growing up, I didn't start walking to school until I was in the junior high. About 12 or so. I think that is a good age to start learning responsibility. But it has other factors as well. The maturity of the child, the neighborhood, and traffic.

Sylvia - posted on 11/14/2011

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@Bonnie, if your 5-year-old can walk 3km in 15 minutes I'm really impressed! DD's school is about 2km from our front door, and it takes us at least 20 minutes to walk, when we walk (we usually walk down the block and then get on a bus, so it's about a 10-minute trip in total).

Sylvia - posted on 11/14/2011

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It depends on (a) the child, (b) the route to school, and (c) other circumstances. Some kids are more mature and responsible than others. Different families live closer to or farther from the schools where their kids go. And not everyone has the luxury of being able to make the choice based only on (a) and (b).

For instance, if DH and I didn't both work full-time, DD (who is 9) would have been walking before now. But we do work, and she's gone to before/after care since SK, and the child care centre's policy is that kids must be not just picked up but also dropped off by a parent or other authorized adult (I don't really get this: I understand why they need to be careful about who picks kids up, because of nefarious non-custodial parents and whatnot, but what exactly is the danger of a nefarious person dropping the kid off? o_O) ... which means she can't walk to school until she can reliably *not* sleep through her alarm in the morning :P So for now, I'm taking her to school -- on foot or on the bus; I'm not one of those drive-the-kid-

Bonnie - posted on 11/14/2011

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I also have a child in kindergarten. I drive him to and from school. We don't live that close to the school. It is about a 15 minute walk (probably 3 km). I have also seen really young children walking to school without an adult and it gets me wondering. It doesn't sound right to me. I don't think I will feel comfortable until my children are 10 at least. Maybe i'm being a little too overprotective I don't know, but I would rather be safe than sorry. If you can see the school from your home than I think it would be okay to have them walk alone as you can actually see them get there safely.

Kim - posted on 11/13/2011

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Hi Jenn- I am also the mom to a Kindergartener (she's an only child thus far), and I also question when it is okay for her to do certain things without me. Your question is a good one, and you will probably get many different answers. First, I have to say that the community/neighborhood he has to walk through to get to school plays a major factor in walking to school without an adult- I'm sure you have already considered this. Also busy streets and street crossings are a big deal- as you have mentioned. But honestly, in the world we live in today, I would not feel at all comfortable having my Kindergartener walk to school by herself or even with other children. I think kiddos at this age still have a real need for an adult to be nearby. Granted, they can typically play outside in the immediate neighborhood with other kids without too much worry (don't have to hover around watching their every move in that situation), but walking to school is a whole other animal. There are too many bad people out there, looking for trouble, too many kidnapping cases on the news. It's hard to find the right balance in allowing your child to learn responsibility and allowing him to have some freedom and being just downright overprotective. However, in this situation, I say it's much better to err on the side of being protective, given the possible bad consequences. Just my two cents...

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