Independent Children as young as five?

[deleted account] ( 13 moms have responded )

I see so many children as young as five walking to school in the mornings and back home after school.Is it for there independence or what.Fine okay in a group but i still wouldnt let my five year old walk alone to school either way..If she didnt make it to school for what ever reason the teacher would think shes out sick and then what.Shes been taken and i dont know until hours later when i go to collect her and i am told she never came to school.



Whats your thoughts on this.I do think independence is very important but is it as young as five.I was doing this at age 11-12.

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Connie - posted on 06/03/2010

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I have homeschooled my son for the last 4 years just because of that! They did away with the bus service you could purchase and I couldn't take him back and forth. We only live a half mile away, straight down the street, but it is a busy street with a LOT of side streets. My oldest was clipped by a car when he was 11 walking home from school because someone wasn't paying attention and just turned right into him. Two 12 year old boys were just accosted last month in a nearby park, even though we live in one of the safest neighborhoods in the country. My youngest is 9 now and we are sending him to public school next year. I am purchasing a GPS sensor that I will put on his shoe and be able to track his every move on my computer. I'm still freaked out about letting him walk. My neighbor will be taking him back and forth most days.

Amie - posted on 06/02/2010

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Ah good point Kelly. Our kids school has a similar policy. Parents or a trusted "guardian", which can mean anything from a neighbor to an older sibling. Our kids school, their entire staff, knows our kids and they've done well with walking by themselves. It's only home though, since our oldest gets bused to a different school in the mornings. So I drop him off.

Meghan - posted on 06/02/2010

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I don't know! 5 is really young. We used to walk to and from the bus stop which was like a block or so away...but that was like 15ish years ago...times have changed. I think I will be driving him to school and if for some reason I can't I will be the one to organaize some sort of car pool for the neighborhood kids. Too many things could happen!

[deleted account]

Absolutely NOT at age 5.....that's WAY too young in my opinion! I've heard of some moms letting their children walk ahead or behind them with a group of children BUT the mom or another adult was always nearby.....the theory is to give them some independence while monitoring their behavior, eventually leading up to the obvious...

[deleted account]

My son is starting kindy this fall and I was told that they will not allow a child to leave the school without their assigned adult (they have a number system). So the kids could feasibly walk TO school, but they would need an adult to walk them home. We live less than 1/2 mile from the school, but there is no side walk :( I

A school near us has a "walking school bus" which I think is AWESOME. Two people (usually parent volunteers or teachers) walk the route picking up kids and they all walk together. They have 4 routes right now, with 10-15 kids on each one. Our school has more houses in walking distance than their school so I think this would be a good option for us if we could just get the side walk in.


Sorry, I totally went off on a tangent, my 5 year old will NOT be walking by himself--with or without a side walk. Too Dangerous. But in a group with an adult, I think I would let him.

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[deleted account]

Kindergarten age? Unless you lived right beside the school, no I am for the parent/older sibling/neighbor/ day care provider walking them to and from school.

Grade 1? Same as above applies.
Grade 2 may be a block or two from school at most.
9+ a 3-4 blocks with some serious discussion about routine

I took the bus to school when I was 5 and 6 (no JK back then).

We moved and I walked to school alone at the age of 7 (with my sister and brother. My sister is my twin and our brother is 2 years younger). We lived two houses away from the school.
When I was 10 we moved and we walked alone about 3 or so blocks. With at least 4-5 other children near us in age (older and younger). When we were 11 we were allowed to ride our bikes back and forth as long as we wore our helmets and followed the rules of the road. (We lived on a very quiet street).

I really think it depends on the neighborhood and the child to determine what age they need to be to walk on their own. I believe 5 and under is waay to young.
6+ is a judgment call on the parents' part.

Having walked kindergarten aged children to the local school for four years now, I also know the teachers like to be able to talk directly with a parent/care giver from time to time especially if there are on going problems.

Oddly when the 7 year old I looked after asked me about walking to school and back on his own when he started grade 2, my answer was no not because I didn't think he could do it or would wander etc, it was because of the group of bullies that live in the complex next to mine.
I was up front about it with the 7 year old as well about why I said no and that if they were to move I'd gladly talk to his Mom about allowing him to at least walk home to my house.
Now I do live less then half a block from the school. The crossing guard is my neighbor and I know most of the local families in the four complexes on this street.

Just my two cents and then some ;)

Amie - posted on 06/03/2010

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Connie it could be said as well that it`s not that these issues are more prevalent now a days. It`s just that we now live in a global world. Our media and connections are on a much bigger scale then they were even when I was a child.

It may not be so much that there are more of them (after all how many adults come forward each year about priests, coaches, etc. having molested them as kids?) it's just that we are more aware of it. Not only because our media is now better equipped to let us know what is going on everywhere (which makes it look that much worse when you think on the global scale of kids dying every day, kids being kidnapped or molested, etc.) but because this generation also has the access to information at any time. Even look at this... FB... I just heard about a hate crime that was committed in Ontario (nowhere near me) in a small town that didn't make national news because it showed up on my newsfeed. People share information all the time, it's creating overly paranoid people.

When I was in HS there were 7 students that died. One was suicide, 2 were in snowmobile accidents and the rest were car accidents. My mom enrolled us in defensive driving at 18 as well as the standard Canadian classes you take as a student at 16. She equipped us for every possible situation.

Her way of parenting though has come with some costs. When I was old enough to leave home, I did and I ran far. I love my parents but the only way to get away from my mom's craziness was to move to the city, away from her. She now lives an hour and a half away but her craziness is now being projected onto my children. My dad is pretty adept at keeping her under control though. So while she drives me absolutely nuts with some of her worries, I know she means well but without dad.. there is no way I would talk to her as much as I do. I do not want her hang ups that she has passed onto me (trust me I am terrified of a lot) to my children.

My brother on the other hand has none of the fears. He bought a Harley last month actually, my mom is still tripping out about that. He's 27.

I think we came out ok in the end mostly because of both of our parents. If my dad wasn't there to level it out, if they both were that extreme... I probably wouldn't talk to either of them at all. I really wouldn't. It's hard dealing with constant negativity. Worrying all the time is a negative feeling and drains a child.

My mom is now having the same issues with my 17 year old sister that she had with me.

Connie - posted on 06/03/2010

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I agree, Amie, but it isn't my kids I'm worried about these days. It's everyone else. My oldest son is one of the best drivers, but a friend of his was killed by a woman texting and driving, so I still worry about him, although I would never not let him drive. When I was young we were kicked out the door after breakfast, wandered in when we were hungry and mom started yelling for us when it got dark. She didn't worry about us getting run over, because people were more vigilant and had fewer driving distractions. She didn't worry about us getting molested or taken, because that was so rare. It's just not anymore. My brother just happened to go online to check the sex offender data base before they put in an offer on a house. A convicted pedophile, on parole, lived five houses down on the sidewalk side of the street his girls would use to get to school. Luckily he was one that was registered. It is a totally different world we live in today, and we are responsible for the safety and well being of our children, their utmost advocate. I don't scare my children or keep them unduly restricted, but I am diligent about making their lives as safe as possible for as long as possible.

Amie - posted on 06/03/2010

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Being careful is why you educate your children though. Not lock them up inside your home. I lean more towards a hover parent, I do this a lot because of how my mom raised me. She is the ultimate hover parent. Even to this day. If it had not been for my grandma telling her to butt out and let me live my life, she probably wouldn't have let go as much as she has.

It's a fine line to walk. Raising your children in a bubble does not prepare them for real life. Just shoving them out into the world for them to work out potential problems is dangerous.

Balance is key.

[deleted account]

Thank you moms for your thoughts and storys.I understand some do it and some would never but being so careful is whats important.An older sibling is a good idea but still anything can happen.When i was 11 i was walking home with a neighbour the same age and we were chased by a man who had mental health problems and i was terrified and we were so lucky we could run faster than he could.
Connie, sorry to hear about your son thats my worse fear of ever allowing my kid to go without me even at an older age.Being hit by a car,attacked or taken..my gosh i couldnt do it..Thanks again moms.

Amie - posted on 06/02/2010

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This year, actually in the last 2 months, I have let my oldest (who is turning 10 in July) to start walking to and from school with her brother. He is 5, he'll be 6 in September, and in kindergarten.

Before we allowed this though, we walked the route with her and she was told she MUST follow this route every time. We went over her safety with her again (how to handle strangers, accidents, etc.) and then one day after school I let them walk home.

We do only live a block and a half from their school though. Their school calls whenever a student doesn't show up in the morning and after lunch. They're pretty on top of everything. I only had a panic attack once, I got a phone call to see if she'd be attending school that day. I freaked out and said she had left for school 20 minutes ago so she could play during recess before school. The receptionist put me on hold and said she'd double check. Turns out she was in her class, her teacher had forgotten to mark her as present.

Other than that we have had no problems. Our son is not allowed to walk to and from school without his sister or one of us though. When he's in grade 4, and if we're still living this close to their school, we will allow him the same deal.

I think grade 4 is ok for most kids. Some I wouldn't trust but then those kids I don't think their parents care either. Not that they don't love them, but that they don't care what their kids do or where they are all the time. I can't imagine being a parent like that. =S I would surely age myself at least 20 years. LOL!

I grew up in a small town. By the time I was in 2nd grade I was walking alone to and from school, to friends houses, to the store. It was also small enough though that everyone knew everyone, we all watched out for each other.

I think parents know their children best but some parents have trouble letting go. I do lean more towards a hover parent but I also recognize my childrens strengths and intelligence. I know they will be ok. They know how to handle themselves.

However when playing, they are not allowed off the block. LOL! Haven't taken the leap to let them go play at the park all day alone. That's just too much for me. =S Our oldest has taken our dog for a walk around the block by herself though. That was an easier decision to make, our dog is fairly large and I know she'd protect any of our kids if need be.

[deleted account]

Thank you, someone who actually thinks straight.I feel the exact same Nikki.I just cant understand what those parents are thinking,it really breaks my heart to see.I also feel it is neglect sorry if i do offend anybody.It would be seen as neglect to leave a child of five at home alone to fend for themselves, so allowing them to make it to school on there own is also the same.If anything happened to my child while walking to school on there own i wouldnt be able to live with myself.

Nikki - posted on 06/02/2010

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Are you kidding? NO WAY! My god my poor child will not be allowed until she is in High School. I don't think it's independence, parents who practice stupidity don't usually have learning outcomes in mind for their children. At 5 years old, I would almost consider that neglect, a 5 year old does not have the problem solving skills to deal with unsavoury situations which may arise.

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