At what age did you let your child walk to school alone?
Every fall many moms are trying to decide whether theirs kids are ready to walk to school alone. How did you know when your child was ready and how did you prepare them?
Mine have walked to the bus since the oldest was in 2nd grade. 7 years old. And, prior to that, the oldest walked himself to and from the bus daily, from 5 yrs old.
There is no blanket answer to this question. Every situation is different, and every parent is different. I, myself, felt that my kids were old enough to walk to the bus as soon as they were old enough to start playing at other's houses, and crossing the street.
EVERY child should know the difference between a stranger and a familiar adult from the time that they can talk, and every child should know how to scream at the top of their lungs and kick, bite, struggle if grabbed, and all of that can be taught at a young age.
What bothers me about these answers is that, if you answer that you're going to keep watch over your kid until they graduate, you're getting voted up, and those of us who prefer to foster independence and critical thinking skills in our children are voted down. Well, start voting me down, because I prefer that my kids (now 14 and 17, and never even looked at for a snatching) learn how to operate independently, how to move forward through life, and how to be a confident person.
Granted, I live in Wyoming. If I were forced to live somewhere like, say NYC, my view would probably be different, and my answer would reflect that.
My daughter, who's in third grade this year, started walking to school independently last year when she was in second. Before she set off on her own, we talked about safety rules, made sure she identified houses all along her route that she could stop at and knock on the door if she felt unsafe for any reason. These were the homes of neighbors we know and trust, and know that if she truly had a need, they'd open the door to her. She also knows she can turn and run back home if she needs to as well. I also "shadowed" her for the first few times she walked on her own...I hung back several feet and watched while I walked her younger siblings to school. She had practiced crossing the street the previous year with me when she was still in first grade. And additionally, there are several other kids that walk to and from school that she already knows, so I haven't worried about it a ton. We do live in a safe neighborhood, and when there are safety concerns, the parents in the neighborhood are good banding together to work through problems and get them solved. Halfway through last year, My oldest son, who is just a year younger than his sister, started occasionally walking to and from school with her, which was good practice for them both. The two of them now routinely walk to school together, and it's been fine so far. Since I have two younger boys that I still walk to school, my two oldest know they can walk back to me if there are any problems. I agree that how parents handle this will vary greatly, since some neighborhoods are safer and have less traffic than others. Each family needs to make the best choice for their individual situations.
Well, I live in Iceland :) It's very safe here. The kids who live near school all walk alone to the school, starting in 1st grade, or 6 years old. Since we live about 15min walk from school we drive her to school but next year she'll walk for sure.
So here in Iceland it's 6 - 7 year old.
I have to say, I just don't care if your child is mature at 5 or 6 or 7 or 8..or if you can see the school from your front window, OR you and your brothers and sisters did it when you were young, it just isn't a good idea. Please don't think me an extremist, or that I am "living in fear", but it just doesn't make sense to me. I lived in a very nice neighborhood a few years ago where a little girl was stolen while playing in her own front yard with a friend, and another was taken on her way to the bus stop when she was walking with a friend. Unfortunately, these are the times we live in, and no 6 or 7 year old in the world can defend themselves properly against what's out there. Wow - I really do sound scared, don't I? Well, I guess I prefer to think of it as realistic. I live in a great place now as well, but the parents actually sit in their cars just a couple of houses down the street from where the bus picks up their children. My own daughter never walked to school and never was at a bus stop wihout supervision, even if it was just a few feet away. You can actually become one of the "cool parents" at the same time; it doesn't have to be looked at as babying your child. It is strictly common sense until they are more physically able to defend themselves.
My son was 5, just like me and my brothers.
Admittedly, he didn't have to walk far (350 metres), and when he had asthma I would dawdle along the road with him.
When we moved when he was 8, he used to catch the train across town to get to school and home again.
10 y.o. or 5th grade. Old enough to beware of strangers. Walk to school is safe, short, visible. Also, lots of kids walk to and from school. My only concern is vehicular motor traffic congestion that competes with pedestrian traffic at peak traffic times, arrival and departure at school.
i think it depends on the maturity of the child. i also feel it depends on how far away from the school you live. and the area. i think its always better to have them walk with a group of kids it makes them less of a target for bullies and the seldom, hopefully, to approached by a predator. i only say that because in some ares where you would not expect this to happen you hear of kids that luckily got away from a creep. for the most part our kids are safe i would more concerned about the bullies more than anything. teaching our kids how to get out of any possible situation i feel is also good in order to protect them and help them feel more secure.
My daughter is six and in the first grade. She does NOT walk to school by herself. My husband and I have decided that when she is old enough to stay home by herself then she'll be old enough to walk to and from school by herself. Here in California there isn't a legal age for your child to stay home alone, however, most authorities tend to agree that 12 is acceptable for children to be left at home alone. Times have changed, therefore in many major metropolitan areas it's not safe for children under the age of ten to walk to and from by themselves. When I was a child this was not a problem because we grew up on an Air Force Base. Thus I remember walking to school as early as the second grade. Where you live is a major deciding factor along with your child's maturity level. We may change our minds in the future if any of these factors change.
I am an over protective parent. I have a 7 year old and a 20 year old, both tiny girls. I have never let my kids walk alone to school. My oldest was driven to and from school by me until she was old enough to have her own car/license and could drive herself. My youngest, we either walk her on really nice days or on most days drive her to and from school as well. In this day and age, with all the perverts and creepy people out there, can't be too careful. Neither of my kids have ever been resentful, rather they find comfort in knowing mom is there, taking them, maintaining safety. For this I am thankful! I am also thankful that I am a stay at home mom and am able to do this. I know many parents are both working outside the home and this isn't possible. So for that, I think it takes a village to raise a child and we as neighbors, fellow parents should be keeping an eye out. I have called the police before after seeing a lone man holding a sign in front of the school, they came and removed him from the neighborhood. Just being aware is key.
School policy where my boys go is that children up to year 3 must be picked up by a parent or approved (by the parent) adult, or a sibling over age 14. Most parents up to that year also take their child to school.
From year 4 to year 6 kids can walk to and from school alone with signed parental permission. Without the permission, the school won't release the kids.
We're in England. This is a specific school policy, not a statutory policy.
My children's elementary school required a plan of who would pick up the child for grade pre-k - 2nd. After that you had the option of signing the form for them to walk home alone or with friends. This was the same rule for the bus stop. Young children needed a parent to stay with them until the bus came and to be there when the bus dropped them off. Before I allowed my children to go alone, we had walked it together many times and they knew what to expect of the route. We had seen the issues together and knew what problems could come up; such as traffic and other kids' behavior. My youngest, (and more responsible child) had a job in 5th grade to walk a neighbor's 1st grader to our house. It was about 2 1/2 blocks with a crossing guard. My son was paid 50 cents a day, and took his job very seriously. I was at home watching for them and another mom, along the way, was watching out, also. When they enter middle and high school it is still important to make sure they know the route well before the first day of school; and that you have a plan in place for bad weather, accidents, or wanting to go to a friend's house. I feel like it is important to empower your child with knowledge and practice, no matter what their age.
My son is 6 and we have been walking to the shops and everywhere in town since he could walk or ride a scooter. Now he has started prep and he is very road savvi and mature as we have walked everywhere in the town we live in. Personally I would be confortable for him to scooter or ride by himself now but I know I would get flack from other parents, so I haven't thus far but he does ride or scooter a block or two ahead of me and knows to meet me at the main street for us to walk together the remainder or the way to school.
My eldest daughter (now third grade) started getting the bus home from school herself from first grade. But it completely depends on the children themselves - I'd not dream of letting my 2nd daughter bus herself yet, she's still in first grade, but she dreams. My eldest is a lot more responsible and serious, and I know I can trust her more. Strangely, I'd have less of a problem with my kindergartener bussing herself than my first grader.
lily is 11 and she lives 2 blocks away from school so she has always walked to school alone mostly. she is allowed to walk to dancing and stuff too
Every kid is different and it also depends on the neighborhood. Our neighbor hood is pretty safe but a couple miles away its not safe and unfortunately those people come in and wander our area. It also depends on the students at the school. The twins school have many kids bused in and the students are not very motivated to learn and more interested in causing trouble. I do not allow my kids to walk to school I do allow them to walk together to friends houses that live around the school since our area is safe and just watch out for cars driving slowly and strangers. You have to look at your area and the type of students that are at the school and your kids maturity.
I'm not a big advocate of walking alone to school.. before Middle school.
My son is 6 and in the first grade. His school is down the street (I can see the main crosswalk from my front yard). He is allowed to walk to school by himself. There is heavy traffic on our residential street and we have worked on being aware of your surroundings. However, he is not allowed to walk home alone, the difference being each child is running off in different directions and I think he would be too tempted to run off and play.
My decision was made out of necessity being unable to afford daycare for 3 kids. My son was 9 close to 10 and the oldest of two girls (6,7 at the time). We live about 6 blocks from the school. There's one monitored corner with traffic concerns, but the rest is neighborhood. I felt better with the 3 walking together. They join up with other kids down the street and the school is aware of where they live and that they walk to school. They call if the kids haven't shown up (found that out when I forgot to call in a sick kid.)
However I did experience their lack of listening about not riding with strangers. One day on their way home (the first year without daycare) it was a horrible, wet, freezing mess and a neighbor to the school had just backed out of her driveway and felt bad for the kids and offered them a ride. They accepted!!! We all had a very long talk about that and hearing my fear taught them something. They've received offers after that and kindly declined. I have now been asked by parents if they can drive them home on bad weather days, which I've allowed. It's nice they want to help them out.
I am questioning getting a cell phone for them to carry so I can track them. I also worry when it's my youngest walking alone when the older two are in Jr High. She'll be 10...but it doesn't seem the same as the when they're together. I might just go back to daycare when the time comes.
It's good to give them reminders about their behavior on the road (when there are no sidewalks, or they're covered in snow) occasionally.
I only started letting my son come home from school, this year. He is 10 years old and in grade five. I still take him to school in the mornings but he now wants to say "bye Mom" before we get to the school, at the perimeter(fenced area). That is why I think he is ready. He watches for traffic and uses the crosswalk. It took me a while to get used to. He also walks home with a friend that lives in our building.
I live in Japan. Most of school children walk to school from the day when they start school days except for some who lives very far from school. They use a school bus.
So we rarely drive chiledren to school.
I think the most different thing is that all children are organized to a group in ther neighborhood regardless of their grade. Children walk to school but not alone. Every morning they go to school together. When they go home, it depends on what time they finish school. But not alone, some of the group go home at the same time.
Oh how I wish!!! The school they COULD walk to is less than a mile from the house... We tried that (public) school and my son was Bullied EVERY DAY he went there. We chose another school 1.5 miles away, (totally worth it!!) Then My #1 was accepted to a special needs academy!!! We have been soo blessed by this school!! it is HOWEVER, 10.5 miles from our house.... :( (still totally worth it )! this school is moving within 5 BLOCKS of our house!!! I am so tempted to allow #1 to walk!!! His father (who I feel is WAAA over protective) would most likely have a heart attack over it - so I can only dream....
I don't let my child walk to school, it is quite sad, when I was young it was safe enough for me to walk anywhere, now, even though she knows the saftety rules and not to talk to strangers etc, ANYTHING can happen and I don't want to take that risk, it's just not worth it.
On the other hand, if your child walks to school with friends and they all stay together then it would be safer.
Not safe, I don't let my daughter walk home without me
There are so many variables associated with this answer, that there really is no right or wrong answer. Traffic, distance, neighborhood, age, and maturity are all factors to consider when deciding what is the safest method for your child. My daughter will be entering 7th grade after the summer. Her school is about four miles away and all but about 1/2 mile of that is paved sidewalk, no hills but a decent amount of traffic. I rode halfway with her today, making sure she crossed the major intersections safely. Then for the last two miles, she rode and I followed closely behind in my vehicle, stopping here and there to see how she navigated the latter part, which is also busy, and part of which is across the edge of a field (no high crops). She did really well and we discussed everything I saw her do or not do when we got home. It only took her about 35 mins so she did really well. She is getting to an age where she wants a little more independence and I believe that with the amount of traffic, she may actually be safer because there will be so many people around to see if anything happens. She has a cell phone and other than the field, there are plenty of houses she could stop at if she needed help. It is not that we are planning to make this a regular thing but in the event she wants to ride with a friend or we can't make it to her school on time with the release time change, I wanted to make sure she could get home safely. We will be practising this journey, changing our routes slightly, a number of times between now and the beginning of the new school year, so that we can be sure of her safety. She will also be required to text at certain locations so we can track her progress. They have to learn to be aware of whats going on around them and always be prepared for anything. This can only happen with coaching and practice. This also shows that you trust them to make the right decisions.
My son is in the second grade and wants so badly to walk to school by himself but I don't think this day in age that it is safe for any child to do so. As long as I can be here to take him and pick him up he will not walk the 4 blocks to school. I watch the news and know what happens to kids every day.
When my girls started school I drove them it was only a 3 minute car ride. Somedays we would walk it would take 7 minutes. I could never bring my self to them walk by themselves when I was 6 I walked home once by myself and someone tried to grab me I of course didn't walk home by myself agian until I got to high school. So it is really hard for me to let my girls go off on there own they are 6 & 8 we even lived on a secured military instillation. We moved last year and now we 30 minutes from there school. Their bus stop is at the bottom of our small hill and I walk them to and from I know they can do it themselves but I just can't let them yet.
Have a hard time believing some of the things I am reading - letting 5-6 year olds walk by themselves? Yes, as pre-teens, my friend and I traveled by tram, subway, and bus (all in one day and without adults), but this was 30 years ago and the world has changed since then. Adults are less inclined to interfere and intervene with others' kids. More importantly, I feel that children below 10 (and some even older than that!) are not capable of making decisions concerning their safety and well-being. That is why they are children and we are adults! I think no amount of safety talks will ensure that a child that age will be capable of making the right decision in every situation. Come on, that's why we do not allow children that young use the stove (and drive, and many, many other things). Let's not lose sight of the fundamental differences between children and grown ups just for convenience sake
ps: my son began walking to school alone last year, at age 10 (armed w/ a cell phone)
i think that it is important that you know your child. my youngest son is 9 and he is not mature enough to walk far by himself. he doesn't look for cars, even though i have constantly told him to do so. that being said, my other kids were around 8 or 9 when i let them walk to school/store together. i don't think that kids should really walk alone until they are 10, but in a group 8 is ok.
my kids are thrid and second grade where i kivei wont let them walk by themselves not even my 12 year old gets to
We are lucky enough to have a walking school bus in the mornings. Its a good way for the kids to walk to school, make new friends and ensure they are safe with a parent as well as meaning you dont have to walk them every day. I let my daughter walk home from school from the age of 7 when i felt confident enough that she was responsible with road rules, safety and stranger danger and also because i knew shed come straight home and there is less traffic in the afternoon where i live. Its entirely up to each parent to decide if the child is ready or not, they say most kids dont "get" the road rules till they are 7 and a half. But i beg to diifer as my daughter is very good and 2 of the boys on our walking school bus who are 6 and 9 and brothers are terrible at looking properly! I constantly have to ask them to look and pay attention or we wont be crossing the road til they do! (really not sure how they manage to get home in one piece after school!) Its awful busy in the morning with lots of cars who incidentally seem to forget the road rules when it comes to stopping at a crossing hence i always tell them all the kids to stop and wait. If we didnt have a "bus" i would probably have walked my daughter to school as i had to walk my son to kindy anyway. And now hes just started school i wouldnt allow him to walk with her by himself as hes not so compliant with his sister! And im now picking them both up after school as hes too young yet to walk home with big sis and as he also has Aspergers i simply dont trust him to get home on time! disregarding these factors i would have been ok for her to walk to school at around 7 yrs.
I let my 8 and 9 year old walk in a group of other kids. They only have a block to go. I can watch them from the window. If it were any further or if they weren't in a group I would feel nervous. It's not that I don't trust my kids. They have shown themselves to be responsible kids who have made great decisions. It's just that it only takes a second for somebody to take them or for something terrible to happen. When they are near adult size in middle school maybe I will feel more comfortable. For right now, I still don't let them be unsupervised very long.
It depends on the child, neighborhood and distance. My son started walking by himself when he was in the second grade. We live roughly 3.5 blocks from the school, now he is in the 4th grade and our daughter is in the first grade so we let him walk to and from school with his sister. We also get him a bus card just in case they see something they don't like while walking they can hop on the bus for those few blocks. Their school is on the corner of two major streets so we always let them know to walk the main road where there is always people and vehicles present and not take any short cuts, the only residential block they should walk down is the one they live on.
in my opinion, how things are right now so many kidnapped kids and all this dangerous stuff happening in this world, im not overprotective with my kids, but this days we have to keep really close attention to everything that happens everywhere, cause even in the safest neighborhood they still not safe. my son is 7 and he is very responsible if i ask him to go outside and get the mail, he gets it and comes back inside, he knows not to talk to strangers and stuff. even like this the sickest person can be right around the corner and we might not even notice it. thats just my opinion this world is full of sick people and their target are kids.
I don't think its wise until he's a teen after all most kids who are kidnapped are grabbed within a few miles or blocks of their home and 3-14.
I would consider it in middle school depending on the area. I live in daytona florida and would never let my 7 year old walk the 1 mile to school since every morning i turn on the news and hear about perverts trying to pick up children( even high school aged) walking to and from school. Also we have to cross an intersection when we walk home(her dad takes her to school in the mornings and i walk and pick her up in the afternoons) and i myself have almost been hit 3 different times even with the cross walk giving me right of way and with a crossing guard present. I grew up in northern virginia, back woods, and we had to ride the bus to town for school but got dropped off 1 mile from our house and we walked but it was a much more safer town. Plus this year alone 17 children have been hit (a few have died) walking to and from school in our county because not all of the schools down here can afford buses for all neighborhoods. We live in a 3 mile radius and the children attending the elementary school is required to walk or be picked up and since i don't have a car it makes we have to walk but i would never let my 7 year old walk alone. Point is i think it depends on where you live and the distance the child has to walk.
We live in Brooklyn and my son is in kindergarten, the school will only release kids that age to a parent or other approved person. But since traffic can be busy and it is NYC I will probably take him to and from school for quite a awhile. His current school is about a 10 minute walk and accepts grades pre-k through 5th. Once he outgrows that school he should be old enough to go alone and besides the school is just up the block, no traffic to worry about. I grew up in a small town where nothing ever really happened and the community watched out for the kids, I walked across town in kindergarten to go to and from school. The town I grew up in built a new school quite a few years ago and since it was further away now most kids gets bussed to school.
i only allowed my children to walk to school alone when they started high school
I think this is a very personal decision and depends on the individual child and the distance they have to travel to school as well as the area. At our school in the UK nearly all parents bring their children to school. Only the older children aged 9 to 11 would walk on their own. Up until year 4 (age 9) the school expects children to be picked up by a parent/carer - the teacher accompanies the class out and hands the child over to a parent/carer. Only in year 5 and 6 are they let out without a teacher present to make their own way home. I think this is a reasonable age to be idependent and gets them ready for moving on to High School in Year 7.
my boys are 7 and 5. we live right across the street from the backside of the school. they have to walk across the street, across the running track and then across a play yard and parking lot to get into the school. i stand on my porch and am able to watch them walk until the play yard then i lose sight because of a metal building in the way. in the afternoons, there are always several other kids walking home and they usually walk in groups and older kids watch out for the younger ones. before they started walking, my husband and i sat them down and told them the rules (no talking to strangers, straight there straight back, etc) and i drove them the first morning but met them at the door to walk home that afternoon. they've been walking for 2 1/2 months now with no problems at all.