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?

40  Answers

13,264 21

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.

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What I find most disconcerting in these answers is the assumption that the children will be attacked by strangers, when in most cases when a child is abused or bullied, it is by someone they know.

13,264 21

Quite true, Tania, and it is very disturbing.

235 30

It definitely depends on where you live. We've had too many kidnappings in our area just outside Salt Lake City, Utah for me to ever consider it, but when we used to live in Butte, Montana I was less restrictive. I try to find other ways to foster my girls' independence without putting them in an unsafe situation. I walked to school alone in Kindergarten, but unfortunately it is a different world that my children are growing up in. I think we all have to decide for our children based on their maturity level, how far away the location they're walking to is and time of day etc. I have allowed my 16 year old to long board to her best friend's house during the day, but never at night and she has to call me when she gets there. I have allowed my 9 and 12 year old to walk alone a block away so long as they call me when they get there. My 4 year old only gets to go next door by herself and someone watches her the whole way until she goes inside. Our schools are too far away for me to let them walk by themselves, but I'm perfectly fine to let them walk with someone. There are a lot of moms in my neighborhood who won't let their kids walk at all which I think is ridiculous. I do drive my girls when it's below freezing because my 12 year old has a hard time breathing the cold air and car exhaust with her asthma.

13,264 21

Hey, Julie, I can relate, really, I can! We're Wyoming, here, so its easier. But, I, too, drive them when it's really cold, mainly because I HATED walking or riding the bus in bad weather...LOL...so mine are spoiled. Actually, I should say I USED to spoil mine...LOL...now that my oldest has his driver's license, I don't take 'em anywhere...

93 0

I agree.I wonder what parents who hover are going to do if their kid goes out of state or to a different country for college. Scarier still what are the kids going to do? What kind of skills will they have outside of the safe little micromanaged cocoon they were kept in? I don't believe that letting kids try their wings, and letting them mess up sometimes equals negligence. Does it seem to you that some people think that being paranoid makes you a great parent? Believe me ,I'm not naive,I worked in felony probation for years. Minna

235 30

Update: It would make my life so much easier if my 10 year old walked to and from school on her own, but she has no one to walk with and a sex offender(child molesting, child pornography, etc.) just moved in next door to us. His parole officer came to talk to us. So there is NO WAY I will let ANY of my girls walk, bike, skateboard etc. anywhere alone EVER!:(

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4 8

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.

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13,264 21

Don't know why you were at negative votes for being honest, Sigrun! Its refreshing to see all perspectives! I let my sons walk from the time he was 7 as well.

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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.

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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.

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Wow, after reading this it is looking like the parents who don't agree with letting children walk to school alone aren't getting any "votes"? Shame.....well I agree with all of you. Some of us will be looked at as too protective, but I do not agree. Children are just too young until they are AT LEAST in middle school. I will vote for you, my friends!

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Im w you. You just dont get a second chance. When I was about 11 I had a perv try to grt me in his car. Complete stranger. I know I wouldnt be here if he succeeded. So I know it's real. Chances are it will never happen to her but why risk it? I dont think its living in fear just having survival instincts. Sometimes fear is the right emotion. If shes a little too sheltered I'll take her hiking and whitewater rafting to improve her confidence. I just want to get her to adulthood in one piece.

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26 0

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.

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I should add to this that kids learn independence and how to be street smart by walking to school. When my son was 9, he moved in with his father who wouldn't let him walk anywhere - he was over-protective and by 11 my son was a nervous wreck when staying with me and we'd go out in public if he lost sight of me... which I found to be a concern as he'd been a very independent toddler, preschooler and child. He came back to live with me at 16, and it took a while for him to get up the courage to bus all over town again and be that confident little boy he used to be. He's now gone flatting at 17 in preparation for University starting next week and is spreading his wings again. I hope that when he has finished studying he will go on his OE for a couple of years backpacking around Europe with confidence.

13,264 21

Why the negative votes for those of us who aren't afraid to teach our kids independence? The question was asked, after all. Tania, I think you are right on top of it, and I hope your son starts to feel the confidence again soon.

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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.

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I agree these time are a problem but I have taught my son to only cross at the crossing manned by a lolly pop person

0 4

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.

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I so agree with your comment. My son is 12 (but he is Vertically challenged and looks about 8) He is in Middle School, which is 7 blocks away. I REFUSE to let him walk home by himself as I will not leave him for any long lengths of time at home by himself. As said Times have changed!!!!

0 14

this is the best answer i have read yet! good decision you and your husband made! makes me feel a little better because i feel sometimes i shelter my son.

0 2

My kids take the bus to school but at the age of 10 we started to leave our son home for small periods of time and also let him start riding his scooter/bike to his friends house in the neighborhood who lives a little more than half a mile away. He was always to call when he got there and call when on his way home. It is all side streets with no sidewalks but both my children know to stay to the side always. I was 8 years old when I went to school on my own. He will be 12 this year and we have no problem leaving him home for a few hours now.

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6 15

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.

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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.

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13,264 21

Natasha, you should never let "flak from other parents" especially harassment because you've done something differently than they have, affect your parenting decisions. If you are confident in what you've taught your boy, then why give in to the parents that won't mind babysitting their college age kids? Give your child the tools to be independent, I say!

1 10

NEVER!

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Absolutely!!!!

12 20

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.

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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

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13,264 21

Again, why the negative votes? Good job to you, Doreen, for encouraging independence!

0 0

My daughter is 11 and just entered middle school. She is now catching the train AND a bus, along with her friends home from school. Her dad and I both work, so we can't pick her up. But MOST of her friends get home from school on their own. But there are a few who don't allow it and will probably be paying babysitters to pick up their kids from school until they graduate high school. My daughter was ready to make her own way home from school.

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4 14

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.

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Sorry, Beth, but unless you live in a truly bad neighbourhood, that's just terrible! Driving a high-school age kid to school? I have difficulty believing your daughter put up with you doing that. I have a vertically challenged child too, and have made it my business to make sure that she gets out and has as much independence as my other children. It would be easy to baby her, but she needs to know how to live in this world. BTW, we have found that indeed people in the neighbourhood do look out for each other's kids - but if you never allow your children out in the neighbourhood, they will never work that out. Also, that poor man with the sign - was he actually doing anything harmful? Did you try talking to him, before you phoned the police? Not terribly neighbourly....

4 14

Tania, My high school age daughter had no issues with me driving her to school, until she got her own car at 16, her sophomore year. She is now 20 and is very self confident and independent, she is a college student, very social, very responsible, works etc. I believe she has been taught how to spread her wings and be independent regardless of me driving her to her first years of high school or not. I think there is a lot more to raising kids than just the transport to school and how they get there. As far as the questionable man in front of the school, in our neighborhood there is no place, no need for a male (not parent) individual to be standing with a sign in front of an elementary school as school gets out and many kids are walking home and to their parents cars...yes, parents that pick up their kids...shocking!! He was not a neighbor, we are in a friendly, nice, upper middle class neighborhood, this man clearly didn't fit. The police were very nice, very much in agreement that this man had no reason to be in the area, thus sending him gently on his way. I'm sorry, but before you judge others and "have a hard time believing" what others do, maybe you should know them a little better. This is a comment site, asking for opinions, not a site to make another feel bad or insinuate that their parenting styles are not up to your standards. You raise your kids, and I will raise mine!

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18 10

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.

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18 10

Year 4 - 6, not age 4 - 6. They're 8 - 11 years of age then.

14 8

Even 5 can be too young. What can fit for one doesn't fit for all. The safety of the child has to have priority. My father lives in a quiet rural area and anyone would expect it to be safe. A little 5 year old girl set off to visit a friend in the neighborhood and was never seen again. Turned out that the people she went to see weren't home. Where did that little girl go?? Imagine losing a child like that. I would be devastated. So I chose to make certain my kids were going to be safe. I would never trust them at 5 years of age to know how to be safe alone.

1 19

Regardless of the country your from (Im in New Zealand) one shouldnt assume that evetone is the same and should be the same! Each country is different and like Shawnn says each area is different! The area i live in quite safe and lots of kids walk to school and home and lots of parents look out for other kids. If i lived in one of the lowere class areas where i live i would not allow simply because i know its not safe! Our street is so safe that my 8yr old can go play outside on the street with her friends! Oh hell, i must clearly be insane! And our school also has in place a school policy where the 5 and 6 yr olds must wait for their parent or caregiver to pick them up

47 13

I was thankfully corrected by Nan that she meant grades and not ages. I understand age 5 in some situations, I'm in the Boston area and would never allow my daughter off alone at 5, but my son has more street sense so he would be able to leave our street at 5 years old. I was incorrect about generalizing, and you have my sincere appologies. My mind was thinking city, since I'm in a city, and that wasn't fair to those of you blessed enough to live in safer areas. I was 5 when I could walk alone in Minneapolis, but that was in 1974. However, when I was pregnant and 22, my grandfather told me to never walk to the same park I used to play at alone as a kid, even as an adult, it was more dangerous. I grew up in small towns mostly (Minneapolis was visiting grandparents), so I envy those of you living in safer places. Again, I really am sorry for my generalizing :-(.

14 8

Our school district doesn't allow any Kindergartener or First grader to walk home alone and as someone who works with kids, I have to agree with their policy. Better to be safe than sorry.

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14 25

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.

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Also, the PTA had an expert come to the school to teach the children (and parents) what to do if someone approached them. The person taught them some bike safety tips and exactly what to yell and where to go. It was very helpful as a parent, because I knew what to reinforce on our walk.

23 15

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.

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4 8

I'm not a big advocate of walking alone to school.. before Middle school.

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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.

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26 0

I think that's great. We also lived on a busy road (busier on the way to school rather than coming home) and it was actually safer to cross outside our house, than to stay on our side and cross 3 roads before getting to the school crossing, as that way he only had the one road to cross, which I always did with him.

1 1

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.

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9 61

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.

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0 19

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.

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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.

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Hi Akiyo, I lived in Japan and from what I remember, there was not as much crime. Rarely is a child involved in some of the horrendous crimes that happen in the United States. I realize it is many years since I was last there (1991), but the Japanese people have much more respect for the law and discipline is much harsher. I think it is difficult to compare this to children walking to school in the U.S because we hear every day of attempted and sometimes successful abductions. However, having kids in a group is always a good idea and that is what I try to instill in my own children. Even to go to a park in our neighborhood, there must be at least 3 kids and they have to stay together, play together and come home together. You have to be able to let your children assert their independence but it is tough being a parent and raising children when there seem to be so many people or things out in the world that could cause them harm.

1 19

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.

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6 21

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....

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btw - #1 is 10 and MILD autistic - easily distracted so it probably wouldnt be a good idea anyway... #2 is 8 - going on 18, I wouldnt even debate him walking to school if he could!! it would be nicer in a group.

1 19

i totally hear you! My 5 yr old son has ASD - as in high functioning or mild Autism as well. He is of the aspergers end. I totally would not trust him to walk to and from school without me. Not even with his sister who at 8 is quite able and very responsible. I couldnt trust him to listen to her for one plus his mind is easily distracted especially by drains which he loves to stop and put stones down! There are a good 20 or so between home and school! He simply wouldnt think to look for traffic. Hence as my post says we im now walking to school on the walking bus twice a week and picking them up every day after school.

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4 47

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.

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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.

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3 8

Not safe, I don't let my daughter walk home without me

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18 1

Any reason for this? to young, heavy traffic may be?

22 25

I don't think it is safe either for kids to walk by themselves. It isn't nearly as safe as it was when we were young which is really unfortunate. I have to take transit to get my son to school and I definitly would never let him do that alone until he is at least 12 or 13.

13,264 21

The whole question was WHAT AGE. Not whether it's blanket safe or not safe. Why do you not let your daughter walk anywhere alone?

1 20

Wow. 5? 7? 10? And defensiveness all around. We live three blocks from our local school and I would not let my son walk every day until he was at least 10 yrs old. He is an extremely independent kid... and so was I. When I was an independent kid in very small town mid America who could walk to and from school and everywhere else I was touched inappropriately (under my clothing) by a barely familiar adult very near my house, a victim of indecent exposure in front of my school, bullied by classmates along the routes and those were just a few of the things that happened while I was learning independence. I don't think putting a child who is too small to physically or emotionally defend themselves out on the street for others to prey on is really a safe way to teach kids to take on the world. Its not about making my son afraid or keeping him under my wing until he graduates high school. Its about making sure he isn't put in compromising situations before he is old enough to physically, emotionally and cognitively navigate them.

47 13

INDEPENDANCE is a very important lesson to teach all children, start small, but absolutely build up or your child won't be ready for the real world later on. That is, as long as they are old enough to understand basic stranger danger. You can test them, by the way.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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Excellant points here! I agree with you 100%. I was thinking about small towns I grew up in (we moved a lot, but always to other small towns, Dad worked for the government). One place we lived in was way out in nowhere land. Just a small neighborhood of 1 street, like somebody just planted it there in amongst the farms. This was in the early 1980's and there was a rapist-child killer they called "The Mummy Man." He wrapped his face in cloth. This guy was almost caught, you guessed it, on our street in the middle of nowhere! Sometimes cities can be safer than small towns, at least you have more chances of having witness' in a city...just a thought, I would never allow my 5 year old to walk around that same street alone, and it was really safe stranger wise, but there was a lake there too. Other things besides stranger abductions can happen too, and you can live anywhere...

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Again, I point out, Yelena, that not all parents have the same views. And, I also point out that I was one of the parents who taught their children safety and critical thinking skills, and my children walked from the age of 5. I also point out that not everyone lives in a situation where they feel uncomfortable about allowing their children to be alone, or go to/from school on their own. But, I also would like to say that both of my children, from the age of 7 or 8, knew how to run the gas stove, and cook simple meals. So I guess, I'm just a poor parent, in your opinion, because I take too many "risks" with my kids.

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In no way am I claiming anyone is a "poor parent" - we all are entitled to our opinions and are free to make our judgements on how we raise our kids. I do feel strongly, however, that we should take kids' developmental abilities/stages into consideration when we do make our judgements. They are capable of certain things at certain ages and while it is a curve, it is not fair to expect certain things of kids before they are developmentally ready (we don't expect a 3 months old to just get up and walk, do we?

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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.

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my kids are thrid and second grade where i kivei wont let them walk by themselves not even my 12 year old gets to

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meant where i live

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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.

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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.

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The problem with your statement is that you're assuming there are people waiting around every corner to abduct your child. That simply isn't the case. Most children who are abducted or molested are victims of someone they know and trust. Just because the news makes it sound like kidnappings happen all the time and your child is in danger whenever he isn't locked up at home doesn't mean it's true. If these things happened all the time they wouldn't be news.

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Actually about two weeks ago they caught a man trying to pick up middle school girls walking to school. He had tried to do this to four different children before they caught him in our neighborhood and then last year in our same neighborhood they caught another man trying to kidnap two children during a weeks time who were walking home from school. So to me that is worth putting on the news because it let us parents know to be on the look out for these predators and to protect our children. Like i said before it depends on the area you live. The town i grew up in was so small we didnt even have stop lights and hearing of a predator on the news was unheard of but where i live now its almost a monthly occurance and i think we should watch out for our children even if it means to overprotect a little more than you would if you lived in a safer neighborhood.

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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.

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To me, that is teaching a child to be fearful, and if we walk around believing we may be attacked, then the likelihood of it happening is stronger.

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By the time they are teens, they are driving. If you don't teach your children awareness of surroundings and how to take care of themselves in any situation, you are doing them a serious disservice. I'm not saying let your 5 yo walk alone, by any means, but you have to take into consideration your personal situation and area

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I think its just as viable to teach a child to take care of themselves WHILE walking them preparing them for when they're old enough to actually do it. I'm not teaching him to be fearful I'm teaching him to be aware and safe for later. I live in a small town but I'm not so blind that i think i can let him walk on his own without risk under the age of 12. There are many incidences of hit and run in the state of Ohio and even some in my own area. These cases don't involve children unaware of their surroundings but bad drivers not watching for children! I'm also not about to be one of those mothers who tells the police but he knows how to walk to school and how to take care of himself when they come to tell me they can't find him. By teen I mean 13-14 depending on his maturity level.

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I totally agree with you Amanda!

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Amanda - while it may be viable to you to teach a child to take care of themselves. there is no way in Hades I would let my child of any age walk to school by themselves - EVER! There is no safe 'age' at which to let a child walk to school alone. The world isn't what it used to be and it's not getting any better either. The question was with the word 'ALONE' at the end. Now, if the OP meant without adult supervision and with other kids around the same age or mixed age group, then it was not clearly stated in such a way. ALONE is a dangerous, reckless and completely stupid idea - that's why in my original response I said what I did and I stick to my convictions. There is NO SAFE AGE at which a child should be allowed to walk to school ALONE!

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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.

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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.

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i only allowed my children to walk to school alone when they started high school

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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.

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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.

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My children were only allowed to walk to school when they started high school. If they have any extra curricular activities I still pick them up.

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