I’m sure you have heard of Kathy Buckworth before, she is an award winning writer, public speaker, spokesperson and television personality.
Yesterday, Kathy spoke on CFRB 1010 Radio on the topic of children walking to school independently. I was also privy to a group discussion on this exact topic which got me thinking about my own children.
Recently, I have found myself questioning how much independence or lack of independence I am giving my daughter who is about to turn 9 years old. I think back to when I was 9 and I was walking to school (a 15 minute walk, including a somewhat major intersection) and I was also responsible for walking my sister home from Kindergarten after school. I know that I played outside in the front of our house by myself too.
What are your thoughts on what age can children walk to school independently?
Just like many things in life, I truly believe that there is no answer that fits everyone! Each child and family is different and has a different set of circumstances. Many factors must be taken into consideration. Parenting expert Alyson Schafer said it best (in my opinion):
Factors to Take into Consideration when deciding what age can children walk to school independently:
- size and number of intersections to be crossed
- maturity of child
- number of children also walking the same route
- Will someone be home when the child arrives after school?
- experience with independance
So the question is, if there isn’t a magic “right age” for when children can walk to school independently, how can we ensure that our children are prepared and how will we know?
I believe that you will know when your child is ready when you see the maturity level in them and they have had experience showing good judgement when they are given independence.
How can you prepare them?
- Start small.
- Provide your child with shorter distances to walk independently.
- Talk to your child about street safety.
- Causally quiz your child with specific questions like “What would you do if….”
How old are your children? Do they walk to school independently?
Where do you stand on this topic?