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When to let them walk home by themselves?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I think I still have awhile yet, DD is only 4 and will start preschool full-time in September. I'm a really big fan of "idle" / "benign neglect" parenting but I know she is too young to walk home from school (it's about a 10-15 minute walk) but I do want to prepare her to be independent but I don't know when realistically she will be ready or how to prepare her for it.

Should I just wait till she asks? When did your kid start to walk home from school & how far away was it (or did you let them go to the park/friends house themselves etc.)? Did you "do" anything to see if the child was ready or prepare them for it? Just looking for some input, thanks.
post #2 of 11
I'd say about 7-8 for a 10-15 minute walk. I let dd go around the block at age 4 (and was considered wildly permissive by my neighbors).

Ds is 9 and I would let him go to the park by himself, but I'm not so sure about dd (6). The park is about a 5 minute walk away. They're free to go down the block and play with the neighbors, but the park has older kids who hang out there, and I'm not as comfortable.

I would easily let ds and dd walk to school by themselves next year, if they didn't have to cross an extremely dangerous street -- there are regular accidents at the corner where they need to cross and the school doesn't want kids walking unaccompanied. So much so they provide a bus to our neighborhood, even though it's less than a 10 minute walk!

Ds is quite cautious by nature and doesn't want to go far by himself. He's got a new friend who roams a bit further, so we might have him be able to go further this summer.
post #3 of 11
It depends on the environment, the time of day, the kid involved, etc. Read the guide from Safe Routes to School.
post #4 of 11
i think for me personally 10 or older depending on their maturity level, I'd let my 7 year old (now 8) walk home on his own from the bus stop which is about 15 houses down the street

not sure about a 10 - 15 min walk though!
post #5 of 11
i guess 10 is a fine age. otherwise you'd feel uneasy thinking about his/her safety.
post #6 of 11
There is no one right age. You have to consider the personality of the child, and how vulnerable the child looks. You need to evaluate the walk itself. Are there busy streets, is it near dangerous areas? You need to find out if there would be any classmates also walking so s/he would not be completely alone. Etc.
post #7 of 11
I agree with some of the other posters that it really depends on the kid, even in the same family. When my ds#1 was in third grade he rode his bike about a mile down a very busy street to go to soccer practice. One of his sibling had another activity going on and I just couldn't get him there/back a couple times and all the other kids lived in the opposite direction. He did fine. When ds#2 was 4 he thought I was taking too long to get his sister around the block and across a very main street so he grabbed the keys locked the front door, and came to get me. He was fine. My dd is the oldest at 16 now and it still makes me nervous when she walks to school because she reads while walking and she has almost walked into me too many times to count when I have stopped to pick her up.
post #8 of 11
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the replies, and the link! The walk itself is not dangerous, no busy streets or anything and the neighborhood is nice (small town). I think I was walking home from school pretty early but it was only 2 blocks to my mom's store, then maybe another 3 to get home. I'll have to ask my mom how old I was when I started.
This would be like maybe 8-9 blocks from home. It takes 10-15 minutes 'cause we have to stop and pick up EVERY leaf/twig/rock/feather on the way. If it's just me the max is 10 minutes. I don't remember how I started to walk home by myself, it must not have been that traumatic of an experience since I don't recall it.
post #10 of 11
My oldest son walked home from 1st grade this past school year, starting at 6.5. It was a 0.4 mile walk and he could do it in about 6-7 minutes.
I biked to and from 1st grade and it was over a mile. The older neighbor boys usually rode with me though.
My son is very capable and safety-aware, and he never had any issues walking to and from school all year long. My younger son is 4.5 and I don't know that I'll think he's ready at 6 (and anyway, we moved and the school where he's starting K this fall is over a mile down a busy road, so it's not practical at all).
post #11 of 11
Don't forget to check your child's walking route for sex offenders. I was walking to and from grade school by 4th grade and had to cross busy streets. I was quite mature and capable at that age and I still got hit by a car when crossing the street. I'm not sure I'd comfortable letting my 6 year old walk anywhere without me. I'm not sure when that will change.
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