If your middle schooler is home alone after school . . . - Mothering Forums

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Old 11-24-2009, 12:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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How far away from you are they?

I think this is my 100th post about choosing a middle school/neighborhood for my child. Each week I make a new decision about where we're going to live and where DS will go to school next year.

Anyway, I found an option that, on paper and from talking to other parents, I really like. There are so many things about the neighborhood and the school that seem great!

But, it's 30 to 45 minutes from my work, depending on traffic. I work in a school myself, which means no flexibility, so he'd be arriving home each day to an empty house and staying alone for up to 3 hours (at least on the 2 days a week when there's no late bus and afterschool activities).

I can't decide whether this is a dealbreaker. I can't really imagine being 45 minutes away if something went wrong. On the other hand, if I can get over this, there would be so many advantages over any other neighborhood/school we can afford (the school is very diverse, with great arts programming, high test scores, lots of afterschool activities etc . . . and in a neighborhood where we could afford a house, with a yard for the dog . . . ).

What do you think?
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Old 11-24-2009, 01:55 AM
 
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I am also 45 minutes away from my middle schooler when he gets home from school. We live less than half a mile away from the middle and the high school but I work 45 minutes away from home. It has worked for us for two kids so far.

And I hate to be a Debbie downer but awful things can happen outside of school hours too. You could be around the block when a fire starts. When my oldest was 13 and youngest was 9 they were home alone when I was at an event with my 11 year old when we had a house fire.
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Old 11-24-2009, 09:54 AM
 
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It wouldn't be a dealbreaker for me, but I would try to put in some supports and safeguards, if possible. Things like routine phone calls, a couple of neighbours who can check in on him or he can go to if needed. If you are really worried, perhaps he can stop in regularly at an afterschool program, or with another family in the neighbourhood until you get home.

Will he be home after school daily? Middle schools don't always offer aftercare, but they often have extensive extra-curricular programs (drama, music, sports, robotics and science club etc.) that keep students busy for a couple of hours. If it's a really good school (and it sounds like it is), he may be busy 2 or 3 afternoons a week at least.

It all depends on the kid, and how trustworthy and level-headed he is. It sounds like a great opportunity, so if you can make it work, it's worth it. Good luck with the decision.
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Old 11-24-2009, 10:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks,

He'd be home probably 4/5 days. My mom has been picking him up one day and would likely continue.

There are afterschool activities that would get him to about 4:30 or 4:45 three days a week, which leaves him with an hour and a half, but no afterschool activities M or F.

I don't think there is formal after care once they leave the elementary school buildings -- at least I can't find it.

Part of the issue is that I don't live in that area now so I don't know any neighbors to ask. It's quite possible if we move in June (need to finish school year here first) we'd have tons of friends by August who I could ask -- but I don't feel like I can count on it.
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Old 11-24-2009, 12:25 PM
 
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My son started being home alone after school in 6th grade. I was 45 minutes away. He's in 8th grade now, I'm 10 minutes away, and his brother is home with him (9 year old.) He has never been alone for more than 2 hours. Most days its 1 hour. We have many neighbors who are home at that time -- several stay-at-home moms, a retired couple, and some college kids who rent the house next store. We've never had a crisis -- though he has forgotten his key a couple of times. (There is a spare hidden outside, and a neighbor has a copy as well.)

We also have aftercare options available. The middle schools bus to various daycare programs, and several of them have programs for kids up to 8th grade. My kids have hate that idea, and strongly prefer to look after each other. But if I felt less than confident having them home, then I could go that route.

How permanent is your job? My contract has the potential to change year to year. I'd rather choose my home and the kid's school based on their needs then to base those decisions on my job, which could change at any moment. Particulalrly because I also work in a school, and we seem to go through reassignment on an annual basis. Depending on what you do, maybe you could eventually be rassigned to his school?
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Old 11-24-2009, 12:27 PM
 
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Oh, the other thing to look at is whether or not there is a late bus for after school activities. If my son participates in after school activities, then I have to pick him up, which can be a real hassle.
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Old 11-24-2009, 05:16 PM
 
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I think 2-3 hours home alone after school would get lonely fast. Would he be completely alone? Are friends allowed? I was an extroverted kid and ds is also very extroverted--so that is just my perspective. An hour would be fine, but if it's closer to 3 hours, in our family, that would not work.

Mother is the word for God on the hearts and lips of all little children--William Makepeace Thackeray
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Old 11-24-2009, 09:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mamaduck View Post
How permanent is your job? My contract has the potential to change year to year. I'd rather choose my home and the kid's school based on their needs then to base those decisions on my job, which could change at any moment. Particulalrly because I also work in a school, and we seem to go through reassignment on an annual basis. Depending on what you do, maybe you could eventually be rassigned to his school?

Being reassigned to his school isn't really an option since my specialty is very young children with disabilities, and there aren't any of those in middle school. Being hired by his district might be possible, but it certainly wouldn't be easy -- there's a state line involved so it would mean new coursework and tests and certification. I'm also not convinced I could get a job like my current one (a special ed admin position) without having proven myself in their system, and I'm really done teaching.
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Old 11-24-2009, 10:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by heartmama View Post
I think 2-3 hours home alone after school would get lonely fast. Would he be completely alone? Are friends allowed? I was an extroverted kid and ds is also very extroverted--so that is just my perspective. An hour would be fine, but if it's closer to 3 hours, in our family, that would not work.
He'd have the dog (OK, not sure that counts). In theory I can think of certain kids I'd be OK with him having over, and others that I wouldn't but of course those specific kids wouldn't be moving with us. (OK, maybe 1 kid, compared to many kids I do object to) Whether he'd make a friend in the summer who has a parent who doesn't object to them playing at a house with no adult AND who I don't object to being at my house, so that we'd have a plan for the beginning of school -- that's a big "if" as they say.

He's kind of in the middle in terms of extrovert/introvert, loves to play with other kids, but frankly can veg out in front of the TV on online pretty happily. I sort of imagine him coming home, finishing his homework, playing with the dog, and then watching TV until I come home.

It would be 1, maybe 2 "long days" where he'd be home somewhere around 2:45 and I'd be home at 5:30 at the earliest. Whether it's one or two would depend on whether my mom still took him one day a week. Then 3 "short" days from maybe 4:45 to 6:00.
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