When parents feel that their child is ready to walk to school alone, it can be nerve-racking. Prepare your family for this new milestone with these tips.
The parent is the best person to determine when a child is ready to walk to school alone. While there may be some federal guidelines, every parent and child is different. If you feel that your child is ready to walk to school alone, it’s best to follow some simple steps to ensure it’s a smooth, stress-free process for both parent and child. Below you’ll find some tips on what to do when your child is ready to walk to school alone.
What To Do When Your Child Is Ready To Walk To School Alone
Never allow age 10 or younger to cross street alone
If your child is 10 or younger, but you still feel they’re ready to walk to school alone, be sure that you don’t allow them to ever cross the street alone. It’s best to set a route to walk to school alone for younger children that doesn’t involve any street crossing unless an older sibling is with them. Set this rule beforehand so that your child will know what you expect them to follow for safety rules and what consequence will happen if they do not follow this rule.
Educate child on street signs
There are many street signs that your child will pass when walking to school alone. Be sure to educate your child on safety signs so that they can recognize what each sign means. This will make you feel more confident allowing your child to walk to school alone as they’ll be prepared to follow the laws of the road while walking on their own. You can point out various street signs while riding in a car with your child during your everyday travel with your children to fully educate them.
Set up a route
Now that you’re ready to allow your child to walk to school alone, it’s best to set up a route that you want your child to use when walking to school. You may even take a couple mock walks to school with your child so that they know their designated route to school when walking alone. If there are alternate routes between home and school, be sure your child knows which ones are allowed and which ones are not allowed to be used to keep safety in mind.
Give your child some rules
Remind your child about stranger danger and not going near any vehicle of a person who they don’t know. Be sure that you review all regular child safety rules that they’ve learned about their entire life. Review the safety practices of walking alone to school, such as looking both ways before crossing the road and the location of your local police department or a safe adult they can run to should danger arrive while your child is walking to school alone.
Consider a basic cell phone
Children are getting cell phones younger and younger these days. You can get your child a cheap flip phone without any of the bells and whistles. This phone can be used for communication with family and in emergencies. If you get your child a smartphone, be aware of the apps and media that they can be exposed to. On the plus side, there are apps for geo-fencing and alerts that can work in a parent’s favor.
Set up a group walk
If someone is available to walk with your child the first few days, test out the route first. Then see if you encounter any other families on the same route. Then with some planning, your children can at least have a group to walk with to ease the transition. Join the PTA or school parents facebook group to see if anyone else could join your group walk.
Have them check in regularly
Have them call, text, or email you as soon as they get home. it should be part of their regular habits. You can also instal a video doorbell like this if you know your child procrastinates on contacting you.
There is no magic age for a child to be ready to walk to school alone. That decision is left to the parents. The key to being calm and comfortable with your child walking to school alone is to ensure you follow each of the steps shared above. This helps minimize any unnecessary dangers, remind your child of expectations as well as rules and consequences and it will ensure your child knows where the local police and other safe adults can be located should trouble arise. These steps will ensure that you feel confident and comfortable allowing your child to walk to school alone.
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