I don't want to be perfect, just better...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Safe to Walk: What is a good age to walk to school alone?

Princess is 8, she will turn nine in September as the new school year starts. When she got her bike for Christmas, I was excited (isn't that really mom-ish, I'm excited for her present) thinking that she could ride to school. 

The Hubbster gave me a quick reality check. No bike rack.

It did get me thinking, why don't they have a bike rack? and What age is a good age to begin walking to school unaccompanied?

I never had this problem. I always caught the bus to school. 

I did a little checking: In general, children are not ready to cross a street alone until age 10.* Ideally parents are a central figure in their children's safety education. Parents have the best opportunities to effectively assess their individual child's skills and teach safe behavior in the course of daily life so they should be encouraged to participate in their child's safety education. It is also important to emphasize to children that they need to check with their parents before walking or bicycling alone. Children may believe that because they have been taught how to cross a street, for example, that they are ready to do so on their own.

I see a lot of kids walking to Princess's school, some in groups, some alone and a few younger ones walking with their parents. 

The end of our street abuts the back of the elementary school. If she and Hubbster go through the rear, it is a five minute walk. If they follow the street around to the front of the school, it is a six block,  ten minute walk.

I found these safety tips on About.com

  • Pay attention to traffic at all times when crossing the street; never become distracted.
  • Always cross at the intersection where there are traffic lights; do not cross in the middle of the block.
  • Look left, right, and then left again before crossing; cross while keeping an eye on traffic.
  • Always watch for turning vehicles when crossing the street.
  • Remember that drivers may not see them, even if they can see the driver
I also found this tip from  Parentpedia by Disney Family.com

  • If your child walks to school, you can protect his back by making sure he's carrying his books properly. Choose a lightweight backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. If your child's backpack is heavy, have him use a rolling backpack. A backpack weighing more than 20% of a child's body weight can injure the back, neck, or shoulders.

Hubbster and I are still thinking it over but I am unsure regardless. See Princess is deathly afraid of dogs, especially large dogs. She has gotten better over the years but she will lose all of her reasoning skills if she sees a dog coming at her.

She has run into the street to avoid a dog before. Even friendly large dogs with tail wagging and tongue lolling will frighten her sometimes. 

An option I did think of would be to walk her halfway there.

What do you think? Do you let your kids walk to school alone? At what age is it appropriate to walk alone? Let me know your thoughts in the comments...

*National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Resource Guides

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