The first time your child walks to school alone is a daunting experience, both for them and for their parents. Although there is no legal minimum age, it’s up to parents to use their best judgement regarding an appropriate time for children to start walking alone. There are lots of factors to consider, as explored by a private school in Hertfordshire below.
There are obviously lots of benefits for children who walk to and from school; they get plenty of fresh air and exercise and it can encourage independence and confidence. What’s more, it frees up parents’ time so that they can get off to work without being late or negotiating different hours. However, there are also some safety concerns, which what sparks the debate regarding an appropriate age.
You need to start by thinking about how mature your child is. Do they understand the rules of the road and are they aware of ‘stranger danger’? Every child is different and while one might be extremely mature at the age of 10, another might be quite childish and silly, in which case it might not be the right time for them.
Does your child have a mobile phone? Using GPS technology, you could keep track of your child via their mobile phone so that you can check they made it to and from school safely. Having a mobile phone will also make it easier for your child to get in touch with you or another responsible adult, should there be any problems on their commute.
Another thing to think about is the commute itself. Do lots of other parents and children take the same route to the school every day or is it a completely secluded trip? Are there any dark alleyways or are the roads well-lit and well-paved? If you don’t like the thought of your child walking this route alone then it’s probably not the best idea; trust your gut as a parent.