You’re in the middle of your holidays, but you’re already thinking about the start of the new term: this september, your child will go to school on his/her own. How can you anticipate this big change?
When should children start going to school on their own?
There is no rule on the matter! It is more difficult to let go of our children nowadays: the world is – or appears to be – more hostile. That is why it is very unusual to see a child walking by himself before the age of 8. But it is not just because of the potential dangers of the outside world: it is also known that children are not physically capable of processing all the street information before they reach 8 years old. Traffic, cars coming out of garages, visibility… Their field of vision is not broad enough.
There are other criteria to consider: being able to walk to school alone is also a matter of maturity and interest for autonomy. If your children are reluctant to go to school alone, don’t force them. It’ll come naturally!
Finally, keep in mind that certain schools do not authorize children to come without an adult before a certain age or grade.
Have a go on a first journey alone
Holidays are the right time to test your child’s ability to walk to school alone. Of course, they’ve been travelling this itinerary for several years; ask them about the potential dangers on the way. Do they remember where garage exits are located? Do they spontaneously mention the good reflexes that you taught them (look right and left before crossing a street, avoid walking on the edge of the sidewalk)? Are they aware of how long it takes to walk to school?
You can also make it a full scale exercise: let your children walk five minutes ahead of you so you can oversee their behaviour in the streets.
The test is not successful? What can you do?
Don’t insist! If you child is between 8 and 11 and seems a little too unattentive or uncareful, keep on walking with him/her to school and reviewing pedestrian security rules together. When school starts in September, offer to walk with your child all the way to school, then leave him/her in the last third of the journey, then halfway, then after one third… You can try this for a few months and make everybody more comfortable!
However, if your child is getting close to 11 years old and is about to start secondary school, it is important that he/she starts being more autonomous. As a matter of fact, a road safety survey was carried out in September 2011 and showed a peak in the number of accident at that age. Part of the explanation lies in the fact that most parents take their children to school up until the end of primary school, which doesn’t encourage them to learn about road safety… Or gain self-confidence!
In this case, use the partial journey strategy and shorten the successive steps, or arrange the journey so that your child walks along with his/her friends. He/she should soon be independent…
In any case, you can make those first autonomous walks less stressful, for you and your child, with a Weenect Kids GPS tracker: you will know where your child is at any time, and he/she can get hold of you if there is a problem. Light and discreet, this GPS tracker is an alternative to the cellphone… which will soon be on your child’s wish list!