Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Walking home from school
This term, we've started allowing our two older boys (one aged almost ten, the other seven and a half) to walk home from school by themselves on a couple of days each week. Their school is about five hundred metres from our house.
The first day they did it, Chris hid a little way up the road from their walking route and stalked them on the way back to make sure they were okay. They have one busy-ish street to cross on the way but the rest of the walking route is pretty quiet. They managed it fine. Last week, they walked home by themselves on two days. I'm letting them walk home alone today as well.
It dawned on me today that perhaps I should check out whether other parents of school aged children allow their kids to do this. So I visited a couple of parenting websites and found a range of opinions, varying from "not ever...you don't know what weirdos are out there these days" to "not until they go to high school" to "my daughter is in Year 1 and she walks by herself." The weirdo one made me stop and think for a bit. A year or two ago there was an abduction scare at our school. At that stage, the kids all had the stranger danger talk. I should probably do that again.
For us, it's been a matter of making sure the walking route they take is safe enough for them. The one road they cross can get busy around school pick up time, but Chris said they were really good at checking for traffic on the day he followed them. And it's not that far for them to walk. They get some exercise. A major bonus for me is that I don't have to wake up the baby and toddler to do the school run.
I used to walk home from school (much further than the boys do) when I was a kid. My dad was at work and my mother didn't drive. I remember getting lifts with people or my mother walking to school with us when we were little. Since I was the eldest, once all four of the kids in our family were at school, I had to make sure all of us made it home safely. There were some moments. Magpie season was challenging. We had to walk past a park on a busy road and there were a few times when we just had to make a run for it with our bags on our heads while the magpies were divebombing us from above.
When we bought our house, one of the things we liked about it was that it was within walking distance of school. It's good to finally take advantage of this feature and teach our kids to be responsible. They seem to like it that we've trusted them to do it as well.
That's not to say I don't feel uneasy about it sometimes. But I guess that's what growing up and allowing them some independence is all about.