Thursday 16 September 2010

Do your kids walk to school alone? What age is the right age?

I’ve seen lots of discussion recently around what age you should let your kids walk to school or out on their own. Recently there was uproar in some quarters when a couple in London allowed their 5 and 8 year old children to ride their bicycles to school alone.  I have to admit to being in the disapproving crowd but I’ve been thinking a lot about if I have the right attitude.

I think things are very different now than they were when I was young.  We all played in the street or fields together without anyone worrying where we were. I was allowed to go to the shops with my friends but it wasn’t a massive issue as everyone on the Estate knew each other and you still got told off by other people’s parents.  From the age of seven I refused to let my Mum walk me to school and made her stand at the end of a very long road and watch me.  She could see me most of the way but for the last 5 minutes I was completely on my own.  She recently told me that she used to worry all day until she picked me up at the school gates about whether or not I made it!

Chick doesn’t have any of this.  We live quite a way from school over several major roads and I wouldn’t let her walk on her own.  I don’t mind if she wants to bike or scoot and not be right next to me but she has to be able to see me and we have to cross the major roads at the same time.

She also doesn’t get to play out in the Street at our house.  We live in the ghetto in between two different drug estates on a relatively busy road and I don’t feel that it’s safe for her. There are also no other children on the street.  The one saving grace for us is that her two best friends live in cul-de-sacs and when she stays with them they get some freedom and are allowed to go and play anywhere within certain boundaries.

Having said all this, I do think that Chick needs to be given some freedom to learn to deal with crossing the road alone etc so this morning I let her go to the shop all on her own!!!!!!  I’ve never been so scared in my entire life but we live literally a 30 second walk away and she knows the shop keeper!  I kept the front door open the whole time and told her to yell if anyone grabbed her and I’d be there instantly.  I’m not sure I’ll be letting her walk to school anytime soon but we are taking baby steps towards her being confident enough to do this when she moves up to the next school!!!

So what do you think?  Do your kids under 10 walk to school or the shops alone?  Do you never let them out of your sight without another adult or do you think that we are all far too over protective??  I’m very interested to know what people think.
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