Reporter Seeks Parents Who (Gasp!) Let Their Kids WALK to School

…and have even taken some heat for it.

Alternatively, she’s also looking — though it may be hard to find them here — for parents who drive their kids the mere block or two. Or pick them up from the bus stop just down the street. Or…you know. Helicopter them to and from school.

Also: Does anyone’s Parent-Teacher Association auction off the prime drop-off space in front of the door? She’d like someone to talk to her about that, too. And she’s on a tight deadline so drop a line…soon! I will foward her your email addresses. Thanks! — Lenore

61 Responses

  1. Unless I’m missing something, it would be easier to contact her if contact information is given 😉

  2. I have lived within a half mile of school since my kids were in kindergarten (they are now in 4th and 3rd grade). We usually walk to school, and I have let the kids walk partially unattended since the middle of kindergarten.

    My son, the older one, rides his bike to school. My daughter walks to school with a friend. The friend’s mother walks them across a fairly busy street that has no crossing guard.

    When we had a crossing guard (when they were in 1st and second grade), I’d kiss em on the way out the door and let go by themselves. Yes, it made me nervous. Yes, I got over it.

    I did get some strange looks from some parents, but not many. We are in a very walking friendly town with almost no crime. It would really be idiotic to not let the kids walk to school.

  3. Does anyone’s Parent-Teacher Association auction off the prime drop-off space in front of the door?

    Yes. Ours does. It is the first parking space by the door, next to the principal and vice principal’s spaces. Oak Ridge Elementary in Conroe, TX. I’m assuming this intrepid reporter is…oh, say, maybe…you? 🙂

  4. Didn’t Abe Lincoln walk to school?

  5. No, Abe Lincoln didn’t walk to school. He rolled out of bed into school. 😉

    We live 3/4ths a mile from school. Now back in the same house I grew up in. We walked. There was no bus stop near us. Now my daughter has started school, and there is a bus stop very near to us. I let her ride it because she is still only 5 and I don’t have time to walk her to school and then get her brother to preschool, but I plan for them to walk when both are in school (she’ll be about 8; he’ll be 5 at that time). I’ll walk them the first couple of times, and then let them do it alone.

  6. We need contact information. 😉

  7. Our school auctions off the parking space. It is purely for the money the space brings in the auction. Some parents like to see their kid’s name in print. Car loop is still a quicker way to pick-up a child. Most parents who bid would still drop-off and pick-up in car loop.

    Our school is private Montessori school and draws from a wide area. We had two families who biked to work and would drop off or pick up their young children on their way. No children walk. Until this year when the clamor for keeping kids away from “those people” became too loud, we used the local park for play which entailed the 50 students crossing the road (gasp) with crossing guards, much adult supervision, a stop sign, and lessons in walking in a crosswalk and sidewalk and keeping an eye on your partner.

    However we do still encourage pairs of 9 to 12 year old children (sometimes with a 6 to 9 child) to walk 300 yards to the local grocery store to acquire supplies or snacks needed for the school.

  8. Where I live in the UK, the accepted norm is that when you start senior school at 11, you get yourself to school. Before that, people are usually accompanied.

  9. My 12 year old son bikes the one mile to his middle school.

    I had this conversation a few days ago at a birthday party of one of his friends.

    Other Mom (OM): My son tells me Alex bikes to school most days.

    Me: Yes, we don’t live far away.

    OM: It would be no trouble at all for me to stop by your house every day and pick him up and drive him to school.

    Me: Thanks but he enjoys the independence and it takes him less than 10 minutes to get there.

    OM: Are you SURE? I really don’t mind at all picking him up and driving him, if you are unable to do so yourself.

    Me: I could drive him, but this way he gets exercise, fresh air, and a feeling of freedom. Thanks for your offer, but the way we are doing it works out great!

    OM: ?????

    I could tell she way just confused as to why I didn’t take her up on her offer. But she was trying to fix something that just isn’t broken.

  10. We live 5 miles from school so my 10-year old daughter doesn’t walk to school but either walks or takes the city bus from school to my office. I’ve been questioned more by my father about her safety than anyone else. This from the man who let his own children (myself included) roam free at a far younger age! I’ve gotten a few “are you crazy looks” when I mention but nothing over the top.

    When filling out her transportation form, there was no option for “walker” since their definition is car rider/walker is a parent comes to the classroom to pick you up because our school doesn’t have room to do an afternoon car line.

  11. I started letting my son walk home from school last May – he was in Grade 1. The first day he was so excited that he told his teacher. She wouldn’t let him leave the classroom! She marched him down to the office and got the secretary to call me at home and on my cell (I was waiting in the driveway because we had to drive to get his brother from preschool.) The ironic part of all this? They were learning about “stranger danger” in school and how to keep themselves safe!

  12. Off topic, but…”stranger danger”…BLECH! Total crock.

    Kid: “Eek, a stranger!”
    Adult: “Hi, honey. I’m Bob! A friend of your mom’s. Want to see my new puppy?”

    Ta-da! Not a stranger anymore.

    (Apologies. The whole “stranger danger” thing just sticks in my craw.)

    Back to the regularly-scheduled commenting. 🙂

  13. My first grader would LOVE to walk the two blocks to school, but her school has a strict policy and she is not allowed to do it until she is the third grade. I have complained to other parents at the school since I can actually see her arrive at school from the end of my driveway, but they all look at me as though I am crazy.

    I’m not even supposed to let her join the pack of other kids and their parents who walk by our house every morning on their way to school – I have to personally accompany her every step of the way!

  14. I biked a mile to school when I was 12, and picked up my sisters from their bus 1/2 an hour later. My father came home an hour later or so.

    I’m still here, aren’t I?

  15. This is absolutely insane. I had no idea that it was this bad — that it was this common for schools to try to dictate how a child gets there. It’s bad enough for them to try to keep a child from leaving by herself, but to forbid her to walk there? What are they going to do, refuse her admittance if she shows up alone? (Not that I suggest you try it, but it’s silly.)

  16. re: thinkbannedthoughts

    How can they legally do this? Until your child is on school property, who are they to say where she goes or what she does. I understand that teachers are mandated reporters of suspected abuse but walking two blocks can hardly be considered abuse (although I know stranger things have happened) unless that two blocks is on the interstate!

  17. Heh. I know a mother who drives her son one block to the bus stop. I’m not sure she’d be willing to discuss it, though.

  18. My 3rd and 5th graders both bike to school, each with a different set of friends. It takes them about 15 minutes to cover the mile that winds through the neighborhood.

    Last year, I received a few calls from other moms who helped out when a bike chain broke or the kids were getting a ride home in the rain. No alarms, just being good neighbors and helping out.

    They love the independence and the chance to burn off some energy before and after school.

  19. Lenore, a while back I told you about the ‘bike bus’ program our school started. The video has been made of the whole process by Queensland Transport Department, so I will forward a link to you very soon. This whole program has also recently won our school A$40,000 from the Government for its initiative and they are promoting it to other states to follow for the health & wellbeing of our kids.
    It’s funny how some of the children that live near our school ride with the teachers & volunteer parents, AWAY from the school to the furthest pick-up point and then ride back to the school as more and more kids join onto the group. So the bike bus is not just about getting to school. It’s a fun social activity with a huge group of kids before school even starts…… and they are buzzing and wide awake by the time first class starts.

  20. I let my six year old daughter walk by herself to first grade. It is about two blocks. She even got stung by a bee the other day on her way and kept on walking to school!

  21. Our (private) school auctions parking spaces near the front entrance, but to be fair there are precious few spaces at all, and as a huge international school in a sprawling, pedestrian-unfriendly Southern city, practically everyone must drive. In the last year the school moved toward a compulsory carpool and parents are strongly discouraged from walking up to get their children, even for three year olds. (The building entrances are cordoned off during carpool now – you can no longer wave at your three year old’s teacher much less ask about the day.) It drives the ex-pats nuts, many of whom hail from walk-friendly European cities, and it’s all done in the name of ‘safety.’ And in a steamy hot climate, we are running our ACs on max setting the entire time spent idling in the carpool lines.

    (Regarding an earlier post, to volunteer in ANY capacity on campus – yes, even handing out cupcakes – one must submit to a background check PLUS complete a training course on spotting and preventing sexual molestation. There has never been an incident on campus, but one can never be too careful. *ahem*

    By the way, two years ago we witnessed one of the parking spots go for $13K.

  22. My older niece is agitating to walk by herself this year. She already walks to the corner store alone, the slightly further distance of school shouldn’t be a problem – except that she’d be essentially walking alone with her younger sister along a major thoroughfare for our neighborhood (especially during rush hour!), so her parents and I are just… not this year, honey.

    Last year there was some serious car madness for a while, with the street backed up several blocks because many of the kids in the school aren’t from the neighborhood – due to a weird quirk of zoning and all that, most of the kids are from another neighborhood some 20 minutes away. But after a few weeks they all got the concept – most of them let their kids take the bus, and those that do drive and pick up their kids park two or three or four blocks away and just walk over.

  23. I walked myself the half-dozen blocks or so to kindergarten. But I assume you mean my kids today.

    One rides the bus to elementary school. The other walks 3 blocks to middle school and back again, and has since she was 11. We live in a suburbian-city environment, about what I lived in when I was in kindergarten. Sometimes she walks with a friend, who lives a couple doors down, and sometimes she walks alone.

    I don’t fear that she’ll be abducted or anything like that. My greatest fear is that she’ll get into an accident, because some of the drivers along these streets are nutso-wacko. But she’s a safe and observant pedestrian, so I’m not worried.

    -TimK

  24. Lenore, pretty much every family on my street drives the very short distance to the corner to wait with their kids every day. I live on a dead end street that is one block long so I am not being flip. I am sure some of these parents would talk so your reporter is welcome to contact me and I can put them in touch with someone. Hopefully, they’ll get interviewed, see how ridiculous they are and free up my street twice a day!

  25. We live a little over a mile from our twins’ school. Two years ago, when they were 11, I started walking them to school in an effort to get all of us to exercise more. Over time I only walked with them half the way and they continued on their own. This year they decided it was time for a change and I now drop them off in the morning and they walk home alone. I agreed since they wanted to do at 13 what I was doing at 6.

    However before they could walk home alone I had to work out the details with the school. It seems that only 2 other kids had ever been allowed to do this and only a few of the office staff knew how the process worked. In the end I sent an email to the school office allowing them to sign themselves out. And I still need to drop by and sign the email to make it official.

    OK I do make them text me when they leave school and when they arrive home. So you can call me a recovering helicopter parent :-). But my husband is worse, I had to talk him into this.

  26. I’m scratching my head at this: the school wants us to pick up our kindergarten kid and take her to a second school during the day – they won’t provide a bus unlike another district for her full time aboriginal kindergarten – and they expect us to be in two places at once at 3pm to pick up the kids with 1 car. I offered that my 7 year old who has walked home by himself before be allowed to go home by himself and was vetoed. “We won’t release him,” I was told. Why not? Because its “not safe.” Both of us took longer to get to school when we went to school yet our son can’t walk the 7 blocks home because someone who doesn’t know our son has decreed that because he is 7 he can’t walk home on his own or be at home alone for the half hour at most he would be alone before either or both of us got home. So now I have to completely rearrange my schedule to accommodate two schools and some petty bureaucrat who has probably never walked home from school in their life and appease them. Yet, at the same time, there’s this huge push for more “physical activity” from kids during the school day, yet heaven forbid I allow my kid to walk home “alone.” I’m thinking of dropping the “full time” kindergarten for my daughter and just let her go to school half time, getting off when her brother does instead of having to be all over the city trying to appease a school board that doesn’t know what its doing.

  27. The school nearest our house is pre-K – 2 so bikes/scooters are not allowed. I had the same “walking” argument when my oldest was in 1st grade. Apparently, only 2nd graders are allowed to walk home alone. I can see the child the entire time, if I cared to look out the window.

    My alternative at that time was to leave the baby sleeping in his crib to walk over and get the 1st grader. Apparently another parent threatened to call DCFS (CPS in IL) on me for leaving the baby. When a friend told me I said to let her try it; in any event that baby was not being woken up – either I left him or the school allowed the older one to walk alone. Never heard another word about it.

    My 2nd child is in 1st grade this year & I was really hoping she’d want to walk alone just so I could argue with the principal about it. Alas, she’s not so independent and likes me to walk with her!

  28. North of 49, why can’t your kid be in full day in the same school? (And really, the school can’t spring for bus service midday? Seriously?)

  29. seriously. the province has has massive cutbacks in the education budgets and there are no buses. I’d like to see her stay at the school if they have an afternoon program which is what the kindergarten teacher last spring thought they were going to do with her. That would solve all my problems. But no. What if we didn’t have a car, what then? We just happen to have one, but that doesn’t mean a thing – DH needs it for his work. And I need to use a cane once the “bad weather” starts. The school is all uphill and is almost impossible for me to get to unless I have taken all my pain pills and have let them work their way through me enough. Nope. DS can not walk home even though I took a city bus (including a transfer) further than his walk is. He’s been wanting to walk alone to school ever since he was in kindergarten. And I would have let him too, cause that’s the type of independence that’s been lost, problem is that the school threatened to call CPS on me if I didn’t walk him all the way. And they did once, when I turned back less than a block from the school. I watched him cross with the crossing guard and he was fine. I gave CPS a piece of my mind.

  30. In Germany it’s normal that children walk to school from first grade (6 yrs) and many -including ours- walk with friends through the village. Some parents drive, but they are in the minority.

  31. Our 6-year-old will start school in a few weeks time. She won’t be walking as we’ve put her in a school that’s a 30-min drive away (because we want her in an English/French speaking school), there is no school bus and the public bus would require two changes and getting off at a stop on a busy 6 lane road so we won’t start her on that yet.

    But we do let her walk to the little family-owned store at the end of the road. It’s about a 3 minute walk but is out of our sight because it’s around a corner. She’s been walking there to get milk, bread, etc since she was about 5.5 years old. She loves it and is upset at the idea that her younger sister will soon be allowed to do it too! She is also allowed to ride her bike around the neighborhood unsupervised, our only rule is that she doesn’t cross that 6-lane road.

  32. My kids all walked to school starting in kindergarten. My four year old daughter also walked down to meet her older brother at school. So glad it’s a safe world.

    The cars line up in front of my house to pick up their children. If I wanted to go get them, I’d have to back out of my driveway and sit for 15-20 minutes right in front of my own home. These people all live in my neighborhood. All of them. Their children can ALL walk to school.

  33. I was walking to school (three blocks away) from the moment I entered Kindergarten, so it always seems odd to me to see our neighbor walking her grade-school kids to school two blocks away. Poor things. (And we live in a safe, residential neighborhood.)

    Our niece, a third-grader, lives four (short) blocks away. Because of a change in my sister-in-law’s schedule, she will often arrive home when everyone else is at work. We told my sister-in-law that she could come over to our house after school. However . . . my sister-in-law requests that we be waiting there for her at the drop-off spot so that we can walk her back to our house.

    There’s a 20-minute window during which the bus might stop, which means I (and both my young children) would have to stand out on their corner for up to 20 minutes waiting for the bus. I guess that’s fine . . . in September. Not looking forward to it in January’s sub-zero temps when I’ll have to bundle up both my own kids as well as myself and stand there in the freezing cold waiting for the bus.

    Guess I’m either heartless or lazy. Can’t she just walk four (short) blocks by herself to come over to our house when necessary? She’s in third grade.

  34. Now that I think about it, when I let my five year old ride her bike around the block by herself, she is actually riding her bike FOUR BLOCKS! (Gasp! I am a horrible parent!) ; )

  35. OMG… Soon it will be we the parents who will have to ask the teachers if we can see our chilren. Lol… DCYF hates home schooling parents. Sad and sick world we are in these days!

  36. RE: Michelle

    We alread do. We were informed at the start of this year that parents are only allowed upstairs (where the classrooms are) if they have an appointment or are attending a scheduled event.

  37. I was making my boys walk 10 years ago to grade school and middle school. I live in a far southwest suburb of Chicago and I consider the neighborhood relatively safe. My youngest walked with his older brother and his best friend only 5 blocks to school. One day a parent in a car (driving her child those 5 blocks to school) yelled at the friend because she thought he had flipped her off (he was only in first grade,) and my older son went to his defense and yelled back at her. When they got to school, my older son got a detention, I got a phone call from the principal and the friend’s mom started making him take the bus because it was “safer”. Yes, it was “safer” – from other parents! They were made fun of by the bus “riders”, but I told them to stick it out. They eventually rode their bikes to grade school and then middle school. The school district also had to install cameras on the buses as one of the students pulled a knife on another child. So, I don’t see how the bus was safer. My youngest is now a Senior and goes to a high school 12 miles away. I drive him in the morning on my way to work, and he has figured out the bus routes in the suburbs, uses them to get to home, go to the mall and go to his girlfriend’s. Both boys been “latchkey” children and survived – the youngest is an honor roll student and the oldest is a Junior in college. One last note: “helicopter” has nothing to do with transporting children short distances. It is a word describing the constant hovering to the point of stifling a parent does to the child; overscheduling activities, making sure all “free” time is productive and educational, overseeing much of every minute of their day. We think we are showing our love and giving protection. We need to let go a little and allow them to fall down and get back up on their own. I don’t advocate letting them run wild. It is our job as parents to give them boundaries while guiding them to make good decisions.

  38. here’s some refreshing news from my town today, a campaign to build safer routes for cycling and walking to school:
    http://www.jconline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2009909090338

  39. I’m just about to become one of those crazy people who drive my kid to the bus-stop! I know, I can hardly believe it….For the past 3 years the school bus has picked up my daughter from outside our gate. Now today, after the first-day-of-school bus never arrived, we found out that she has to get the bus 200 yards down the road, around the corner, and beyond a minor T-junction, because she is now going to a school in the opposite direction. I can see the virtue in the bus not having to double back to pick her up. It shouldn’t be a problem to walk that distance, but we live on a busy road with no sidewalks. There is no way to walk to the bus stop without walking in the road around a blind corner with 40mph traffic. So the only solution is to drive to the bus-stop (where fortunately there is space to park) (and continue to campaign with our local ped/bike association for sidewalks).

  40. Oh, and I would be willing to be interviewed as the parent who drives my kid one block (not because I’m being a helicopter parent though, but because I live in a pedestrian unfriendly neighborhood)…you have my email…

  41. My kids haven’t walked to or from school on their own yet (just started Grade 4 & Grade 3) but will be starting this year…much to the disapproval of my mother who provides my after-school care. She lives 5 blocks, straight shot, from the school. At the age of 9 there is no reason my daughter can’t do it (and she has been wanting to for a year). For the first block they will have the company of an entire daycare’s worth of children. It’s middle of the day, along streets that aren’t so busy that an abduction would go unnoticed (and really, if someone else wants to put up with the incessant talking of my son, or the hysterics of my perimenopausal daughter they can have ’em!). Plus with a police station part way….Yes my mother lives downtown however it is safer here than it is anywhere else in town. And certainly safer than the streets I used to walk to and from school every day when I was a kid. So I’m going to do it…allow my children to walk home from school every day….and my mother will probably succeed in making me feel very guilty every day that I do it too. Oh well.

  42. Oh and I’d be willing to be interviewd…I did drive my kids the block and a half to school for a long time when we lived in our previous town. I could see the school from the house but I still drove….everyone did. That was the thing to do!

  43. My school auctions off car line dropoff spots. They’re popular in winter!

    I just let my 10-year-old walk to school by herself yesterday. I got a couple of comments, but no one seemed to think I was way out of line.

  44. My daughter who just started Kindergarten rides the bus. The bus stop is at the end of our driveway, as we are the only house in the neighborhood with an elementary student.

    It is school policy that she is not allowed to wait for the bus in the morning alone until first grade, and “an adult” must be there in the afternoon, or they will not let her off the bus. So if I’m ever late standing outside in the afternoon, maybe because I’m playing with her younger sister in the backyard, she’ll be taken back to school and will have to wait there for me to pick her up. On the other hand, any other adult standing at our stop would be allowed to take her home with them. Safety First… freedom and logic second!

    Strange…

  45. My daughter just started Kindergarten. I drop her off in the morning and 3 days a week, she walks home with 3 older boys in our neighborhood. It’s about a 5 block walk with a few crossing guards. Yes, I was nervous the first day, but she’s a city-kid and knows to look both ways and she’s with older boys.

    Like Tim King, my biggest fear are the inattentive drivers.

  46. My son was tired of waiting for the bus up Sixth Avenue and decided to take the subway home by himself when he was 10. He survived and four years later he’s still getting around alone, now on the subway. After the first day of school yesterday, my 11 year old daughter told me not to bother taking her and her new friend to school, and I’m sure I won’t be picking her up next week. What a relief!

  47. My sons’ elementary school seems to have similar policies to Kate Sanfilippo’s school.

    My twins began kindergarten last week. They’ve been riding the bus since the second day of school. The pick-up stop in the morning is at the driveway across the street from our driveway, where there is a first-grader who also waits for the bus in the morning. Wednesday, I told my boys they could cross to the neighbor’s driveway to wait for the bus. The driver apparently told them they were not allowed to do that again without me. I am hoping he just assumed they did it on their own without my knowledge since they haven’t been waiting on that side before, so I plan to check with the school to see how best to bring it up to the driver since I don’t know if I should hold the route up in the morning to let him know I have faith in my almost six year-old boys to cross our residential two-way street and that I actually prefer they wait on the proper side of the road, where I can see them from my window since the bottom of our driveway isn’t visible.

    My school also says kindergartners will not be allowed off the bus if an adult isn’t waiting at the drop-off stop. Seems silly to think they can’t walk the 350 or so feet up their own driveway, which I will also address when I ask about the crossing road issue.

    I’d be willing to be interviewed, but I don’t know if the reporter would be interested in the bus-stop saga as much as the walkers vs. drivers aspect.

  48. Please blame the lawyers not the schools for the bus must release the kinder to an adult. Our school district started this policy after a neighboring district was sued because a child was dropped off and locked out of their house.

    No one kidnapped the child but they sued for pain and suffering because of the trauma.

  49. Unfortunately, our school does not allow the younger (under third grade) kids to go to school without an escort. They are met by a teacher’s aide daily for dropoff, and at pickup (be it via car or via walking), each parent (or designated adult) must have a color-coordinated card to insure that they are picking up the right child.

    The kindergarten for our whole town is housed in a building adjacent to our designated elementary school. This means that all kids of kindergarten age have to come here, as the school for the other side of town could not build additional kindergarten classes. Our town does not allow school buses (has to do with the number of kids actually needing bus service) so children must be driven to school.

    While driving might be justified for those living a distance, or dropping kids off en route to work, there are those who seem to be afraid (or lazy) to walk their kids, even for a short distance. I recall one mom who lived on the busy street near us that, rather than walk her child the quarter mile or so to school, drove her, then drove back to their house. (I used to watch this spectacle while waiting for my bus to work.)

    We live near the school, and can easily walk. Unfortunately, we are suffering the brunt of the numerous pickup/dropoffs on a daily basis. (My neighbors and I have to do battle with traffic, people using our driveways as turnarounds, etc.) Even with a crossing guard (and not one of the best ones) and a policeman, there is chaos. I had emailed the principal’s office (in response to a note about pickups/dropoffs) to suggest that the PTO implement carpooling and that the school should consider ‘walk to school’ initiatives. Have yet to get a response — does anyone know of any websites where I can get ideas for implementing a ‘walk to school’ program? Would also love to hear from those who have similar issues in their town.

  50. Babs – check out http://www.saferoutesinfo.org/ as it might help organize walking/biking to school.

    What I don’t get is how a school can dictate how you bring your child TO school. I understand that they can have their own dismissal/release policies at the end of the day because the students are their responsibility at that point. The school is not responsible for a student until they are on school grounds/bus/etc. What do they do if a child arrives at school without following their “rules”? Do they turn them away?

  51. Babs, try suggesting a walking school bus. It sounds more structured, so more reticent adults may like it.

  52. We drive both kids to school since we’re 5 or so miles away on county roads, we don’t have a bus option, and there are sidewalks for only about 3 miles of that distance.

    We do auction off a space. It’s not a prime space right next to school, though it’s close enough, because it’s in between the school building and the church building. The auction happens at a big parish fundraiser, so while it’s usually a parent who gets it, it could just as easily be someone who only attends church there.

  53. When we moved to the town we live in my son was 8 (3rd grade) and was accepted to the “gifted” program, which is held at only one of the town’s six or seven elementary schools. So he would walk about 3/4 mile to the neighborhood elementary to catch a bus to the one he attended. Before school started we walked/biked the route to the neighborhood school, made sure he knew which bus to catch, and told him to ask for help if he needed it. I was nervous for him since he was an anxious kid at the time who got frustrated/scared/upset easily, but he swell, no problem, and thought that I was being weird.

  54. My sixth grader walks to school. Is that too old for the purposes of the article? If not, feel free to forward my address.

  55. Both my brother and I walked to school since the first grade, but it was the two of us. That was about a mile. Those were some of my foundest memories. I do recall that the school had an overpass built over the busy road which was mandatory. I guess every parent has their own belief, I havent been back in the states for 12 years so didnt know about the whole issue. Just read a good column in NYT and sparked my interest. I will say however that it was different with my younger sis. Even though we lived 3 blocks away at our new home in a super safe neighborhood, she was escorted to the door. i do recall my brother and I finding it ridiculous. Interesting topic. The teathered generation.

  56. Learned that our town’s mayor is a big advocate of this initiative. Even before she was elected, our Mayor has been trying to get this into place, but not successfully. (She even went so far as to have pedometers given out at the schools.) According to what she told me last week (I had a nice chat with her at our block party), approximately 30-40% of the total school population ( in our town of less than 2 square miles total) WALKS. Sad.

    This week, we received a memo from the school promoting October as “Walk to School Month”. Wonder how many will consider this? Probably not many, as the traffic issues in our town seem to continue, without walking even being considered an option. (Tonight’s PTO meeting was proof of the pudding — even though we had a policeman discussing the issue and possible options, everyone seemed to be concerned about issues with regard to driving their kids.) I would like to get this going, but am not sure who I should approach first — the school principals? The PTOs of both elementary schools? If the mayor can’t influence much change, how can the general populace?

    On a somewhat related note: today I observed the ‘hovering mom’ syndrome while on my morning walk. A young girl (of high school age) was driven to the designated school bus stop by her mother. (She goes to one of the Catholic schools, as our public schools do not provide bus transport.) The stop was on a road which, while a two way road, is in a residential area. Mom waited until her child boarded the bus, then drove back home, not even 1/4 mile from the pickup spot. (I followed the car — but wasn’t surprised that this was the case.)

  57. I’m sorry, but I think you parents are naive and negligent to allow your children to walk alone to & from school.
    Do you people not watch the news or read the papers? Do you honestly not realize the number of children who are abducted while walking unaccompanied? I think some of you just use the “free range” crap as an excuse to sit on your lazy behinds at home instead of getting up off of your non-working behinds and walking your child to a bus stop or to school. I’m sorry, but this is absolutely ridiculous. Then when your child disappears, you’ll be all over the news crying and wondering how such a thing could happen. Well, I’ll tell you how it happens: you allow adults free range access to your kids. This ought to be a crime.

  58. Hi Lenore! I am really enjoying the site and have been reading past articles, thus the delay of my post. With regards to picking up a child whose bus stop is very close to the house. We do that. BUT it’s because if we are not there the bus driver REFUSES to let our 7-year old off the bus. I have tried on several occassions to ask the bus driver to drop him off where she would feel comfortable letting him walk home in case we’re not there, to no avail. I will keep trying, but I think, in some cases the ‘system’ forces helicopter parenting.

  59. I am 20, now, but since I was 5 (when I started school) I walked. I walked to elementary school, to the middle school bus stop (which was nearly 2 miles) and to high school (just down the street).

    I loved it. My older brother and I would run along playing as we went to school. I think half of this bunk about not walking due to safety – is because of only children. I had a sibling, even when we seperated to walk different routes on the way home to explore, I was fine. When I got older, I walked with my friends, my brother with his. Loads of fun, loads of excersice.

    On special days when I was real young, like the first day of school, my mom would walk us about half-way just so she could enjoy our excitement.

    Later, I dislocated a knee IN GYM CLASS AT SCHOOL, mind you, and I was given a pair of crutches, and hobbled home all by myself. I was 12. Boy, was my mother shocked when she got home. I hobbled in everyday until it healed. No rides – shocking, I know, ha!

    I live in Northern Ontatio, Canada. It gets mighty cold and snowy and you walk to school in the pitch dark – once again, we all survivied.

    Now, my neighbours (who’s kids are 9 and 11) live only about a half-mile from school, not even. They have this special van with dumb labels on it reading “school transport van” to pick kids who live in the walking range up to go to school everyday. It’s ridiculous. I can’t remember the last report of a child walking to school where I live being injured, but one of these vans plowed into a parked car last year, injuring everyone inside the school van. I mean, you can get hurt doing anything – nothing is truly 100% safe. You just have to understand the risk.

    If your kid walks, don’t let them be an idiot. I don’t own a cell phone – and the dumbest thing I have ever seen was a grown women walk into a busy street without looking while texting – idiot. Of, course a car nearly hit her, kids don’t need cell phones, or ipods to walk to school. They need to enjoy and observe what is going on around them. That is responsibility. Not strapping them into a car seat until they are 12 ( a law here if your kid is inder a certain height or weight) and having them watch the in-car DVD while you drive them about.

    Oh, I also ate peanut butter regardless of the peanut butter ban. I made my own lunches, I loved peanut butter – that’s that.

    Sorry, to have hijjacked the subject – it’s just so itrritating what school has become.

    What has become of childhood?

    Good on you to let your child walk.

  60. I was watching ‘Raising Cain’ on PBS last night, (http://www.pbs.org/opb/raisingcain/) and they mention an 11 year old boy who takes 2 buses and 2 subways to get to a school an hour away.

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