Do You Let Your Kids Walk to School?

If so, TV is calling!If you might be interested in seeing your child on network TV, drop a line to Gwen.Gowen@abc.com . She’s doing a piece on — obviously — letting kids walk to school and needs some “real world” examples. Thanks! — L.

41 Responses

  1. If she needs some real-world examples from across the Pond, walk on over. Lots of children on our street head off by bike and foot, though most don’t go alone till aged 10 or so.

  2. It’s a sad commentary on today’s culture when kids walking to school becomes newsworthy–and the media needs to put out a call to find “real world” examples.

    Probably most of the adults who watch the segment were once kids who walked to school while assuming it was as natural as breathing.

  3. I can’t yet – until our new school is built, school is a couple of miles away. Fingers cross – fall 2011! That was the whole reason we moved where we did!

  4. How did we mess up our civilization to the point that “kids who walk to school” would be worthy of a news piece?

  5. I’m sad to say my daughter no longer walks to school. Or rides her bike. No, we drive her. In our defense, it’s 8+ miles to school along major roads (Google Maps says that’s almost a 3 hour walk). School quality issues. But when she was going to school at the end of the block, it was walking every day.

  6. though you may like this. I can’t find your email address to send it to you.

    http://pruned.blogspot.com/2010/04/playtime.html

  7. In my neighborhood, it’s unusual for a kid to walk to and from the bus stop. I cannot understand it. When the kids are not dropped of at their door, there are cars (well, mini vans and SUVs) 4 and 5 deep to pick up the kids from the bus stop. They are being driven at max a whopping a block or 2. And this is in a quiet neighborhood, side street area, on beautiful warm sunny days. Again, it’s no wonder there is an obesity problem.

  8. I would love to, but my son is only 7 and to get to school he has to cross the street where all of the parents dropping off their kids drive like insane maniacs – no crosswalk, no light, no speed bump, just parents swerving, rushing, not paying attention to the road, etc. When he gets a bit older and I am sure he can assess the risk of insane parents driving I will definitely let him.

  9. My 10 year old walks to school. All of my kids have walked to our elementary school. Of course it is only 3 doors down and my back yard overlooks their ball field.

    Now the MS/HS is on the other side of town, so they ride the bus but walk home from the elementary.

    Sorry this isn’t very helpful.

  10. My six year old walks to and from school with no problem. Next year he will walk his little sister to his school where she will get on the bus to go to her French-Immersion school.

    Some people think he is too young, but he is mature and responsible and for the first half of the year I walked him myself. Once I figured out the route was safe and he was ok, I started shortening how far I would walk with him.

    I had to write a special letter to his teachers giving him permission to walk home alone, though. They wouldn’t let him go otherwise.

  11. Kids everywhere in Germany walk to school, take their bikes, take the bus, the train, whatever.

  12. My daughter is 8, and doesn’t walk alone yet. Her sister is 6 and so I have to walk to school anyway, but the main reason is because the road is narrow, cars park all the way up the corner, and mums who drive their kids to school are always running late and driving too fast as they desperately search for a parking spot. I just can’t quite let go yet!

  13. Mine won’t be able to.😦 the school is 10 miles away. Hopefully he will be able to ride a bike, though.

  14. Our boys started biking to school every day in sixth grade, age 11. They were in jazz band, which started at 6:45 am, so this meant riding in the dark, and often pouring rain, with a light on the helmet and a red blinker on the backpack. The younger carried his trombone in a trailer and the older strapped his trumpet on the rear rack. Its only 1/2 mile, but my younger son’s friend was never allowed to walk or ride, even in bright sunshine, but be driven by his mom, and wait in the conga line to get dropped right in front of school. My son would race them to show how much faster it is to ride than drive! Now he rides his bike to high school, and the same kid is allowed to drive his own car ONE MILE to school, taking twice as long as riding a bike. Go figure.

  15. My daughter walks with me, only because she doesn’t want to walk alone yet. I’ve warned her that one of these days I’m going to make her try it. But in the meantime it’s a fun time to talk.

  16. Mine do. They are 8 and 9. Feel free to contact me if you wish.

  17. Or I’ll write her myself. LOL. Reading is goooood. ;p

  18. She should come to Sacramento, CA — my school district is eliminating all busing next year, so we are implementing a district-wide “walk safe” program.

  19. I wish my son could! He would totally love to🙂 Unfortunately, he’s in a private school for kids with autism and they don’t allow any of the kids to walk to schoool, not even the 18 year olds! Everyone gets bussed/driven/taxi’d into the grounds every day and the same to go home. I guess I can understand it in this instance, because the kids have special needs and who knows where they might end up instead of at school if left to their own devices, but once my son mainstreams back to public school, I hope he gets to walk🙂

  20. We walk my son to school every morning. He is only four, so a bit young to go free range, but since we live in London, we all walk him to school with my husband heading off halfway to catch the tube. We walk everywhere and I dread moving back to the States and having to go everywhere in a car. My children hate riding in cars. They declare it as being boring and ask why we can’t walk anywhere when we are in the States. My two-year old walked a mile through Kensington Gardens with me yesterday and then played football for an hour. Long live walking!

  21. My boss’s children attend Mt. Lebanon school district in PA, and (shock!) they don’t bus, or use public transportation. Every child in the district walks to their school, starting in kindergarten. People move to the area b/c it is considered one of the better districts in the area, despite all the walking and plain old exercise these kids get. They also allow (at least they used to, not sure now) the children to leave for lunch. When I was younger (30 now) the district didn’t even provide lunch. You either brought a bagged lunch or went home to eat.

  22. I’m in Australia or I’d sign up even though we only live about a 3 minute walk to school. My 5, 7 and 9 year olds all walk themselves to school. I walked them for the first 3 weeks when they were in Kindergarten, only because they left school earlier than everyone else and weren’t allowed to leave without me there! Had to then let them know with our first that she would be walking home alone after that. With the others one of the elder kids grabs them on the way through, and then the race is on to see who gets back first. Usually the 5 or 7 year old, because our eldest daughter likes to have a chat with her friends before coming home.
    Even though we are so close to school, our neighbour still walks his Year 3 kid to and from. Neighbour on the other side walked her daughter all the way up to Year 6 and now walks her the same distance the opposite way to drop her off at High School!

  23. Oh, and my son used to ride his scooter or bike in Kindy, age 5, however the school let me know that it’s not acceptable for a kid to ride alone to school until they are 8. School policy. Poor thing was really upset when I told him he couldn’t do it anymore.

  24. My boys have been walking to school together for over a year now. I doubt it is very exciting since they walk maybe 1/3 mile and lots of kids walk as well.

  25. My daughter (8) started walking to school alone in August when she started 2nd grade, age 7 at the time. I was totally paranoid since the other kids in the neighborhood are a few blocks in a different direction or are much older than she is, so I made her get a cheap prepaid cell phone, just to let me know she made it to school ok and when she was leaving school in the afternoon.
    I have to say that now I feel like an idiot because heaven knows I walked at that age much farther than the 3 blocks along a slight a curve that she walks.. but she still has the cell phone so I can track her down when I need to and she’s off riding her bike with friends and losing track of time… so while I feel a bit ridiculous allowing an 8 yr old a cell phone, I feel better knowing that I have a way to find her when she’s simply forgotten to check the time, or when she wants to stay home while I take a quick trip to the gas station or whatever.
    The girl is smarter than she looks, and I think that’s true of most kids, but many people tend to forget that.

  26. My kids have walked to and from school (6 blocks) for the entire year. They started when they were 5 and 7. I had many parents give me “the look.” However, I have confidence in my kids and have raised them not to be complete idiots! I feel like children today are not trusted by their parents to do anything for themselves and as a result, have no self-reliance or any ability to problem solve without adult intervention. I am so glad I found the Free Range site!

  27. Umm…I live across the street from the elementary school my kids will attend in a few years. How else are they supposed to get to school? Shall I pile them into my car and back out of my driveway so that they’re 10 feet closer to the school’s door? How stupid that this is an actual news story.

  28. My kids have been walking to school on their own since March. They are 7, 8 and 9. I was a little iffy about it for awhile because of the traffic. They have to go through 3 intersections in our neighborhood of Chicago and the drivers just don’t pay attention, especially the parents dropping their kids off at the school. But the school is only 3 1/2 blocks from our house and it seemed silly to keep walking them. Now they go on their own but I still have to walk over there every afternoon to pick them up because the school will not let them leave without an adult unless they are in 5th grade (my oldest is in 4th grade). Ridiculous.
    Even more ridiculous is the woman that lives directly across the street from the school entrance and walks her 5th grade daughter across the street and onto the school lot (while holding her hand) every single morning and then does the reverse in the afternoon. she lives just feet from the school.
    But around here, at the public schools, it’s normal to see kids walking to and fro on their own. Most kids in 2nd grade and above walk themselves or with older siblings/neighbors. I think most of the schools in our part of the city are like that.
    Heck, I was watching the news this morning and there was a shooting at an elementary school on the south side last night (the kids are going to be okay). There were extra cops out all over but you could see in the background that most of the kids arriving for school were still walking on their own, no parents in site. It’s a crappy, scary situation but life goes on. In a few days those cops will be gone and those kids will still be walking themselves to school.

  29. Not only do I let my 10 year walk home from school, she is allowed to *make her own decision* (gasp) if she will walk home from school with friends or ride the bus. She does have a cell phone with her, and sends me a text message to let me know if she is walking. And she is required to have at least one friend walking with her.

    And if it starts raining – which happens here in the Seattle area – she’d better walk faster.

  30. Quick! Contact somebody! Anybody in authority! Children walking home from school on railroad tracks and the only adult in the shot isn’t even looking!

  31. Walking’s a no-brainer for us: we live a short hop away from school. Amazingly, a number of parents (and SAHMs at that) still insist on driving their kids to/from school. On occasion, some do walk, but why not make it a habit? The only ones I’ll give slack to are the moms dropping kids off en route to work.

    I’d love to do the ‘walking school bus’ thing, but apparently our PTO didn’t think highly of it (someone from the mayor’s office had brought it up sometime ago, from what I’ve heard). Buses are not part of the school budget — supposedly, everyone is situated near an elementary school within walking distance of their homes.

    And some parents still insist on walking their kids to/from school, even when they seem to be old enough (my neighbor across the street will still walk her 9 y.o. and 6 1/2 y.o., rather than just let them go on their own). Not sure when I will be letting my daughter walk on her own, but probably a bit sooner than 9!

    @Ellen: would love to hear what you are doing re: a district-wide ‘walk safe’ program. I feel that where I live, it’s going to need a heavy handed effort just to convince people to buy into it. I want to do this but have no idea where to start.

  32. My girls, aged 7 and 5, walk to school together. Occasionally, our neighbour’s 6yo will walk with them if they happen to be out getting into the car as I’m waving goodbye to the girls.

    It took me a while to be comfortable with it, not because I think something bad will happen, but because I worry about incurring the wrath of other parents/teachers about my apparent irresponsibility!

  33. My son walks home from school on his own sometimes, or rides his bike. He’s 10 and it’s 1.6km, or about a mile. I usually go with him in the morning. My main worry is traffic at the main road – a roundabout with no pedestrian crossing space and a lot of traffic in the morning. The afternoon’s not so bad and he’s been walking since kindy so is pretty good with traffic. He’s been pulled up a few times at school for leaving on his own though.

  34. Not everyone who walks their kid to and/or from school is being a helicopter parent. There are a couple of Mom’s at my school who do this. One is trying to lose weight and having this as a regular schedule helps her.

    The other works nights. She gets home and gets her kids up, dressed, and fed. Walks them to school. Goes home and sleeps. Then she gets up comes to school and walks home with her kids. She intended just to do this for a few weeks, but found that she was having great conversations with her kids. (Husband works days so he is hone with the kids at night.)

    The kids do walk by themselves from time to time with no problems.

  35. @Kimberly – Great point about the “quality time” of walking your kid to school. It’s a great way to see your neighbors too. Plus the crossing guard catches us up on all the neighborhood news. When a girl I knew switched to a school across town and had to take a bus, her dad told me the one thing he missed is the special time alone with her walkng to school every morning.

  36. Susan2, it’s so true! My middle schooler now walks to school by herself since it’s just a couple blocks away. The bus stop is not much farther for my younger one, but he likes me to walk him each morning & afternoon. We miss the middle schooler now that she leaves & comes home before us each day.

    I don’t care if it’s seen as hovering by some, I’m not giving up walks to bus stop. It saves me time (dog & I both get exercise), gives me a few minutes to chat with other parents in the neighborhood, and is some of the most enjoyable time I have with my youngest each day. I’d love for my youngest to be able to walk or bike to school but the distance and traffic is unreasonable, even with an adult escort. As an adult, I hate biking in that traffic!

  37. i don’t mind for my kids to walk to school but my son eventhough he’s 13 and goes to middle school i still have concerns not because i don’t want him to walk but because he has to cross a very busy street. we live 1.8 miles away from school and our school district has a 2-mile radius policy for bus transportation. there is actually a bus that drops by at my daughter’s elementary school (she walks to school) and goes to my son’s school but he’s not allowed to get in the bus.

  38. Sorry, I am one of those helicopter mom’s. I have 3 girls aged 13, 5 and 6. I did not let my 13 year old start walking home by herself until age 12. Even now I speak regularly about the dangers in this world. I do not let her walk the same route daily and she has to try at all times to walk with someone. She also has to call me when she gets to school so that I know she got there safely. She forgot once and I called the school and made her call me back. I never let her get too comfortable with her safety. @ Donna, that is ridiculous that your son cannot ride the bus that stops at your daughters school. What school district do you live in?

  39. Remembering the 1970’s – when we were all ‘free range’.

    Sad.

  40. I think most of you are lucky to be comfortable letting your kids have the freedom to walk to school alone. I checked out the comments to get some different opinions on when kids are ready. Unfortunately, I am one of “those” moms who would drive even if it is faster for my son to bike.
    I respect the choice to let kids go on their own but was disappointed to see how critical many people on this site are if people who are more comfortable with direct hand offs. My sister disappeared 20 years ago and so while I don’t want to limit my son too much due to my family history it would be nice not to have so much criticism of my choices to take him to school myself and pick him up. I wish I didn’t have the fear but after posting missing signs all over the neighborhood for my sister it us hard not to get filled with anxiety . I came to this website to try to push my comfort zone but was turned off by the criticism of a moms like me. why not just let your kids walk and respect that other parents want to take their kids to school? The very complaints about the lack of respect for parental choices to give kids more freedom seems hypocritical when you read all the criticism about parents who make other choices. I had hoped for more support, not what I was reading. Oh well, signing off- one of those horrible walking son to school car driving helicopter moms (who’s sister and best friend just happened to be abducted but no one would know that..) wow- seems kind of harsh to me. I really thought this website was supposed to be supportive of change.

  41. My daughter walks .5 miles from the bus stop to home. I don’t see it as a big deal as we live in a very nice community. Her dad however who lives in a larger city has a fit over it and always brings it up to her and makes me look like the bad guy. Her step dad is home and she calls him when she gets off the bus. He says she neesd to be independent and not babied… She is 13 years old. I struggle with it because I have a worry wart mother and a worry wart x husband who freaks out over that but lets my kids ride bikes to the gas station to get junk food. I don’t worry about it becuase I give it to God every day. If I worry I will be no good to anyone.

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