A Second Grade Boy Gets a Key to His House

Hi Readers! Here’s a letter that’ll make you smile! — L

Dear Free-Range Kids: Today, thanks in part to you, I am going to have a copy of my house key made for my son.

My son is in second grade. He and his sister go to different schools and I thought it would be easy to do the carpool circuit, but logistics have made it a royal pain for him to sit in the car for an hour every afternoon, so he asked if he could start riding the bus.  Wonderful idea, right?

Friday morning I send him to school with a note that he’s to ride the bus home. Friday afternoon I go out to my front porch (I can SEE the bus stop from my front door) to check that he’s on the bus and lo and behold, the bus stops and the door opens but he doesn’t get off.  Knowing the bus will pass back by, I go out to the bus stop (50 yards from my house) and wait.  The next time around the bus driver stops and apologetically hands me a form which outlines the following school board policy:

“Students 8 years old and younger may be brought back to their school in the afternoon if a parent, guardian or parent/guardian designee is not present at the bus stop to receive them, or if they otherwise appear to have no appropriate supervision. This is in accordance with Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) Guidelines for safety and supervision of children.”

I  knew this policy applied to kindergarten and 1st graders, but I was stunned to realize that it actually goes to age 8.  Fortunately, if I want to allow my son to get off a school bus without me (at my own risk, of course), I simply have to check the appropriate box and sign the form.

I actually faltered before signing it.  The little “What If…” devil sat on my shoulder and whispered scary nothings into my ear. Sadly there’s still a little part of me that knows exactly why that policy is there and agrees with it to a point.  If I couldn’t see the bus stop from my house, would I still let him do it?  But thanks to Free-Range Kids and all the other inspiring information I’ve read here, I dismissed “What If…?” with a roll of my eyes and reminded myself that I’m raising a bright and perfectly competent child who will be thrilled with and rise to this level responsibility.

This year my work schedule means there may be a day during the week that I’m not home when he gets here.  So today I’m going to present him with his very own key to the house.  I’m going to let him unlock the door and come on in by himself every day.  If I’m not here, he knows to get himself a snack and get started on his homework.  He has my phone number and knows to lock the door behind him.  I think we’re all going to love it.

Thank you for continuing to ratify my intuition and helping to dispel the ubiquitous litany of disaster. – Amanda from Georgia


Come on up, kid!


78 Responses

  1. Well done. My kids have always had a key to the house in their backpack. Of course when very young you prefer to be home when they leave or arrive, but once in a while real life gets in the way and they need to know how to let themselves in. In an emergency there are a couple of retired families in the neighborhood where they can ask for help. And I don’t feel the need to have a stroke if I’m going to get home five minutes late because of traffic. It works out better for everyone.

  2. Woo hoo! I have a similar story. So happy to hear of others.

  3. I work at home but sometimes, as Greg said, real life gets in the way and I’m not back from running errands when the kids get home on the bus. My 11-year-old has a key and just last week I gave one to my 8-year-old. Having a key is a mark of responsibility and they love it.

  4. My son rides his bike to school and back every day. He also has a house key in his backpack. If he forgets his key, he knows where our spare key is hidden and how to get it. I usually let him know when I won’t be home when he gets home from school. But there are times, as Greg said, when life gets in the way and I he comes home to an empty apartment. He knows that if nobody answers the doorbell, then he should use his key. If he needs assistance with anything, there is usually somebody home in my building who can help him out.

    Many of my son’s friends here in Germany also have their own house keys and are often alone for a short time after school. It’s a normal thing over here.

  5. when I saw the title I was thinking, “Yeah!” then I read the post and wondered what the heck are they thinking. DCFS won’t let a kid be alone for the walk from the bus stop, that’s within view of the house. Sheesh.

    My son is in 2nd grade and has a key to the house. It’s pinned in a backpack pocket so he won’t lose it and it’s on a long ribbon so he can get it out and use it while it’s still attached to the bag. And the ribbon is embarrassing enough that he won’t take it out at school and show it off.

  6. Well, Amanda, you must live in Cobb County because I had to check the same box! In fact, I work from home and so I’m almost always here when the bus arrives. But sometimes I have conference calls that keep me in the house and I don’t go out to meet the bus. I would hate for them to hang onto my kid simply because I couldn’t step out the door when the bus practically stops in my front yard. Good for you and I’m sure your son will be thrilled with his new independence and responsibility. Now just watch out for the nosy neighbors!

  7. My daughter’s in 3rd grade this year, but last year in 2nd grade is when I gave her a key… today even she’ll be coming home alone and changing into her halloween costume and I’ll get here around 1/2 hr later to pick her up to go trick or treating downtown… which she’ll run ahead while I hang out on a bench somewhere probably lol

  8. My son actually asked me the other day to stay out shopping a little later so he can come in the house and watch TV by himself when he gets off the bus!! 🙂

  9. I’m glad at least the school had an option of ticking a box… as far as I can tell in some cases like this, schools and other institutions decide not to even allow parents that sort of decision.

  10. I started coming home with own key when I was 9. Of course, this was in the 80s, before the what-if’s had popped up like evil mushrooms.

  11. While I think it’s good that parents have a box to check to opt out of being at the bus stop every day (in lieu of no box), I think it’s sad that dropping off kids at their bus stop and them making their way home is “passe”. I don’t know about other communities, but in my large metropolitan area (which includes outlying “country” as well) bus stops are every 3 or so blocks apart. No kid has to walk very far at all after being dropped off, there are not child snatchers behind every bush, and isn’t walking the short distance home from the bus stop good preparation for later independence?

  12. The creeping-in of State management for our children is disturbing (after all, Georgia isn’t one of the two US states that have an age-limit regarding unsupervised children, but this school-sponsored policy makes it sound like it does). But it’s interesting there is a box one can check to opt out. So despite the threatening language (which is what it sounds like to me and how others will perceive it – hence the “allow” comment above) – it could be viewed as a service.

    It would be great if those grownups and institutions who care about kids’ safety COULD start to offer services instead of vague admonitions and scare-policies, which taken in aggregate have a lot of parents and adults confused and paranoid.

    And good for you, Amanda. I predict your son really will love that afternoon alone.

  13. The more I know, the more I love my old school system. They haven’t changed their policies yet: same as when I was in first grade (about 15 years ago) they’ll drop kids off at their stop, parents or no. But they also employ a system. If you walk, they supervise the street around it, any busy intersections nearby have crossing guards, and they’ll raise a fuss if you walk alone under a certain age.

    It’s actually more kid-enforced than adult enforced; the teachers will let the responsible students in their grade (or that the other teachers say are responsible) walk alone in cases, but the other students are known to chase after them. Happened to me in grade 3, and I saw it happen when I was home in June.

    One piece of advice to that parent: over the next week or so, take the time to introduce your son to the neighbors on each side, maybe give one a spare key, and ask them to keep an eye on the house. I received more than one band-aid and hug when playing tag from my neighbors over the years, and it’ll make you both (mother and son!) feel safer.

  14. It just amazes this overprotection. On a side note, I heard of an ocassion when a student of roughly this age was questioned by school staff as to Why does he have a key

  15. Just be sure he actually TAKES the key with him. I just happened to be home yesterday in the mid afternoon, having stopped by to get something between meetings. My 7th grader rode up on his bike looking relieved. “Oh good! You’re home! I accidently forgot my keys and my cell phone when I left for school this morning . . . . “

  16. That VERY same slip came home with my son at the beginning of the year too (LeighB- I do live in Cobb!) Although my son is now in 4th grade, I still shook my head at it.

    Way to go for giving him his first set of keys! 🙂

  17. Good for this parent, and good for the child–and, dare I say it, good for the school too, that an “opt out” box is provided as an option, as it well SHOULD be.

    By contrast, my 7½ year old nephew isn’t even trusted to ride his bicycle around the immediate block where he’s watched by his grandmother. One day they wouldn’t even let him outside because of the weather forecast predicting thunderstorms, even though the yard is so small it would take less than 15 seconds for him to go indoors. Don’t you think a 7½ year-old child, upon hearing the thunder roar, or upon getting wet from the rain, has enough sense to go indoors–and even if not, wouldn’t the close proximity make it easy enough to rectify if need be anyway?

    Instead he’s trapped indoors the whole time, in a small house barely larger than an average 2 bedroom apartment. While I respect differing opinions, it makes me want to scream.


  18. Good for you Amanda. 🙂

    I remember getting my first key to the house at age 6, along with some dimes should I need to call home (that’s right, a dime to use a payphone back in the day). I remember feeling like a grown up, and felt proud and responsible. I had mine safety pinned to my jacket or pants, like a badge of honor. lol

  19. Actually, I think asking for a signature makes sense.

    Every year there’s one or two little kids (smaller than 8, certainly) who are left at their stop with no adult, and they end up locked out for a few hours or lost. Nothing untoward happens (although a small enough child might actively *avoid* help from strangers!), but we actually don’t want children left home alone unless their parents think this is okay.

    Getting confirmation in advance that it’s all right for this particular child to be unattended makes sense. It also sets a clear guideline which you can use in case of an ACS case – “Well, the school thinks it is acceptable for a child at the age of 8 to be unattended at the bus stop, surely it makes sense for a child at age to be able to walk to the store no further away? If this is objectionable, why do you allow the school to do so?”

  20. @Larry: Dang! I remember playing out in the rain all the time. As long as we wore our raincoats and red rubber boots, we were good to go. I even remember walking to school during a hurricane. Not like in the midwest (I remember it being the tail end of an actual hurricane), but the winds were so strong, me and my brother were literally walking at a 45 degree angle just so we don’t get blown away. We thought it was fun seeing mailboxes being turned over and dragged on the ground, debris churning in circles, we even pretended we were Superman by stretching out our arms and hanging there at that angle. lol I was about 8 or 9 if I recall.

  21. @Amanda from Georgia: My children are both 9 now, but what we did was get a lock box for our house key and teach them the combination.

    Our house has a high fence around it and if they are walking home with friends, they have to ask them to wait outside the gate while they get the key (or just say goodbye). It’s a 4 number combo that they easily know, but it spares me from having to deal with them losing a key on the playground, and keeps me from worrying about them being locked out.

    My son, sneaky guy, also learned the garage combo by looking over my shoulder without me knowing, so even if the key doesn’t work, the garage will admit them to the realm of home.

    Best of luck to you!

  22. I second getting to know the neighbors. When I was in middle school, I dropped my key in a pile of leaves-couldn’t find it, and this was before I had acell. And it was COLD.

    My solution? I went next door to the neighbor’s house. They weren’t home, but they kept a spare key outside, and had let me know I was always welcome to let myself into their house if need be. I walked in, called my parents, pet the cats, and left them a thank you note.

    Neighbors rock!

  23. We live in a gated condo community and my boys were hopping the gate (with scooters!!) to get in after playing at the park all day. So I had to get a set of keys. At first I made the oldest responsible for the keys but when he went back to his dad’s at the end of summer, the youngest still needed to get in and out of the gate. So I gave him his first set of keys. He left them at school once and was not allowed to go to the park all weekend. It really felt like self punishment because he’s SO energetic and really needs that park time, but it was a necessary lesson in how important it is to keep up with his keys. He loves the responsibility and I love knowing that he’s not hopping the gate anymore. LOL

  24. “On a side note, I heard of an ocassion when a student of roughly this age was questioned by school staff as to Why does he have a key.”

    I guess that means those of us with younger kids in school need to teach our kids to respond to questions like that with “Because my mom wants me to have it” and to followup questions with “My mom said to ask her if you had any more questions.” (Substitute appropriate parental term for your situation.) Which is what people who want to know why our kids are doing things not directly related to their own jobs (e.g., teachers asking questions about non-educational things) should be doing in the first place!

  25. “On a side note, I heard of an ocassion when a student of roughly this age was questioned by school staff as to Why does he have a key.”

    WTF? You give a kid a key as an additional SAFETY precaution. There was a key in my backpack starting in kindergarten. I don’t think I ever used the key at that house (we moved when I was in 5th grade) but it was there so that I could get myself into the house if needed, in some odd case that my mom was delayed and not home. It was a just-in-case precaution.

  26. Dee, I think the assumption was that the kid “might be” a latchkey kid — and that it was the school’s business if he was, and their duty to find out.

  27. @Nicola, the key-box is a good idea. When I was growing up there was a hidden key, but I was sometimes concerned about admitting its location to other kids who might be in my company.

    Another possibility is a combination (button) lock for the garage door. My neighbors have that, protected by a clever combination that’s easy to remember once you’ve been told. My son has that combination in order to gain access to a shared lawnmower that’s stored in their garage, and we use it when doing vacation fish-care duties. And, of course, it’s easy to change the combination if one ever suspects it’s fallen into the wrong hands (it’s less so if your child’s key goes missing).

  28. I gave my daughter a key in second grade too. Seemed a good time to give it, especially since my son had speech therapy and I often ran errands after that just might run a little long. Then the school started getting picky and requiring kids even in second grade to point out the person picking them up before being allowed to pass the red line behind the gate. Really slowed down pickups.

    Fortunately, they did allow kids that age to just say they were walking home and go out a different gate, so I had my daughter start walking on her own some days. Not all of them – none of her friends walked home alone, and she got lonely. Still, it’s a distance of less than a quarter mile, and very safe once the street the school is on is crossed.

  29. Give a child responsibility and she/he will demonstrate responsibility. What motivation is there to accept responsibility if none is given?

    Think of it this way:

    How often do you as an adult passenger in someone else’s car pay close attention to the route you’re taking. After all, it’s The Driver’s responsibility to get to and from the destination.

    Somebody made a comment months ago that stuck with me that relates to this issue. A mom talked about her young daughter being rather squirmy, so Mom always took the child’s hand to cross streets. The idea in the mom’s mind was that the child’s random, never-at-rest personality suggested she couldn’t be trusted to look both ways and cross a street safely.

    Then one day, the mom told the girl she wanted her to be able to cross the busy street by herself. What surprised the mom was that the girl instantly settled down and took the responsibility to cross safely in a serious mature manner. If that mother is reading here today, I would love to hear other stories about this child’s continued progress.

  30. “Dee, I think the assumption was that the kid “might be” a latchkey kid — and that it was the school’s business if he was, and their duty to find out.”

    Yeah, but what I’m saying is that in my world view, ALL the kids should have a just-in-case house key in their backpack. That’s not even free range versus not-free range, it’s just basic precautions.

  31. EricS Yes I agree 100%, and your story is a fun one to hear.

    My wife & my relationship with the grandmother is fine, she is my wife’s mother. She watches her grandchildren (my wife’s sister’s children) somewhat regularly, and the lock-down she does is stunning. We sometimes watch them for a while to give her a break & we give MUCH more freedom. Is it any wonder that, whenever those children see us, they want to go with us?

    Thing is, though, her house is very small, about the size of your average 2 bedroom apartment. That’s a cramped space for a woman & 3 kids aged 4-7. They don’t even have a “kids room” to play in, they’re in the living room the ENTIRE time unless they’re outdoors.

    When we have them, we give them lots of free-range relief, but I can’t provide this for them but just so much, I have my own life to live. But when our time & my energy allows, we release them to free-range freedom–it gives the grandmother a break too, frankly–and the kids just love it to pieces.


  32. The combination locks mentioned needn’t be a garage door; you can get combination deadbolts for any door (google schlage combination deadbolt to see examples). We’ve got one on our front door and I love it … one less key to worry about keeping track of and no need to have a spare key outside. Plus now I needn’t worry that anyone will ever ask my son why he has a key. Who knew?

  33. Nanny State at its worst.
    Where I lived for many years, the school bus, mandatory because the school was on the other side of the park, children would not be allowed off the bus if a parent was not there to meet them. Not even the children whose home was across the suburban sidewalk from the bus stop!

  34. If the parent is not there to meet them, the buss doesn’t let them off? How does this work exactly given that most families are two-income families? What happened to the “latchkey kid” phenomenon?

  35. My 8 year old kid rides the bus home and stays there by himself and the dogs until I get home at 5 pm. I can’t afford after-school care anymore. He gets his homework done, has a snack and is very self-policing. He knows my cell number just in case. Independence is a great gift for a kid.

  36. In our school system, parents of kindergarteners are required to SHOW PHOTO ID to the bus monitor before the kids are allowed off the bus. That’s every. single. day., not just at the start of school until the monitor gets to know you.

    I’m so glad Thing One and Thing Two are now first graders and can just walk the 20 yards to our house without an escort.

  37. When my son was that age we lived in New Mexico on Kirtland Air Force Base. It was base policy that a child could not stay home alone until they were 10 and they could not watch younger children until they were 12. So I had to live by those rules, I am sure that at 8 he would have loved to be able to go straight home and I would have let him.

  38. Unrelated:

    Litigious society? Four year old sued: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130911303&ps=cprs

  39. My brother got a key to the house in 2nd grade too. I was in high school, and his bus got home 30 minutes before mine. So if my mom wasn’t at home, he had a key and knew to go in the house and wait for me to get home. Of course, one day he did decide to go to a friend’s house before I got home, but, gee we all survived the experience!

  40. I’m really glad they at least give the parents a choice. I tested my school out just a few weeks ago when the kids had a half-day at school. My 11-year-old just walks to and from school every day. He’s home alone in the morning and home alone in the afternoons for about 1/2 hour. My younger son (almost 6) took the bus to the babysitter’s last year on half days but this year I decided he’s old enough to be home with his brother and his brother’s old enough to watch him. So I wrote a note to the school on the half-day stating that Brandon was to get off the bus at home and that his brother would be home to watch him. Nathan waited on the porch and they let Brandon off the bus even though there was no car in the driveway. I’m impressed with the school and I was proud of my boys for taking care of themselves for a few hours.

  41. Scott,
    In answer to your question (because this happened to me twice) in our school district they take the kid back to school and then call you and you have to come get the kid. I guess if they can’t reach the parent they start calling the emergency contacts.

  42. The photo is one of those “just how old is this picture?” items–the car is a Studebaker from about 50 years ago.

    Regarding keys: At the railway museum I belong to, the number of keys on your key ring is somewhat of a status symbol; it was similar when I worked for the local electric co. No matter that some of the keys don’t get used more than once or twice a year, the more you have the higher you are on the food chain. Actually, it’s a symbol of how trustworthy you are. Once a boy gets one key, he will look forward to when he can have a whole ring of them.

  43. @LRH “By contrast, my 7½ year old nephew isn’t even trusted to ride his bicycle around the immediate block where he’s watched by his grandmother. One day they wouldn’t even let him outside because of the weather forecast predicting thunderstorms. even though the yard is so small it would take less than 15 seconds for him to go indoors. Don’t you think a 7½ year-old child, upon hearing the thunder roar, or upon getting wet from the rain, has enough sense to go indoors–and even if not, wouldn’t the close proximity make it easy enough to rectify if need be anyway?”

    That sounds like being outside is safe because it takes 15 seconds to get indoors. The more important point is, the kid will just get wet, cm’on, how is THAT dangerous in any sense ?

  44. I was a latch-key kid, in charge of getting myself a snack and starting my homework…just to warn you of some of the dangers: i ate a whole lot of doritoes and often watched tv while i worked on homework…..which might explain my grades.

    good for you for trusting your son!

  45. My daughter didn’t get a key until this summer, just prior to starting sixth grade, but boy does she love having it. I had only meant to give it to her temporarily — she was spending the week with relatives who needed to drop her off at home while I was still at work — but I forgot to collect it from her afterward. About a month later, we were coming home at the end of the day, and she said “You can go in through the garage, I’m going to let myself in the front door.” I said “How?” and she said “With my key, of course” and whipped it out of her backpack. It’s hers permanently now. 🙂

  46. “I’m so glad Thing One and Thing Two are now first graders and can just walk the 20 yards to our house without an escort.”

    TWENTY YARDS??????

    That’s just a little more than the length of my (not particularly large) HOUSE!!!!! Do my kids now need escorts from the bedroom to the breakfast table? That’s shorter than many people’s front walks, and I’m not talking people with country estates!

    The world has gone nuts, it really has.

    Ash, FWIW, it sounds like they were afraid of thunderstorms. And sometimes, thunderstorms can be genuinely dangerous. But yeah, a kid can hear thunder and go inside. A seven year old (non special needs) kid who doesn’t know to go inside when he hears thunder has lousy parents.

  47. Okay, “lousy parents’ was too harsh and I apologize. But definitely, if parents think they can’t let a kid outside because he can’t understand “come inside if it hears thunder,” they are falling short somewhere.

  48. “Come inside if it hears thunder?” It must be bedtime!

  49. It’s been about two weeks now and after the first day he asked me to keep the door locked every day, even when I am home. He is thrilled with the responsibility. I’ve been home every day, but I am seriously considering just not being here one day so he can experience it for himself.

    Thanks for all the great tips and support. It’s great to know there are like minded folks about.

  50. Jen said:
    “In our school system, parents of kindergarteners are required to SHOW PHOTO ID to the bus monitor before the kids are allowed off the bus. That’s every. single. day., not just at the start of school until the monitor gets to know you.”

    Good heavens! As a bus driver that would drive me absolutely ballistic! Do they have any clue how much time that would add to a route? Here, our junior and senior kindergartens must be met by a parent or designated alternate, and generally by the end of the second week of school, I can recognize who’s at the stop for which kid. I can’t even begin to imagine demanding photo id from all the parents! I have one stop with seven kindergartners from four families – imagine how long that would take!

  51. @Lenore, this not related to this post but I lost your email address. Did you see this one?


  52. We didn’t have school bus service when I was in second grade–I used to take the city bus home, so I had a key. Once when I wasn’t feeling well, the school ‘nurse’ (if indeed she was one) called my mom at work and my mom told her to let me go home early on the bus. I remember the nurse warning me not to step in the water puddles–it had just rained. I looked at her quizzically and she told me that water puddles are like magnets for some kids and they step in every one. I remember skipping the bus and veering from puddle to puddle the entire three mile walk home (uphill, BTW). I guess I wasn’t that sick.

  53. Hi, Lenore. I don’t know whether you saw this article in the NYTimes about two 4 year olds who have been judged old enough to sue for accidentally knocking down and elderly woman while they were racing their bikes.
    see it here:

  54. […] Hi Readers! Here's a letter that'll make you smile! — L Dear Free-Range Kids: Today, thanks in part to you, I am going to have a copy of my house key made for my son. My son is in second grade. He and his sister go to different schools and I thought it would be easy to do the carpool circuit, but logistics have made it a royal pain for him to sit in the car for an hour every afternoon, so he asked if he could start riding the bus.  Wonderful ide … Read More […]

  55. There’s a box you can check so you don’t have to wait for them? I wish I had known that last year when my daughter was in K. I was just told by other parents they wouldn’t let her off the bus if I wasn’t there. I didn’t even know I had a “it’s fine by me if she walks one block to our house in broad daylight in a neighbourhood full of kids getting home from school” – option. She goes to a private school now and I have to drive and drop off / pick up due to the distance, so it’s not an issue anymore for me, but if it were, I’d be looking to see if they have a form…

  56. Re my earlier post…I’ve often wondered about that what-if, too.
    Last year, my ward, a high school sophomore who has no trouble walking “all three blocks” to school, got sick and the office called me to pick him up.
    When I got there, they would not release him to me because, despite a copy of guardianship papers on file, I am not a blood relative. It took several phone calls to get clarification. He could have walked home in that time and, if I had not been there, let himself in with a key if the door that is rarely locked happened to be secured.

  57. I’ve always been a stay at home mom, but as soon as each of my kids get to 6th grade, they got a key. The main reason is having to be places with one after school while the other one would be just getting home. We went to the hardware store and I let them pick out the one they wanted (I was amazed how many designs they have!). It’s their responsibility to make sure it’s in their backpacks. I will usually let them know if I don’t plan to be home but they’re fine if I’m not.

    I would suggest not only do you get to know a few of your neighbors, but swap keys with a few of them. I have keys to 2 of my neighbor’s homes and they both have mine. You never know who might not be home when you need it.

  58. Unfortunately, there is no check box for us when it comes to our children getting home from their school. It’s a K-2 school whose policy is that children must be collected by a parent or caregiver, and written permission must be given if they want to go home with someone other than the usual caregiver.

    Given that my 7yo and 5yo walk to school alone, I would love it if I could let their little brothers continue their afternoon nap instead of getting them up to walk the 250m to school, so that we fulfil the requirements of collecting the girls. Given that the minute they dump their bags on me they run off home out of my sight anyway, it seems a bit ridiculous…!

    Will be glad next year when the 7yo will be catching the bus home. (Unfortunately, I’m not free-range enough to let her risk the pedestrian crossing where I am almost run over on a regular basis, so I’ll be walking to pick her up from the stop.)

  59. Here’s a video of a guard at the Royal Palace in Stockholm, Sweden that I’m sure everyone will enjoy.

  60. well I had my first experience of people looking at me crazily when I said I have just begun ‘freeranging’ and let my 9 and 7 year old go to the park (2 blocks away) and visit a friend (1 1/2 blocks) alone.

    other persons said that 12 is the age you let kids do stuff alone. then looked down at me and said “wellllll I suppose you know your child.. .Some perhaps could do it younger’ (but it was in a total sarcastic manner (ie she didnt believe it)

  61. Okay, about school busses not letting the kid off…

    Just imagine this – you are waiting for the bus. Waiting the twenty minutes or more and the bus never comes. So you walk into the school and find out that your kid was put on the WRONG bus and we would have to wait at the school to get him instead of sending him home by school bus as was required.

    You do know what I did, don’t you?

    The tongue lashing I gave about their irresponsibility made the principal’s head spin. I’m disabled. I couldn’t walk the mile to school before the time limit to drop them off at Child Services was reached. It was their mistake and they were going to correct it and Never Do It Again.

    It never happened again. He was home 20 minutes later.

  62. sorry.. i didn’t walk into school, I walked into my home and phoned the school.

  63. My kids walk home from the bus stop every day and run around our neighborhood until dark but none of them have a key. In fact, I don’t even have a key, lol. We just moved here and just haven’t gotten around to getting keys made (my husband is the only one with a key). I’m almost always home but the few times I had to be out while my husband was at work I just left the door unlocked (like I did when we lived in Chicago…our front door was only ever locked at night).
    The couple of times I had to be out when the kids got out of school I just left a note telling them to behave, no kids in, no going outside, etc until I got home.
    I arrived 10 minutes after they did and they were playing xbox (it was a Friday so no homework). I have a feeling my kids would just lose a key if we gave it to them. Over the summer I bought my son (then 8) a watch with a timer on it so he would know when to come home from the park. He lost it after 6 days. It was a watch…attached to his wrist and he still lost it.

  64. My parents lived at the dead end of a neighborhood with only one through street. My bus stop in junior high, and sometimes in elementary, was almost half a mile away. We griped about it some (okay, probably a lot), but really we liked it, and it was good exercise. And we had to learn not to be late, because we couldn’t “run out the door when we saw the bus coming”. My mom worked the early shift at the hospital, too, so if we missed the bus, we had to come home and call my dad or grandma to take us to school. Needless to say, we had keys from an early age, although I joke that the city of Little Rock is littered with lost keys to my parents’ house from the five of us.

  65. PS, I was pretty young when I learned how to have a key cut at Wal-mart, for the same reason.

  66. I’m getting ready to move to Georgia and was appalled to see this quoted in one of the school newsletters:

    Georgia’s Guidelines for leaving a child without adult supervision:

    * Children under 8 years old should never be left alone, even for short periods of time.
    * Children between the ages of 9 and 12, based on level of maturity, can be left home alone for brief periods of time.
    * Children 13 and older can generally be left as babysitters, with the exception of children in foster care. It is not recommended, however, that 13 year olds baby sit infants, small children and children that require special attention due to medical conditions.
    * Children 15 and older can be left home alone overnight, depending on the level of maturity of the child.

    Other safety precautions to consider when leaving a child unaccompanied: Don’t leave the child responsible for food preparation that involves the stove; have a neighbor or relative check in regularly or have the child check in with an adult; make a safety plan that includes 911, and rehearse it with your child.

    Source: http://dfcs.dhs.georgia.gov/portal/site/DHS-DFCS/menuitem.8237042e9dbda3aa50c8798dd03036a0/?vgnextoid=f85d758ed7a73110VgnVCM100000bf01010aRCRD&vgnextchannel=6d9882d8e77e9110VgnVCM100000bf01010aRCRD

    I’m guessing that’s why the bus policy is the way it is.

  67. Craziness. Okay, so I was walking to/from school quite young, there was only one large intersection, and there was a crossing guard there. And when I got home, my two older sisters were there (mom, well, she was out. 99% of the time).

    My son takes the bus home from school (husband walks him to school). The stop is a few houses down from my house. Last year, he walked home by himself. Usually a parent was there, but not always. This year, I wasn’t there one time, and well, the bus driver said to my neighbor that if there aren’t any adults at the stop, he will take the kid back to school.
    I said: really? And what’s the school going to do when they call me and I answer: okay, have him walk home then. I mean, really?

    I always remember, when I wonder if the kids can do something, that my grandmother, may she rest in peace, at 8 years old would go to school, then to the factory to work the rest of the day. Then she’d get up the next morning (sometimes sleeping in the factory, sometimes sleeping at the owner’s house, sometimes going back home) she’d get up to do it again. Yes, she was 8 (and amazing, her whole life). So when I wonder if the kid can walk four houses down the block by himself… I think, yeah, and thank g-d I don’t have to send him to the factory too.

  68. Good for you!
    Some hardware stores sell keys that have kid-joyful decorations imprinted on them. My daughter was thrilled with her daisy-studded house key…

  69. I live in a rural county, and the children here are not allowed to get on or off of the bus without a parent present until they are in 4th grade. That seems a bit ridiculous to me, but I don’t have the option of checking a box to opt out of this whole thing. Where we live, my son would be in far more danger from the wildlife (mainly deer and rabbits) or the occasional unleashed dog than he would from any person.

    And to think that when I was a kid, I spent pretty much every non-school day, and every afternoon on school days, out on my own with my brother or sister until dinnertime. Without cell phones! And yet we’re still here. Go figure.

  70. In New Zealand it is illegal to leave a child home alone under the age of 14! 14 is also the age from which a child can leagally be left with responsibility for other children under age 14.

    My Mother used to leave us at home sometimes when she had to go and purchase milk, or sometimes we would let ourselves in after school when she started working again.

    Our Government is also planning to make our country Smoke-Free in 15 years so we’re hoping they’ll ignore our families for a while.

  71. I only have one thing to say:


  72. I’m a senior in high school. I get off the school bus at a central stop, and my mother picks me up there on her way home from work.

    Yesterday she was late, and the driver would not let me off the bus until she arrived. School policy, she said. This absolutely floored me. Granted, I live in an extremely rural area, with few people around to ask for help if for any reason I should need it, but for Pete’s sake, I’m 17 years old. I’m considered mature enough to tour, select, and apply to colleges, but I can’t wait 10 minutes in a parking lot?

    In a similar vein, my high school also has a ridiculously strict bathroom policy. One person is allowed out of the classroom at a time (and only with a specially designated “pass”), and everyone must sign out in a log, writing full name, date, destination, time of departure, and time of return. I once had my bathroom “privileges” revoked for a week for taking too long – all of 10 minutes. I’d find this absurd for second-graders. In high school it’s reprehensible. What a double standard – act like an adult, but forget about being treated like one.

    I can’t wait ’til college. It’ll be a downright luxury to be able to go to the bathroom any time I please.

  73. Right on! I signed that same form in Cobb County at the beginning of the year, then they didn’t drop my son yesterday. Bus driver tells me today “that isn’t enough” to allow him to let my son off without an adult.
    We’ll see how this ends.

  74. Well, it ended, for now. Kimberly from the transportation department called yesterday and explained that the waiver didn’t apply because the house wasn’t in sight of the bus stop. By the end of the phone call she had seen the light. Naturally she then passed the buck to the Assistant Principal at the school, who tried to convince me it was all in my son’s best interest. I told her that he is likely in more danger riding the school bus. The real purpose of the call seems to have been to investigate whether I was letting him come home to an empty house and whether he had been taken back to the school this year already.
    After this call Kimberly called back (rather quickly) and said they would in fact honor the contract as written (duh!) but would be eliminating the option for next year. So I guess next year will be another fight…

  75. i am a kid and i should get a key to my house not fair i am very good at that kind of stuff + my parents do not work and if they go out i have my sister thats 21 years old so i think i can handle it

  76. and when i get home there will always be either my sister or my mother or my father so i will always be safe so i think i should get a key to my house its only fair that way my mom always treats me like a baby so i will never get a key to my house:(

  77. how old do you have to be too get a key to your house when your a kid is it legeal to give a kid it when he or she’s 9 is it i think not someone tell me! someone anyone tell me please just tell me please

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