The time will come in your children's lives, and in your own, when you will have to decide whether your children are ready to go to school by themselves or not. It might come sooner or later, but for some of us it will be too soon, while for others (the children) it will never be soon enough.
The truth is that we will never know exactly when a child is ready to go out on the street by themselves to get to school. Every individual is different and it is impossible to know at what age or exact moment children change or reach the point in their development where it is safe for them to walk on their own.
Having said that, the ideal age range at which children can start to enjoy this independence is from 9 to 12 years old approximately, as we can see in this article which features advice for when children start walking to school on their own.
The risks of going to school alone
Without wanting to be alarmists, children will face certain risks when going to school on their own. To highlight the different kinds of risks children face when walking to school, SafeKids has developed an internet app which teaches children what they should not be doing and what is the right way to behave.
It is called «How to walk» and it discusses the following hazards:
1. Walking distracted while listening to music with headphones on or while looking at their cellphone: children should not have their headphones in while walking to school (they block out sounds around you and the noise of cars), nor should they be looking at their cellphones, social media or any other distractions on the screen.
2. Crossing the street in the wrong place: to cross the street children should use zebra crossings and traffic lights for pedestrians. They should avoid crossing the street in inappropriate places to avoid being run over.
3. Walking at night with dark clothing: this is a serious mistake. At night children should wear light clothes or some kind of reflective clothing that reflects the light and they should walk in well lit areas suitable for pedestrians whenever possible.
4. Not noticing distracted drivers: children should always wait until vehicles approaching a zebra crossing have come to a complete stop. They should not pay attention to any gesture by a driver to cross the street without first making sure that there are no other vehicles around before starting to cross.
5. Walking along the road incorrectly: if there is no other option, they should walk on the road in such a way that they can see the traffic, keeping as far away from vehicles as possible.
6. Not paying attention to cars in reverse: driving in reverse means the driver has reduced visibility therefore children should not walk behind these vehicles, especially buses and trucks.
7. The second car: although some vehicles may have stopped at a zebra crossing sometimes other drivers may not have had time to do so or they might think they can drive over the crossing before the pedestrian reaches their side of the road. Children should wait until all vehicles around them have come to a complete stop before safely crossing the road.