AIBU to think that kids in year 7 upwards don't require after school care?

(69 Posts)
Blueskiesandcherrypies Thu 06-Mar-14 12:34:40

Or do they? Genuine question as mine aren't at that age yet but I would like to go back to work when my youngest starts school, my eldest two will be in years 7 and 8. I will send youngest 2 to after school club (foundation and yr1) but am unsure whether older two will need some sort of club/childminder? They are sensible kids. Is there a law or guidance?

Lottiedoubtie Thu 06-Mar-14 12:36:32

No specific law- it's about judging responsibility.

I think you could be on dodgy ground with the eleven year old to be honest. But then it's difficult because many after school clubs won't take them at that age either.

Some do, some don't. But there isn't much provision for older children.

I think it depends on how long they have alone in the house and who mature and independent they are. Also, if they can be trusted to behave together.

Perhaps you can start training them now?

Electryone Thu 06-Mar-14 12:37:37

IM in Scotland and we have a different system so I don't know what ages your DC are.

Electryone Thu 06-Mar-14 12:37:52

Im in Scotland and we have a different system so I don't know what ages your DC are.

Cigarettesandsmirnoff Thu 06-Mar-14 12:37:52

OMG my mil had a breakdown when SIL did this.

Tbh I think it counts on the kids. I was left on my own and was sensible also used to get two buses across town at that age.

I never left dd till she was year 8/9.

Not sure on the law but mil was banging on about one.

FreckledLeopard Thu 06-Mar-14 12:39:16

DD used to walk home alone aged 9 and let herself in with a key and be at home for about an hour until au pair had picked up her step-brother. She was fine!

I've looked after an 11 year old, came to me from the school bus. She hated going to a childminders so I paid her as an assistant n my homework club ;-)

She came to me until she was almost 14.

Seeline Thu 06-Mar-14 12:39:54

I think it depends on circumstances.
How late home would you be/how long would they be on their own?
Can they be trusted together (I think often individually the children are fine, but if prone to fighting together that could be a problem)
Can they be trusted to get on with homework on their own?
What about after-school activities/clubs

I think the real problem with that age is the holidays. They are not old enough to occupy themselves all day, for a couple of weeks at a time....

OvertiredandConfused Thu 06-Mar-14 12:39:56

By that age, they can get themselves home and get a drink and a snack. However, I don't get home until sometime between 630pm and 7.30pm so I wouldn't be happy leaving them for all that time. I guess a lot depends on what time you might get home. Also, would they need transport to any activities? And what steps will you put in place to make sure they are home safe?

Tbh id say yes they do. Some parents dont get in til six, so three hours of lone time each evening can be detrimental. After school care in the form of a CM would give them tea, somewhere to do homework with help if able, and just keep an eye on them.

I find year seven and eight to be crucial in terms of developing a sense of self esteem and confidence and with up to three hours five nughts a week "free" there is the potential for them to be led astray.

StephenKatz Thu 06-Mar-14 12:40:18

I think it depends on a few things to be honest. I was rather shocked (and still am) when I read about MNers paying for after school care for kids that age, based purely on my own experiences of being a school child and DB and I getting ourselves home from school by the age of 10 several times a week. BUT we/my parents were lucky that my Nan only lived a mile away, and although she didn't directly supervise us, she was there if we needed her. We were also quite mature kids.

Blueskiesandcherrypies Thu 06-Mar-14 12:40:30

Electryone, they will be 11/12.

StephenKatz Thu 06-Mar-14 12:41:20

I should add - this was approx 1995

I thought you had to be twelve or fourteen before you could be left alone in law. I'd have to google tbh

I don't think the argument "we did it in my day" holds any water as we used to send kids all sorts of places and do all sorts we wouldn't now.

Completely agree mynameis. Far too risky. Not just in the park now. It's drink drugs and gangs

I think social media has a lot to answrr for too - kids can and will be harassed, bullied and targetted from all angles nowadays and an extra eye on them really is beneficial.

Some do and some don't. Both DH and I work full time and so from year 6 onwards DS started walking home from school and letting himself in. However, just before the end of year 6 he convinced himself that some one was in the house and was absolutely terrified - DH came home from work an hour later and found him almost in tears pacing up and down the bottom of the road.

He is now in year 7 and will not let himself into the house if no one is in - he is fine if we go out and leave him (in the holidays he can happily be in all day on his own) but I have to try and make sure he has somewhere to go every day after school and a lot of time he stays in the school library and does his homework just so he gets home later.

He's fine if he has a mate over and they both go in together.

ReallyTired Thu 06-Mar-14 12:45:42

I think a lot depends on what time you get home from work. I am happy to leave my son for a couple of hours, but I wouldn't want to leave him home alone for much longer. However I think that sending a secondary school child to after school club would be a bit mean. They would find it babyish and demeaning to go to a childcare facility aimed at five year olds. Some secondary schools have a homework club which reduces the time home alone.

BirthdayMuppet Thu 06-Mar-14 12:46:06

There is no law on leaving children alone at any particular age, but a parent will be held responsible and can be prosecuted for neglect if something goes wrong and the child is hurt or hurts/damages someone/something else. 11 & 12yo's prob do need some form of care or carer available if it's to be more than an hour or so at home alone, and if they are expected to cook a full meal or put themselves to bed without having seen the parent.

The law doesn’t say an age when you can leave a child on their own, but it’s an offence to leave a child alone if it places them at risk.
Use your judgement on how mature your child is before you decide to leave them alone.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) says:

children under 12 are rarely mature enough to be left alone for a long period of time
children under 16 shouldn’t be left alone overnight
babies, toddlers and very young children should never be left alone
The law says that parents can be prosecuted if they leave a child unsupervised ‘in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health’.

There you go then!

Blueskiesandcherrypies Thu 06-Mar-14 12:47:36

I would like to work 4 days pw and I reckon 2 of those days (3 at a push) DH could arrange to be home from meetings by 4pm and be working out in the office (he has an office in the garden) so kids could go and let him know they're home and obviously holler if they need him for anything. So it's the other 1/2 days I'm thinking about. I don't think holidays would be too much of a problem as between the three of us (me, older DCs dad, and DH) we could prob cover it and utilise holiday clubs for the younger two where needed.

higgle Thu 06-Mar-14 12:49:07

DS1 was home alone from 11 1/2 He got a grammar school place and arrived home - right outside our door- on the school bus at about 4.10pm. DS2 was collected from prep school after prep and I worked some distance away so we got back about 6pm. DS1 was a very sensible boy at 11 and used to have a drink and a biscuit and then settle down to do his home work in peace and quiet until the rest of us got in. He continued to use this quiet tome for homework, which I would check and sign off when I got home. If he had had a more difficult journey home or I had felt unable to trust him not to do unsafe stuff at home we would have had to find another solution.

whatever5 Thu 06-Mar-14 12:49:24

I think that as there is rarely after school care, many secondary school age children do look after themselves for an hour or two after school even at the age of 11. For parents who work, there often isn't an alternative unless they resign for their jobs.

I think that it's a good idea to try to be home by at least 5.30 though.

treaclesoda Thu 06-Mar-14 12:49:45

I know a 17 year old who still go to their childminder! Obviously not to be looked after, but, eg, child lives out in countryside far away from nearest bus stop. Its easier for them to get off the bus in the village (particulary in winter when it would involve a long walk on a dark country road), wander to childminder's house and get started on their homework, then their mum picks them up later. Not sure if the childminder classes it as childminding, or if she charges the mum for it, but it works for that family, they've been going to the childminder since the age of about 2, so she is like family really.

meditrina Thu 06-Mar-14 12:49:52

"I thought you had to be twelve or fourteen before you could be left alone in law."

There is no law in any of the jurisdictions win UK which specifies an age. The parent is however responsible if any harm comes to their child when left alone, if the circumstances in which they were left was deemed neglectful.

So it's up to the individual family to take responsibility for deciding at their DC are ready for. I found that my DC were fine to be home alone after school. It's a bit nerve-wracking when you first trust them with keys, but if you have drilled them well in emergency procedures and also permitted/banned activities whilst you are out then it really will be fine.

There isn't a law but the second something goes wrong you can be prosecuted.

I'm not really allowed to leave under 18's alone as a carer - SS are very, very risk averse now.

BirthdayMuppet Thu 06-Mar-14 12:50:13

I think for two days a week, if it wasn't for more than two hours at a time, I'd probably be prepared to leave an 11 & 12yo if I were confident they were sensible and happy to be left. What time is the first adult home likely to be back at on those two remaining days?

Kamer Thu 06-Mar-14 12:54:21

I leave my yr 7 DS to let self in a couple of days a week when working. On one of those days DH is home around the same time as him, on the other he is alone from 3.45 to 5.15/5.30ish. He is fine and there are friends and neighbours nearby he could call on if there was a problem. There isn't any childcare for this age group where I live so I would be in the ridiculous situation of having to stop work as my DC became high school aged!

MrsJoeHart Thu 06-Mar-14 12:54:30

My 11 year old is on her own for half an hour before the 12 year old gets in, then a further half an hour later the 14 year old comes home. They are all very sensible, no not to open the door etc. I work very locally, so in an emergency can be home very quickly.

Over the Easter hols they'll be on their own for one of the weeks, but I will be able to pop home for lunch and possibly every now and then. I know my dc's and am happy for them to be left under these circumstances. However DH recently wanted the pair of us to go to a city 200 miles away for the day for a special event, which would have meant leaving them from 9am to 10pm on a Saturday. I said no. The probably would have been fine, but it just felt like to much of a risk to be so far away and for such a long time.

Kewcumber Thu 06-Mar-14 12:54:45

I think the change to secondary is a big one for many children and I know paretns who have had to cut back on hours for a year or so afetr starting secondary because their child was struggling with the transition and leaving them alone afetr school for several hours wasn't ideal.

I suspect it harder to deal with this than a confident 10 year old in a primary school where they are stable and "top dog" and still don;t have much homework and there is probably afetr school care avaialble than an 11/12 year old just moved to secondary.

Blueskiesandcherrypies Thu 06-Mar-14 12:55:11

Thanks for all the replies.

Birthdaymuppet, on the remaining two days it's unlikely DH would be home later than 5.30.

ReallyTired Thu 06-Mar-14 12:58:07

It is hard finding the balance between encouraging independence and risk. Eleven years old is a high risk age for getting run over. It is a high risk age for children to take up smoking. Once pubety kicks (typicaly 13) in then there is the risk of teenage pregnancy and STDs in feral teens.

Its not just the risk of pregnancy and getting drunk, but teens often need someone to talk to. They need to know what to do in an emergency.

I think its a petty the OP can't get an Au pair to help with after school supervision.

PowderMum Thu 06-Mar-14 13:06:45

Just for balance, each of my DD came home to an empty house on the bus and the were alone for around 2 hours. DD2 had the advantage that usually DD1 was home with her. We never had any problems and the are now nearing the end of their secondary education.

GrendelsMum Thu 06-Mar-14 13:10:56

It worked for me when I started secondary (arrived home between about 4.30 and 5.30), home alone for between 1 and 2 hours, and I just made some toast and sat down and did my homework. But I had the choice to go to a childminders if I didn't feel happy, and a neighbour over the road was there in case of any problems. I only needed to ask her for help twice in all the time I was at secondary school.

Weegiemum Thu 06-Mar-14 13:15:16

I'm usually in when my dc get home. We're in Scotland - dd1 is 14 in S2 (Y8), ds is 12 in P7 (Y6) and dd2 is 10 in P6 (Y5).

Dd2 never lets herself in, ds has once or twice, dd1 has a key (and ds will in August when he goes to High School).

I'd happily leave dd1 home all day, ds maybe a few hours (totally glued to the coveted ps4) and dd2, I've left her when she's been off sick and I really had to pick up a prescription/buy actual food etc!

As a child, after my mum walked out I was at home 3.45-6.00 pm every weekday with my sister. I was 12 in S1, she was 10 in P6. My wee brother went to a childminder. I always felt horribly responsible.

I'd trust my dd1 and ds. Dd2 is a bit too ditzy yet - hopefully another year will help. I'm very lucky to have a school hours/terms job so I'm usually home.

Dd1 gets 2 buses across Glasgow city centre there and back every day and has since she was 12 in S1. Not a lot (drunks at 8.15, drug dealers, little old ladies with opinions !! scare her!

ShadowOfTheDay Thu 06-Mar-14 13:15:22

My girls are 11 and 13 and are home alone 2 days after school - til about 5.30.....

It is the little stupid things that go wrong... the window cleaner came.. they know not to let him in and he will post a card in the door to say he's been... but he left the gate open, they let the dog out to wee in the garden and he ran off down the road....

the girls corralled the neighbour (who we asked if they would be a point of contact before we decided they would be ok to be left) and the window cleaner (who had moved on to next door), and another neighbour into catching the dog - so no big problem... but the dog "could" have been run over/escaped forever, been taken etc etc

but - if the kids never meet adversity - how will they learn to cope? they did the right thing - ish - and learned to check the gate before they open the door...

5Foot5 Thu 06-Mar-14 13:18:24

I think it depends on the child.

When DD was approaching secondary school age I was unsure as to whether to put her in the after school centre neare her High School but she was adament she did not want to go there and wanted to be able to come home.

She is a sensible kid so in the end we agreed. She had her own key and would let herself in, get a snack and do homework etc. For the first few weeks she had to ring me as soon as she got in so that I knew she was home OK and, as I only worked a mile from home, I could have been back fairly quickly if she had a problem.

There never was a problem.

Her friend's mum didn't want to do the same for her DD so she re-arranged her working hours so she could be home earlier and would not give her DD a key for a long time because she didn't like the idea of her being in the house alone. But when the mum got held up, which happened fairly frequently, the poor girl ended up having to sit on the doorstep to wait. I know which I prefer.

TamerB Thu 06-Mar-14 13:20:17

Mine wouldn't have wanted to go to child care by then. They had a key and were much happier at home.

AphraBane Thu 06-Mar-14 13:24:12

Just to put this in perspective, the UK is currently much more risk averse than many other European countries on leaving older children alone. In Germany, for instance, there is still a widespread belief that in small villages at least, DC can go to and from school by themselves at 6 (although this is rare in big cities) and childcare is not generally available after the age of 10 for NT children.

In practice, many parents still feel a bit uneasy with DC at home alone all day during the holidays or for several hours every afternoon until the oldest DC gets to 11 or 12, but it wouldn't be illegal. It's also not an issue for us because I work from home so am always there, but we have no problem with them being on their own for a few hours as an exception (that started when they were 11 and 8).

It's also interesting that children from countries where DC are given that extra responsibility at an earlier age do appear to be more mature and reliable than those who are babysat into their teenage years. But that's just been my experience.

kernowal Thu 06-Mar-14 13:29:24

We've had to do this since September. DD cycles home, unlocks & puts her bike away. She knows that once she is home, she mustn't answer the door to anyone and she must get on with her homework. She likes the responsibility. She also has to send us a text message to say that she has arrived safely & everything is OK. Our next door neighbour is usually around in case of emergency and I'm sure friend's parents would help if they could get to her more quickly than we could.

She's rarely at home alone for more than an hour, but she is booked in at a holiday club for school holidays, because I think a whole working day is simply too long for a 12 year old to occupy themselves.

Mmmbacon Thu 06-Mar-14 13:29:57

Dd is a latch door key kids now, we are rural so she 12.5 gets the school bus home and leaves herself in, its about 2 hours a day, she makes a snack, no cooking, and.does her homework,

I wouldn't have done it last year, but she is grown up so much in last year, we also have great neughbours and she gets off the bus with 3 others, we have built in safety such as going to next door if she forgets key etc, but so far she has never had to do this, we also have house alarm so again added security for her,

I would also teach them how to make a snack carefully too....

Stinklebell Thu 06-Mar-14 15:30:09

I have a 12 year old in Y7. She's left at home for shortish periods, she doesn't like being left for too long though, and is not keen on us being too far away.

She's fairly sensible and quite mature, I trust her not to set the house on fire and have neighbours on hand so I would be quite happy if it was a couple of hours + but she gets a bit worried if I'm more than an hour or so

Totally depends how long it would be until one of us got home and how far away we were (I work from home so it's not a problem for us)

kentishgirl Thu 06-Mar-14 15:31:47

I think it's very normal for a secondary school child to look after themselves for a couple of hours.

mouldyironingboard Thu 06-Mar-14 15:32:45

My children are adults now but thinking about this it really does depend on how sensible they are. Among my neighbours, I know of 14 year olds who really can't be trusted and 11 year olds who can.

Chunderella Thu 06-Mar-14 16:02:53

It's a tough one isn't it. Assuming NT, I think it depends a lot on the maturity of the child and also what trouble is freely available. Do their schools do any after school activities like sports, drama, film club etc? That might be an option if you're worried.

whatever5 Thu 06-Mar-14 16:07:39

Do their schools do any after school activities like sports, drama, film club etc? That might be an option if you're worried.

I don't think that's a good option as in the winter they would then be walking home/catching the bus by themselves in the dark.

OwlCapone Thu 06-Mar-14 16:10:06

It depends entirely on the child.

Is working in the school library likely to be an option? DSs are allowed to stay in their's until about 5:30 and it gets some HW out of the way with fewer distractions. Obviously you won't know this until you know which secondary school smile

OwlCapone Thu 06-Mar-14 16:11:09

I don't think that's a good option as in the winter they would then be walking home/catching the bus by themselves in the dark.

How times have changed. smile We used to do this all the time when I was at school.

ShadowOfTheDay Thu 06-Mar-14 16:20:39

mine have to get the bus home then walk in the dark in the winter anyhow... it is not any harder to do than in daylight...

whatever5 Thu 06-Mar-14 16:24:23

How times have changed. smile We used to do this all the time when I was at school.

We didn't (in the 80s). I only went home with my friends if it was dark. Perhaps it depends on where you live though. Anyway, to me it doesn't seem a better/safer option for an 11 year old than being in the house for an hour by themselves .

OwlCapone Thu 06-Mar-14 16:33:44

80s, Greater London Borough. It was never an issue.

Cigarettesandsmirnoff Thu 06-Mar-14 16:37:52

My dd1 had to get bus sand train at 7am in he dark

whatever5 Thu 06-Mar-14 17:29:30

mine have to get the bus home then walk in the dark in the winter anyhow... it is not any harder to do than in daylight...

My dd catches the bus and walks home in the dark too but she is with other school children. If she stays on at school for an hour or so for some reason, I collect her if it's dark.

carabos Thu 06-Mar-14 17:31:23

My friend started a new job in December and negotiated a 4pm finish so that she could collect her DC from school homework club. The Dd is in her A level year and DS is 14... DD can drive and has her own car. They live on bus and train route. My friend also accompanies DD when she goes babysitting because "she's too young to be left on her own with a baby".

She's planning to go with DD and her friends to a festival this summer as it will be their first one and they might be frightened.

Each to their own, but I don't remember being frightened at Knebworth in '79 for Led Zeppelin. I was 16...

This is one of those decisions that only a parent can make because you know your children best.

sandyballs Thu 06-Mar-14 18:37:43

grin carabos. Poor kids.

My year 8 DDs come home to an empty house twice a week. They've been doing this since mid year 7 I think. They're happy with it, make themselves a snack, supposed to do homework but it's usually ipad or tv. Me and DH are about 15 miles away but we have great neighbours.

Chunderella Thu 06-Mar-14 19:17:13

I was thinking of them being collected en route home whatever, but you're right that may not be possible.

susiedaisy Thu 06-Mar-14 19:20:56

For an hour yes, depending on the child, but I wouldn't leave them for longer than that. Mine are now 13 and 16 and I've only just started leaving them for several hours at a time.

PowderMum Thu 06-Mar-14 19:48:37

Susiedaisy - this just shows how different parents have different ideas, at 13 and 16 my DDs would be coming home on the bus, letting themselves in and looking after themselves every day for around 2 hours.
By 16 there were no restrictions on cooking etc and they open the front door especially during school holidays when they would be home alone from 8am to 6pm and often order things from ASOS or Amazon.

They are allowed to go out or have friends over as long as they let me know who or where they are.

They've managed to survive so far and are now at 14 and 17 very independent young women.

alistron1 Thu 06-Mar-14 21:05:08

I think that if they are getting to/from school independently then being home alone for a couple of hours isn't a problem. Especially in this age of mobile phones, emails etc.

I remember my DS1 in Y7 informing me that he was more likely to come to harm at school than home alone when I was having a training day/work clash childcare dilemma.

Fusedog Thu 06-Mar-14 21:24:08

YABU it depends on there level of maturity my nephew is really badly behaved so for his own safety and everyone else's he still gose to a childminders after school

He's the type of boy who would hang round the shops after and get up to all sorts

missymayhemsmum Thu 06-Mar-14 22:45:28

My DD and DS decided (aged 13 and 11) that when we moved they didn't need a childminder. DD met DS from school, they walked home, they let themselves in, made a snack, did homework, watched telly, or signed up for after school stuff. I kept my mobile on and checked in from work and they had my best friend in the next street as back up. I wouldn't have left them all day, though, and my DD has always been really sensible and mature (and kept her brother under her thumb by threatening him with being sent to a childminder and not being allowed to play out).

NotEnoughTime Fri 07-Mar-14 10:47:06

I think a couple of hours after school "home alone" is ok for most year 7's a couple of times a week (in fact it's probably good for them) I know my DS enjoys the freedom and responsibility.

It's the school holidays I find difficult as I don't think it is wise for kids of this age to be left all day on their own at home, although I appreciate all children are different.

shewhowines Fri 07-Mar-14 11:54:27

I do it occasionally with my yr 9 and yr 7. They both prefer it if they are together though. normally hate each others guts

sunshinemmum Fri 07-Mar-14 12:00:20

I couldn't leave my 12 year old just yet (autism) but I could see the average 12 year would be ok for a short amount of time. I'd be more comfortable with a 14 year old as it is within the guidelines.

I would have no problem with DD1 coming home and being here for a couple of hours, she's year 7. In 18 months I'll have finished my course and be working shifts and DH won't be home til 6ish. We've already discussed it and agreed that DS will go to ASC (Y2 then) but the DDs in Y9 & 7 can come home until he gets back.

smoothieooo Fri 07-Mar-14 12:20:43

I had this problem with DS1 and 2 who were in year 7 and 8 at the time. STBxH and I had just separated and he did shift work which meant that previously he was on hand a lot after school. DS's go to different secondary schools so DS2 was at home for at least an hour before his brother got home and I returned at 6.30 each day. Plus they didn't get on at all (youngest would bully his brother). Eventually I sat down with them both and had a chat about how difficult it was for me to continue leaving them at home and that I would have to look for an after school childminder. Neither of them wanted that so both bucked their ideas up a bit. I used to set them chores and get them to start dinner occasionally which helped. It's much easier now they're in years 9 and 10 - but they still don't really get on (chalk and cheese) sad

SingingGerbil Sat 08-Mar-14 10:29:18

My son will be in year 7 and will still be going to his grandma's after school at least for the first year, if not the second as well. I don't get back til 5.30 and I think it is a long time for an 11-12 year old to be on his own. He does go and play in the field opposite her house so has freedom.

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