Walking to and from school in yrs 7 and 10

(74 Posts)
bambicat Thu 03-Oct-13 11:54:11

Help and advice needed to resolve a parenting conflict!
Is it better to let 2 brothers walk half a mile to and from school, weather and health permitting, or should they be driven by car? Many thanks.

exexpat Thu 03-Oct-13 11:56:28

Half a mile? They should walk! Why are you even asking? (Unless the half mile involves crossing a six-lane motorway or something silly).

DS has been walking the mile to school by himself since the second day of year 7; DD is year 6 and already walks more than half a mile to or from school by herself some days.

ZiaMaria Thu 03-Oct-13 11:56:56

Assuming they are mature enough, they should walk. At age 11 and 14(ish?) they are old enough to be able to manage half a mile alone.

motherinferior Thu 03-Oct-13 12:01:46

My 10 year old walks that distance to school every day on her own. Her 12 year old sister would die of shame if I even suggested driving her.

bambicat Thu 03-Oct-13 12:03:15

Thankyou smile Mum and Dad have very conflicting opinions on this and could really use some honest 3rd party common sense.

I can't think of any weather they couldn't walk in that wouldn't be more dangerous in a car tbh. Mine walk further than that and have done since yr 7 (still have to do primary school, school run so secondary aged DC have to fend for themselves!)

motherinferior Thu 03-Oct-13 12:04:42

Which parent is bonkers enough to think they should be driven?

Half a mile? At 11 and 14?

Is there a reason why you think they shouldn't be walking to school?
My ds2 is 10 and he cycles further than that to school.
Ds1 and dd have a 10 minute walk, a 15 minute train journey and then a 15 minute walk to school, they have been doing that since year 7

I think they would be horrified at the thought of me taking them and picking them up every day.

meditrina Thu 03-Oct-13 12:05:00

I think secondary pupils can (and should) make their own way to and from school unless there is an overwhelming reason why not. Walking half a mile, assuming adequate pavements, should be easily doable.

123bucklemyshoe Thu 03-Oct-13 12:05:00


And when you say "weather permitting" what weather could stop them from walking?

5madthings Thu 03-Oct-13 12:06:10

Of course they should walk!

Ds1 is in yr 10 and ds2 is in yr 7 and they get the bus but walk partway and both walked further than that at primary.

My ds3 and ds4 both walk further than that to get to primary, ds3 is in yr4 and will occasionally walk home on his own now.

curlew Thu 03-Oct-13 12:06:13

What is the reason for not wanting them to walk?

motherinferior Thu 03-Oct-13 12:07:33

Possibly if there was an actual tornado. But then you wouldn't be driving either.

Or if they had a leg in plaster.

MaddAddam Thu 03-Oct-13 12:09:23

Is this a joke? My secondary dc cycle or walk 1.5 miles every day, whatever the weather, I consider that a short commute to school. and the primary one walks 1/2 mile every day, again even in the most torrential rain. I wouldn't dream of driving them. But then I cycle 3x that to work whatever the weather and we're not big fans of car use for teeny trips.

curlew Thu 03-Oct-13 12:09:33

Or, to be fair, an enormous cardboard model of a motte and bailey castle to carry......

Preciousbane Thu 03-Oct-13 12:16:18

It is a five minute walk to DS school so we are lucky. At 9 I was walking two miles each way to school.

I am intrigued to know the reasons and what your part in this is.

titchy Thu 03-Oct-13 12:19:47

Who in their right mind would even question this - it's a 15 minute walk tops, and they are bloody lucky to have a secondary school so near.

Dear God I wonder about folk sometimes I really do.

bambicat Thu 03-Oct-13 12:20:39

I'm very grateful for the replies smile Mum and Dad are divorced and this became a cause of very upsetting and angry conflict last night, in front of the boys. I'm hoping this thread will help ease some kind of agreement or compromise.

curlew Thu 03-Oct-13 12:22:21

Why did whoever thought they shouldn't walk think that?

bambicat Thu 03-Oct-13 12:30:15

Mum thinks it's too far to walk and they shouldn't have to... Dad thinks the distance is fine...

in my opinion its perfectly fine. A 14 year old should be able to get themselves half a mile down the road, whatever the weather.

Have they never gone to school alone then?

redskyatnight Thu 03-Oct-13 12:33:20

Half a mile!!
Are the DC not mortified at the idea of being driven?

exexpat Thu 03-Oct-13 12:33:23

What do the boys think? Surely most of their friends would be walking from at least that distance - my DS would be mortified if I drove him to school every day.

I have even offered to take him/pick him up sometimes when it has been tipping with rain and he has had a sports bag and guitar as well as normal backpack to carry, and he has still refused...

impecuniousmarmoset Thu 03-Oct-13 12:34:18

My 5-year-old walks further than that most afternoons! Quite often, so does my 3-year-old. Wow - half a mile, too far to walk, for two teenagers?!

HavantGuard Thu 03-Oct-13 12:35:26

Walk, whatever the weather. The only exception would be if they lived somewhere seriously dangerous.

motherinferior Thu 03-Oct-13 12:35:30

Surely one of the whole points of school is the after-school Loitering In a Pointless Sort Of Way, interspersed with Trying To Attract The Attention Of Girls? You can't do all that if you're being hustled off in a car. You can only gaze wistfully at everyone else Loitering.

exexpat Thu 03-Oct-13 12:38:01

True, motherinferior. There is also the 'pooling small change with your friends so you can buy a huge bag of doughnuts from Sainsbury's to share and still arrive home claiming you are starving' thing. Very important for growing boys.

oh yes the loitering. It takes ds1 about an hour to get home from school because of the loitering.

Heymacarena Thu 03-Oct-13 12:42:03

Of course they can, and should, walk.

My DS has to walk 1/2 mile to the bus stop - from there he catches the public bus to school which is 5 miles away.

He has been doing it since Year 7 without incident.
On the other hand DSSs have been chauffeured to and from school by their DM, now in 6th form- and have yet to master the art of catching a bus..

bambicat Thu 03-Oct-13 12:54:07

Dad completely agrees with motherinferior! smile Opinion seems to be unanimous, which is a relief... it's hard to be sure what's the best thing for the children when one parents is so adamant. Thank you!

curlew Thu 03-Oct-13 12:59:50

I hope this isn't going to be a drip feed and they live in downtown Beiruit or something.........

bambicat Thu 03-Oct-13 13:04:29

Don't worry curlew, they live in a nice part of an ordinary northern town, route is not too bad, mostly residential roads.

Feelslikea1sttimer Thu 03-Oct-13 13:05:08

My children Yr 8 and yr 11 have been walking to school since starting middle school in year 5 and that was 1.5 miles away. (my youngest actually walked home from the end of yr 3, but that was only down the road with no roads to cross)

They now go to school 4 miles away and get the school bus, but if they miss the bus or get a detention, I make them walk!

They're plenty old enough to be responsible and they have only missed the bus once... They soon learn ;)

AnythingNotEverything Thu 03-Oct-13 13:06:27

My 13yo DS walks almost half a mile to the bus stop in all weathers. He only gets a lift on the rare occasion that someone is leaving the house in the car at the same time as him.

HavantGuard Thu 03-Oct-13 13:06:42

Children need physical exercise and most don't get enough. Daily walking is ideal. It's hardly far!

DS1 (Y9) and DS2 (Y7) walk (unaccompanied by an adult) 1.5 miles each way in all weathers (further on Games afternoon as the field is at a different site). They would both be too embarrassed to ask for a lift for a 0.5 mile journey unless they were on crutches or something.

DD and DS3 (both Y5) walk 0.5 miles each way unaccompanied by an adult. It will be further once I am confident they can safely cross roads unsupervised. We are working towards this happening by their tenth birthday.

Now, I do walk with him at present as he is only 7 but my ds has walked that distance in ALL weathers simce nursery. I don't drive so no exceptions, even if its bucketing it down. But, he is still walked when dh is home.

When in year 7 ( before year 7!) he will be walking alone.

LifeHuh Thu 03-Oct-13 13:10:36

Definitely they should walk! If only my DS (13) could have a walk like that instead of being cooped up on the school bus.
I am with the poster who said it would be kind to take them in if they are accompanied by any large cardboard models though - is "making a motte and bailey castle" a nationwide rite of passage? smile

I did pick DS1 up from school on the day he brought home the full-size coffee table he'd made in Tech Club.

hettienne Thu 03-Oct-13 13:16:12

Half a mile is what - a 10 minute walk? Maybe 15 if the dawdle?

Getting in a car is more dangerous!

SatinSandals Thu 03-Oct-13 13:33:51

Dad is right, of course they should walk.

motherinferior Thu 03-Oct-13 13:36:02

I reckon that counts as picking up the table, with DS1 as the accompaniment grin

DD2 now gets highly offended if I even suggest accompanying her to school. I get a walk home with her twice a week, as a reward for good behaviour. (I am one of those people who rather loves the school gate.)

titchy Thu 03-Oct-13 13:39:32

' it's hard to be sure what's the best thing for the children '

Errr really? No, it's not hard. Even if you don't have children. It is NOT difficult to see that a 15 minute stroll to school is perfectly normal, and to think otherwise is completely and utterly barking. I assume their mum has some, err, issues?

bigTillyMint Thu 03-Oct-13 13:43:39

Half a mile? It's a 10min walk, probably with friends. A no brainer for me.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Thu 03-Oct-13 13:49:44

OP I'm going to hazard a guess that you are stepmum?

If so, I congratulate you on wording your post - common sense prevailed in the replies wink

NoComet Thu 03-Oct-13 13:50:12

Ny DDs jump of the bus a stop early and do that on purpose to go to the shop quite often.

Only on wet nights in the depth of winter do I ask them not too as its a single track lane with dark hedges.

But if they had to do it in all weathers they would just have bright colored macs to stick on once out of sight of their mates.

bambicat Thu 03-Oct-13 14:07:26

Thankyou ChinaCupandSaucers smile And everyone, for your honest, reassuring and helpful replies. It shouldn't even be an issue, but has caused so much upset. Mumsnet, you are ace x x

Lottie4 Thu 03-Oct-13 14:38:20

We're really lucky to live close to the school, but many of my daughter's friends have over a mile to walk and have been doing so since the start of Year 7 on their own. Often end up at our house enroute but I have all parents tel nos. if there is a problem. I'm surprised your boys aren't protesting at having parents drop them off, many wouldn't want their parents anywhere near the school. The only thing I would say is to make sure they both have a mobile. That way they can get in touch if they have any worries. They will probably enjoy meeting up somewhere with friends and walking with them.

Starbuck100 Thu 03-Oct-13 15:10:20

Out of curiosity, do most parents let an 11 year walk to school alone (versus walking to school with a parent)? I just moved here and have a child to start secondary next fall. Perhaps its just where I'm from and what I'm used to, but I can't imagine letting him go alone. I asked him what he thought, and he had no desire to go it alone either. Granted we just moved so he's still settling in, but still. Am I going to be the lone parent playing the over-protective role next year?

PatriciaHolm Thu 03-Oct-13 15:13:51

Starbucks - here you would be, yes! Every secondary child I know gets themselves to school here, as long as it is walkable. Several also get buses. Virtually unknown to drive unless you absolutely need to.

My DCs would have been mortified if I had walked them to school in year 7.
Practice the route in the summer holidays so they are ready,let them arrange to meet their friends

Tbh most of the year 6 walk to school alone here anyway.

motherinferior Thu 03-Oct-13 15:17:29

It's a big social ritual, the walk or bus ride, from Y6 up, I've found.

I remember it well grin

motherinferior Thu 03-Oct-13 15:18:05

Mind you it's more of a saunter than a walk. A loiter or a saunter. Depending on who's watching.

exexpat Thu 03-Oct-13 15:19:53

Starbuck100 - if it is the local/catchment secondary, and it is within walking distance or an easy bus ride, then yes, nearly all the year 7s will probably be going by themselves - or more likely in big gaggles of ones who live close together.

The only ones who get delivered to my DS's school by car are those who live miles away and whose parents work near the school. And I think even lots of them choose to get dropped a bit of a way away from the school and walk the last bit alone. No one - and I mean no one - walks to secondary school with a parent after the first couple of days. It would be social death.

By the time he has settled in to the area and made some friends in year 6, preferably ones who live close by, he will probably feel differently about it.

HmmAnOxfordComma Thu 03-Oct-13 15:20:55

Starbucks - I can't say I have ever known a secondary aged child be 'walked' to school. Some are driven if their parent is driving past to go to work and it's an easier/quicker route than using the public/provided transport (rural/semi-rural areas) but if walking distance, they ALL walk alone, especially at state schools.

My ds is in yr 8 at an independent and we live really close to school, and do still see him across the road towards school because a) it's a busy arterial route through the city with no crossings, b) he has SEN and terrible road sense, and c) it's nice to pop over to the school gate and chat to some of the other parents from time to time. However, the 'school gate' thing I don't think happens at all at state schools. Certainly not the ones I know of or have worked in. (Parents would collect from an afterschool rehearsal or sports event, of course, but not normal end of the day.)

hettienne Thu 03-Oct-13 15:28:02

I don't remember ever seeing a parent walk to or collect a child from my secondary school! I lived about 10 miles away and my mum walked me to the bus stop on my first day - that was it. My younger brother and sister didn't even get that!

motherinferior Thu 03-Oct-13 15:35:28

I did whizz DD1 to school the other day in the car but that was because she'd been cornered in her room by a cat with a dead squirrel (trufact) and had an 8.30 class...

On the rare occasion I drop DS and dd off, they get out of the car in the town and walk down with their friends grin

ShoeWhore Thu 03-Oct-13 15:48:34

Perfectly fine. My yr3 & 5 dcs walk slightly further every day - currently with adult supervision although I am thinking that by the end of yr5 I should let the older one walk on his own.

stringornothing Thu 03-Oct-13 15:54:56

I shudder to think of the health problems mum is storing up for herself in later life if she thinks half a mile each way is too far to walk. Unless she's already got mobility problems.

Starbuck100 Thu 03-Oct-13 15:55:34

Oh dear. Thanks for the insight. Now I'm all stressed out. Certainly don't want him to commit social suicide! But, he's so small for his age, and like another poster, has terrible sense for personal/road safety. I guess this is just another thing about parenting I will lose sleep over. Hopefully, once we know where he will be going to school, we can find a walking partner. Seems like kids from the primary end up all over the place though, so that might not work. Oy.

motherinferior Thu 03-Oct-13 15:57:42

He'll find his own loitering partners, don't worry. They move in packs.

KittiesInsane Thu 03-Oct-13 15:58:19

I would add 'playing the double bass on a day you also have cookery' to the motte and bailey/coffee table list.

Where do you live that the weather should be a consideration? The highlands? Outer Hebrides?

HavantGuard Thu 03-Oct-13 16:00:12

You have a year to improve his awareness and road sense.

ErrolTheDragon Thu 03-Oct-13 16:01:09

Starbuck - I'm guessing you're from the US ... when I lived there no-one seemed to walk anywhere so theres probably quite a culture shock! Also (if I've guessed correctly) your DS won't be used to cars being on the left side of the road. So do practice the route with him during the summer hols before he starts, identify safe crossing points etc. smile

Half a mile? That can't take more than about 15 minutes. Unless it is pouring with rain or they have loads of stuff to carry (PE kit, musical instrument and food tech stuff all at the same time for example) then they should walk.

I pick up my DS from school but he walks the 1st 0.5miles so I don't get caught up in the traffic at the school gate and I drive the other 1.5miles, but for 0.5 miles? No certainly no lifts.

KittiesInsane Thu 03-Oct-13 16:04:48

I do pick mine up twice a week, but that's a 5-mile walk (and even so DS sometimes opts to walk it rather than 'hang around for aaaaages').

exexpat Thu 03-Oct-13 16:20:44

Starbuck - most people start building up to it before secondary age by letting them walk small distances by themselves, eg to the park/shop/friend's house, and then make sure they are very familiar with the route to secondary by the start of term. By then you should also have an idea of what other children live nearby who will be going to the same school.

DD is 10 (in year 6) and has been walking back from school by herself occasionally for several months (final term of year 5). We live 0.7 miles from school (according to google maps) and it takes about 15 minutes. Before I let her walk it alone, I stopped at roads and asked her to tell me when it was safe to cross, checked she knew what cars would be doing at roundabouts etc. DS was walking to school by himself from age 8, but that was when we lived closer to their then school.

Taz1212 Thu 03-Oct-13 16:23:52

Oh my word! Definitely let them walk! DS(11) will go to swim practice after school today then walk 1/2 mile to the bus stop, ride the bus for 15 minutes until he gets to his father's office then phone his father to tell him to hurry up and finish work so they can go home on the train! If my not-terribly-focussed DS can negotiate public transport in the city on his own each week I'm fairly certain these boys can manage the walk to school based on the posts here. grin

DS walks the mile to school alone (Y7). He is very small for his age, and often encumbered by huge amounts of sports kit and books.
He specifically asked me not to walk with him, even on the first day!
He's been walking himself to school since he was in Y3, as the only road on the 1/2 mile to primary school had a crossing keeper.

mikulkin Thu 03-Oct-13 16:54:57

Starbuck - it really depends where you live and which school he attends. We live in Central London and though school is 15-20 minutes walk from us I walk my 12 yr old DS to school. He can do it himself if he wants to - but both of us find this to be a nice morning routine (I work full time) - quite a few boys from his school are also either driven to school or walked by their parents - so he doesn't feel at all like committing a social suiside.

If your DS doesn't feel like going on his own, walk with him, I'm sure he will tell you when he is ready to walk on his own.

AtiaoftheJulii Thu 03-Oct-13 16:57:15

I walked dd1 to school on her first day of secondary, claiming that I had to go out with the dog anyway ;-) But have calmed down with subsequent children. Dd2 wouldn't even let me go down the road to the bus stop with her, and ds cycled from day 1.

Half a mile is nothing, and should be walked. Most people don't even have secondary schools within half a mile, surely? Our closest ones are about a mile away.

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