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AIBU to let kids walk home from school

(28 Posts)
mrsglowglow Fri 30-Oct-15 11:13:32

They are Y6 and Y5. To allow them to walk home together and let themselves in with a key and wait for me to get home. They should be home by 3.40 and I should then get home by 4pm. It's a one off and they are both keen but I've got nagging doubts. The alternative would be to get them to walk to grandparents house and wait there for me. It's a slightly longer walk for them and they both say they'd rather walk straight home. They are starting to gain independence but have never walked home on their own before or let themselves in to an empty house. I'm thinking I need to first let them walk home alone when I'll be here to let them in and get used to that first or am I being neurotic?

CMOTDibbler Fri 30-Oct-15 11:24:44

I think if they've never walked home by themselves, then it would be too much as a first go. My yr5 walks home by himself, but we spent the summer when he was at holiday club (slightly further walk) practicing the road crossings and working up to coming all the way home. He hasn't come home to an empty house yet, and has only been in the house on his own once for 20 minutes

MirandaWest Fri 30-Oct-15 11:25:48

I think they should walk home on their own first when you are going to be in.

NuffSaidSam Fri 30-Oct-15 11:29:07

I wouldn't, just because they've never done any of it before and it seems a lot all at once.

My oldest two are yr5 and yr 6 too and I would let them do this, but DC1 has been walking home from school and letting herself in for a month or so. They've been left at home alone for 40 minutes/1 hour before as well so it wouldn't be anything new.

I don't think there is anything wrong age-wise iyswim, just that they've never done it before. I would go with letting them walk to their grandparents house.

BertrandRussell Fri 30-Oct-15 11:29:12

Do a practice run. There's no real need, but you will feel better about it. No, secretly, so might they.

But it's absolutely find to do.

CakeNinja Fri 30-Oct-15 11:31:28

I think it's fine if you have practised it with them and then let them have a go on their own while you're at home.
My dds walked home together aged 8&10 then 9&11 a couple of times a week although I was getting home at the same time as them.
Basically, build up to it in stages if you feel the need to but I wouldn't have a problem with this.

NuffSaidSam Fri 30-Oct-15 11:31:53

Just to add, my DC2 wouldn't actually be allowed to because they're not allowed to leave school alone until they're in yr6. I'd have to ask someone to escort him out the gate and then let him walk home with DC1.

chrome100 Fri 30-Oct-15 11:39:18

I think it's completely fine.

mrsglowglow Fri 30-Oct-15 11:51:23

Yes I think that's what is bothering me that they've not walked home yet alone. I know I need to get them doing this first and plan to start. They have stayed at home for up to 30 minutes before but this seems different to actually walking in to an empty house. I had a bad experience many years ago when I got home from work to find the front door had been chained on the inside and burglars were still in the house. It was 17 years ago in this same house and I have never forgotten the sick feeling and what I had to do at the time. But, I have never told the kids about this as I don't want to put fear in to them. I know I need to go through all the what if's to prepare them but how do you do this without scaring the hell out of them?

BertrandRussell Fri 30-Oct-15 11:59:10

They need a contingency plan in case they lose the key. That really is the only thing that is even remotely likely to go wrong. Or the door accidentally being bolted from the inside (not that that ever happened, oh no, I deny everything. And you were all right, anyway dd- I was back with the dog in 20 minutes and it was only raining a bit) And that contingency would apply to not being able to get in for any other reason. Neighbour? How far is grandma from your house.

redskybynight Fri 30-Oct-15 12:04:52

I think it's fine too. My Y5 DD does something very similar. Actually she quite often stops and plays in the park by school (full of school children) for 15 minutes after school so that she ends up getting home the same time as the adult. Which might be something yours could consider if they don't like the letting themselves in/being at home alone. Agree with others to practice the walking home (and letting themselves in with key) first though.

Re the whatifs - I think you ask them the questions and say something more general like "what would you do if you didn't feel comfortable getting into/being in the house on your own?" , "what would you do if you fell over on way home?" ... rather than going straight to doom and gloom situations.

noeffingidea Fri 30-Oct-15 12:07:17

Completely fine. I wouldn't think twice about this, but then I was a latchkey kid in the 70's smile

teenagetantrums Fri 30-Oct-15 12:16:37

seems fine to me my Y6 used pick up his Yr4 sister and they would be at home for an hour or maybe two before I got in from work. Obviously depends on your kids, if they are used to being home alone and know the rules. mine were allowed to use toaster but not cooker, no baths or showers, and no answering door to strangers. and I had neighbour on standby if they needed help, mind you this was 10 years ago..lol

Topseyt Fri 30-Oct-15 12:17:39

It will be fine I should think. I'd do it, following a couple of practise runs with you at home waiting.

The Year 6 in particular will need to be building independence and ability to get to school without you there in readiness for starting secondary school.

Set out ground rules to start with such as the agreed route they must take. No deviation from that if they haven't had your express permission etc.

If they had any difficulty on the day then presumably they could then just walk to their grandparents' house and you could get them from there?

blobbityblob Fri 30-Oct-15 12:21:03

I have a year 5 dc and I'd try it out whilst I was at home first. In theory should be fine but we have quite a few roads to cross and whilst it might seem straightforward it all goes a bit pear shaped if the lights at the crossing are out or a big lorry has parked on one side of the road, causing them to need to cross to the other with no crossing.

So sort of depends on what's involved I'd say but they've got to learn soon anyway and I'd talk through any obstacles first and give them a trial run.

myotherusernameisbetter Fri 30-Oct-15 12:31:51

Would you be happier if they just walked home more slowly and then played outside until you got back?

Mine always like a bit of a dawdle home chatting to friends etc when I stopped picking them up - it took them 10 minutes longer to do the short walk than when we did it together smile

I don't think there is any issue with doing what you are proposing though.

mrsglowglow Fri 30-Oct-15 12:55:20

Thanks all - some good advice here. Up til now have been lucky that grandparents can collect and stay with them til I get home (same in the mornings I leave at 8 and grandparents sit with them till about 8.40 before walking them down) but they are getting older and have health problems and I don't want to bother them to do it. Starting next week they can walk home on the days I will be home early and see how it goes.

myotherusernameisbetter Fri 30-Oct-15 13:16:49

Ah, I see it's to be a regular thing rather than a one off.

Even better, a couple of trial runs next week and then I'd let them get on with it. Get a key put on a springy thing and fasten to the inside of their schoolbag - probably best with a key each.

My DS was perfectly happy doing this and we moved on to him letting himself out and locking up behind him in the morning too (my neighbour had a spare key and for a while would check the door on her way back from school to check he'd locked it and he always had). Prior to that he had to leave with me and hang about the playground for a bit before school. He obviously preferred letting himself out - I set the cooker timer to beep when it was time for him to leave.

I do have nice neighbours though, some of which are SAHMs so there was usually someone for him to call or go to in case of emergency.

mrsglowglow Fri 30-Oct-15 15:34:41

Yes its time to start letting them go it alone. I started this post as there is a day next week that will be a problem for the grandparents to help out but really I'm now thinking long term. My neighbour does have a key and good idea to give them a key each. I'm finding it hard to think they're ready to stay home in the morning and leave at the right time but like prev posters have said my y6 will b in high school next year so have to start preparing now.

Abidewithme3 Fri 30-Oct-15 15:39:05

Yes fine after a practise.

If your door isn't a slam shut though impress on them the need to lock it from the inside.

My dippy teens forget to do this!

defineme Fri 30-Oct-15 15:50:28

My year 6 twins leave the house 20 minutes after i leave and get home 10 minutes before me every school day. They are fine and get on better as a result of having to work together as a team. They both have keys attached by long chains to their bags. They have no phone, but lots of neighbours to call on.

defineme Fri 30-Oct-15 15:54:39

We boiled it down 3 things: check cat's whereabouts, pick up your bag, slam the door!
They call for other friends on the way, so pressure to be on time for them seems to be keeping them leaving on time.

BackforGood Fri 30-Oct-15 15:59:57

I agree with most - obviously depending on the route, etc., but, as a generalisation I would expect a Yr5 and Yr6 to be able to walk home.
I also think that - like most things - the more 'parts' of what you are asking them to do themselves, they have done before, then the less of a big 'thing' it will be.
So - if you have time -
- make sure they've been home alone without you for 40mins or so
- make sure they are used to having a key / turning it in the lock / they know which way it turns / they know the "jiggle" that is specific to your door when it doesn't quite open smoothly / etc.
- make sure they've walked home without you, but whilst you are in the house
- make sure they've gone an knocked on the neighbours door on some errand without you there

and so forth. It all helps that little 'part' of it not be an issue.

clary Fri 30-Oct-15 16:06:11

I think it's fine but then I would say that - mine all walked home without me in yr 5/6.

They have to do it first sometime. Personally I would make it a regular thing - I am all for independence. Can they ring/text you once in? Is there an alarm they have to unset?

Chasingsquirrels Fri 30-Oct-15 16:10:39

My Ds2 is in yr 5 and has been walking to and from school on his own since Easter. I had to give written permission for him to leave school on his own rather than being collected in yr 4.

Since he went back in Sep I am more relaxed about whether I leave work in time to be home by the time he gets back. He has been playing at the park for 20/30 mins so generally gets home around 3.30pm. I'm usually back by then, but if he goes straight home then he could be home before me.
Ds1 gets in around 3.30pm as well.

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