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Should I let my mature 7 1/2 year old DD1 walk to school/shops on her own?

(12 Posts)
swtb Mon 31-Aug-09 16:27:48

My DD1 is just about to start in year 3, the first year of juniors. She is the size of a 10 year old and always gets mistaken for an older child. She is very mature and enjoys the company of older children more than those her own age. She is however still only 7 and has lead quite a sheltered life so far. She's desperate to walk to school and the local village shops, both about 0.8 mile away along fairly quiet roads and then a busy road with a pelican crossing.

What doesn't help is that she has become very friendly with one of the girls next door who is 9 (2 school years older). Her mother has said that she can start walking to school with her year 5 friends when school goes back this week. They go to different schools so there is no plan to walk together.

Her younger sister (our DD2) starts school this week so I will need to take her to school anyway.

Any advice please?

prettybird Mon 31-Aug-09 16:35:29

We started letting ds walk to school occasionally when he was in P3 (equivalent of Y2) - a similar distance - although we did follow him secretly (he knew this - just not when we did it).

Last year he started doing so more regularly in the summer term (he proke his leg in febraury which stopped him doing so earlier) and we also started letting himwalk home from school a couple of days a week (helped by the fact that I was now at home, having been mde redundant).

SInce school started this year (middle of Agust in Scoltand) he has been walking to and from school without problem and we no longer even think about checking up on him.

How about you let her walk to school ahead of you a couple fo times - that way, she knows you are watching her from a distance. As you say, you would be needing to walk to school anyway.

And then see how things go from there.

BoysAreLikeDogs Mon 31-Aug-09 16:38:20

yes, shops first then build up to school

your child, you know how sensible she is

you may want to give her a password so that she does not go with anyone who does not know it

obv you would talk to her about stranger danger etc

children need to learn independence

sherby Mon 31-Aug-09 16:41:33


iheartdusty Mon 31-Aug-09 16:51:24

hmmm, I'm not sure. I too have a tall, mature nearly-8 yr old DD who longs for independence.

I have concluded 2 things. One, she really can't cross roads alone yet - and we've seen several examples of drivers speeding through the 'green man' near us. Two, that although she would be fine if all goes to plan, she doesn't have any clue what to do if something unexpected happened. eg - being chased by a dog or a loose dog barking at her, someone appearing to be following her, older children trying to get her to do something or being rude to her.
So for the time being, she's not going anywhere on her own.

Next year, I'll let her go up and down our local pedestrianised precinct with a friend.

in your situation, I would consider walking her with her friend as far as the crossing, seeing her across, then letting them roam the shops alone. Would that work? I'm not sure what you do for them to come back, through.

prettybird Mon 31-Aug-09 17:07:21

To supplement Iheartdusty's point, I would agree that it is also a function of your knowledge of your child.

Ds has always been very good with traffic- trained from as soon as he could walk and is very cautious about crossing roads. That contributed to our confidence of letting him walk on his own.

He is 9 in a couple fo weeks, so we must have started letting him walk when he was just over 7.

QuintessentialShadows Mon 31-Aug-09 17:25:36

My 7 1/2 year old son is going to and from school on his own. He has done this since March, just before he turned 7. It is a complicated route, with 2 major crossings. I started walking the route with him together. Then till past the second major crossing. Then till just before it, then to the first major crossing, etc. We built up to it over time, in this way.

I might be a lax parent, as I let him go to toilet on his own in our local shopping centre, from the Costa Coffee "across the centre court" (if I was busy feeding the baby, etc) from he was 3 1/2.

Takver Mon 31-Aug-09 17:42:45

Yes, I would, I have a 7.5 yr old who is just starting to walk places alone. I would probably practice first (walking with her but her making all the decisions about what to do) then maybe follow a bit behind with your dd2 a few times to check she isn't doing anything really random,but you know your dd & how sensible she is.
A lot of the year 3 children walk to/from school on their own at dd's school.

wilbur Mon 31-Aug-09 17:49:04

Ds1 (8.5 and going into Y4) has been going to the nearby corner shop on his own since he turned 8. He is reasonably mature (although still a dreamy 8 yr old at times), and the shop is very close by. He has to cross 2 roads, one is our own street and the other is a busyish road but it has a zebra crossing. So far, it is all going well and I like the independence it gives him (not to mention that he can buy us the papers on a weekend!). He can't go to or from school on his own until he is 10 so this is the first step towards that. Hopefully, sometimes next year, I will be able to let him up to the shops in the main bit of our town.

If anyone can make a suggestion about how to stop him buying crap with his pocket money once he gets to the shops, that would be great. grin

logi Mon 31-Aug-09 19:20:03

I think she is too young.

mumeeee Mon 31-Aug-09 21:36:37

7.5 is to young for a child to walk to school by themselves. Under 8's have to be taken and collected by an adult at the schools around here. Also hardly any children under the age of 10 walk to school by themselves.

prettybird Tue 01-Sep-09 10:09:37

Intersting the different attitudes and approaches.

Our smaller inner city (sort of - it is a mix of big houses and tenements) primary school lets children walk home pretty much at any age. In the Infants School (P1-P3 - roughly the equivalent of Reception to Y2 but slightly older), they would porbably only be able to leave the school unacompanied if the school knew that that was the arrangement (some of the kids literally live across the semi-pedestrianised road) but there are definitely no restrictions from P4 onwards.

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