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Advice re Year 7 travelling to school(22 Posts)
Some advice please!
My DS has started Year 7 in Sep. We are in London and he has a 40 minute journey to school involving 2 buses and a short 5 min walk in between.
He seems fine doing this by himself and is getting used to the route and alternative routes if needed etc. Seemed fine to me and I assumed that’s what most Y7s did.
But I have had numerous people telling me I need to pick him up myself especially if he’s doing after school clubs as it’s dark then and too dangerous for him to come home alone. They all apparently do this and never let their secondary school children come home alone after dark!
However DS2 is at primary school and also sometimes does after school clubs. He’s too young to come home alone so I would need to cancel his clubs and bring him with me in order to pick up DS1. Do you agree this would be necessary?
For info it’s a busy route home through zones 2 and 3 and he doesn’t go near any ‘dodgy’ areas or anything. And DH is at work so can’t help.
I would need to pay someone to pick one of them up as obvs can’t be in 2 places at once and honestly I didn’t think it would be necessary. Please tell me I’m right! Or if not, how you manage a similar situation.
Btw I’m not talking about super late - coming home himself around 5 or 6pm maybe
Also in zone 2/3 London- vast, vast majority of secondary schools travel independently here. Buses, tubes and trains. I will occasionally pick DD up if she has something on after school but only if convenient.
DD's all girls' school strongly encourage independent travel.
I'm in London and my DS in year 7 comes home on train on his own (well usually there are a few of them travelling) but he does this if he stays for after school clubs and is on his own as I am at work too. There are always lots of kids on the tube, trains and buses travelling too and from school. You could walk and collect him from the stop so he's not walking back in the dark possibly? Assume he has a phone and you could download a tracker - I have this so can see he's got home, or where he is, as he's home before me. Buses have cctv and will be busy at that time of day. Is he confident travelling on his own? Perhaps you could talk to him about being alert and a bit streetwise to potential dangers in a gentle way so as not to scare him.
Zone 2 here. Yr7 DS travels out on a school bus to zone 5 as we are on its route but all his cohort in his new school and those from his old school travel independently on many forms of public transport and often quite early/late for clubs. Our very nurturing primary school encouraged independent travel in the last term of yr6 in preparation for this inevitability.
I track DS as occasionally walk pick him up from the bus stop on days where he has 2 bags and a laptop. I can see where he is and work out when to leave so we coincide. I highly recommend the tracking app Life360 (free version is adequate) as it's a way better real time tracker than Apple's FindFriends and you get an auto alert when they move in or out of a specified location. eg 'DS arrived at school'. I'm a mollycoddler by nature but think it's bonkers that you're being asked to collect!
There are always people like this but kids travel alone all the time. Download life 360 if you're paranoid and tell him no headphones and sit at the bottom deck. It's not like he's coming home alone at 10pm from a play! 5-6pm is such a busy time with tons of commuters. He will be fine. The first winter commuting alone is hard as it gets dark so early but tons of kids do it.
I would let him travel independently if he's happy to do so.
I do think a lot of parents these days are very over protective of their DC.
Plenty of parents tell me that I am unreasonable to let my secondary school age DD walk home after ASCs - it's 15 minutes walk and normally still broad daylight when her club finishes.
Op your DS is totally to find to come home by himself. Well done him and you for attaining that level of independence. There is nothing wrong with walking in the dark. Assuming he is not coming through a rough and dangerously empty area!
I do worry a bit about what will happen to kids who are picked up and cosseted as pre teens - when will it stop and how will they cope?
My three DDs had a similar commute, also zones 2 and 3, and we never ever collected them. We don’t have a car, so it wouldn’t have been easy. I don’t think it was common for children to be collected at all. It seems more common if the children are at an independent school.
Thanks for the advice! I knew I couldn’t be the only person who doesn’t pick up their Y7 every day. I think it just happens that the parents I know who have Y7s also just happen to be available to pick them up everyday and think anyone who doesn’t is being neglectful. I haven’t met many of the other parents at DS’s school yet but I’m fairly sure that most of them come home on their own too as they come from all over London and I’m sure most parents must have other kids/jobs etc.
I’m happy with my Y7 dd coming home at that time by herself, and doing the (not very well lit but short) walk back from the bus stop. I get the impression some other mums see me as being odd for giving dd this much freedom, so I know where you’re coming from on this, but I do think that it’s important to let them have their independence and for you not to limit your younger DS2’s clubs etc.
It almost sounds like they want you to change so they can feel less guilty about their own overprotectiveness .
I can almost imagine little Johnny is complaining that your ds gets to travel alone and why can’t he and their mother thought «hmmm if Kitty Junior is picked up in future little Johnny will stop complaining - I will just have wordwith Kitty»!
No need for you to help sort out their one issues and situation by changing your own more than reasonable arrangements.
Think about it rationally. Probably traffic is the biggest so no headphones and make sure coat and bag have some reflective strips and make sure he knows the danger and send him on his happy way. Otherwise when do the kids get to learn?
Just adding to what the others have said - we're in Z2/ inner London, my ds and all of his friends travel on public transport to and fro school in a far from leafy area. It's totally normal.
DD in Y8 travels from zone 3 to zone 2 for school. She does it on her own unless she is especially late with a rehearsal or performance or something when I have picked her up (like 8 or 9pm at night). On those occasions, I worked something out with other parents so we shared the pick ups. 5 or 6pm is fine IMO. It's the height of rush hour so plenty of people around.
I think it is perfectly normal and acceptable - even desirable - for secondary school pupils to make their own way home at say 6 pm. In year 7-8 I would sometimes walk over to meet my DC at the bus stop 5 min from home as our road is a bit dark and quiet.
One thing I would highly recommend is buying some reflective tap to put on rucksacks and coats to ensure your child is visible to motorists after dark.
Oh for heaven’s sake! Who are these loons?
It is perfectly normal fo Yr 7s to travel in zones 2&3 at 5 or 6 pm.
It’s rush hour.
On well lit busy streets.
My zone 2/3 S London DC would have been mortified to have been met from secondary school clubs.
Our very nurturing primary school encouraged independent travel in the last term of yr6 in preparation for this inevitability.
Did they also encourage you to track your children?
Mine came home alone age 10 from secondary (change early here) clubs all finished at 4pm admittedly and only one bus
no you shouldn't have to pick up your child every day from secondary school (unless dangerous location transport wise etc or other safety reasons).
I am a great believer in teaching children of secondary age to have trust in their own ability to be independent as well as believing that as parents we HAVE to force ourselves to let go a bit and give them this opportunity. Doesn't mean we don't worry about them or take their safety and well being seriously but we are trying to help them grow and develop.
40 minutes isn't long really, my journey home at that age took longer, walking across a city, train and then walking so I suppose fewer variables such as bus delayed meaning missing another bus but on busy routes then hopefully there will be plenty of other buses.
As long as the child is confident about where to be and when, what to do if something goes wrong, has a phone with them and has a fall back plan if something major happens transport wise (ie knows to call you and go to x location or to someone else's house) then I think your approach is fine. I would caution him to be streetwise (don't walk along with headphones on, don't walk along talking on mobile - I keep reading about people being targets for muggings if their phone is in view, be sensible etc and also what to do if he did think he was being followed or something so go into a shop, stay very visible in a busy area that kind of thing) but otherwise unless he is really nervous then he should be fine.
@Wildorchidz The school required them to have a phone if they were walking home alone. I don't remember being told to use a tracker but do remember realising that my ideals of giving DS a Nokia brick were not compatible with my need to see where he was when he first started making the journey alone. The smartphone option allowed tracking which alleviated all my fears and allowed me to 'rescue' him when I saw the tracker shooting off in the wrong direction (wrong bus) but also opened the whole WhatsApp can of worms...but that's another thread entirely
I would think it’s fine.
We’re not in London, but dd2 year 7 has to often do the 40 minute walk home alone, lots of busy roads to cross. If she has a club after school she’ll walk to where I work instead, but that’s 20 mind across even busier roads. It’ll be getting dark in the winter and she’ll still be doing it.
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