What Age Should Children be Allowed to Walk To and From School?

Today’s guest blogger is Kirsty McHugh, PA to Margaret Carmichael.

I am mum to a nine year old daughter in P5 in East Renfrewshire and she is an only child. We live in a good area and about a mile away from her school  with two roads to cross (one on a quiet street) and one on a main road with a zebra crossing (although no lights or lollypop person).

My daughter has noticed that her friends are walking to and from school (although in groups) and she is at an age where she also wants more independence and to do the same.  She has no friends who live nearby so wants to walk home herself and is forever berating me that I am treating her like a 5 year old!

I am all for encouraging my daughter to become more independent but I just can’t seem to let her do this.  I tried this week to drive her across the road so that she had no roads to cross but then she had a 10 minute walk home and I couldn’t help myself but park up ahead and watch her in the mirror.  She says this is cheating and that I should just go home and let her make her own way home.

I know some in her class (especially the boys) walk home alone but I just can’t let her do this.  I don’t know whether this is because as a mum I am not ready to let go or whether I feel she is not quite ready.

As a child, I remember walking a mile to and from school myself everyday from Primary 3 but I had no roads to cross.  Apart from being beaten up in P5 by a girl who went to a different denominational school, I can’t remember any bad incidents.  When I was 13, a man tried to get me into his car on the way home from school and I ran all the way home.  At the same age, my younger brother’s best friend (7) was knocked down and killed getting of the school bus to enter our Estate.  Am I being too over protective?

My daughter was only one when the Soham Murderer kidnapped and killed Jessica and Holly but I was deeply affected by this and even although I know the odds of this happening are rare, all I want to do is protect my daughter and ensure that she is safe.  I have school friend mums who share my concerns but others who feel that our kids will be suffocated if we don’t give them some independence.

I have decided to stick to my guns for the time being and we will walk home together.  I will even let her walk ahead of me if she wishes but until Primary 7, I will not let her walk home along.

Am I wrong?  I can bear being the bad mummy who treats her like a 5 year old but should she be allowed more freedom at age 9?  I know I could have done it at age 9 but she seems so immature compared to me at that age.

I would welcome feedback from other parents.  What should I do?

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4 comments on “What Age Should Children be Allowed to Walk To and From School?

  1. I was very interested in what your readers would say on either side of ” the pond”
    Children in a rural setting have a harder time getting to a safe place, with a safe person than a child living a more urban setting.
    Walk the entire route with your child. Think to yourself, if a person with bad behavior stopped my child, could they run to a safe place. If not, that becomes your answer.
    Children need to learn early about safety education. We need to empower thm with how to handle themselves in life’s tricky situations.
    I have just written a blog about this on BlogHer.
    My blog is called SafetyLady. The blog you might like to read is called Teach your Children Well.
    My book is selling in England, Scotland and Ireland, as well as the US.
    What Should You Do? Helping Children Protect Themselves in the Twenty-First Century. Tate Publishing 2010
    A safety guide for parents and teachers with children ages 5-13.

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