If you live in close proximity to your child’s school, you might have the option of having them either take the bus or walk to school. It’s an easy decision to make if you live within eyesight of the school, but a longer distance that requires your child to walk a few blocks might give you cause for concern. While it’s great to teach your child about stranger danger and how to properly cross the street, there may still be some dangers that lurk with this situation. There are also some pros and cons to consider.
CON: They Might Get Lost
If you live many blocks away from school with a few different turns here and there, your child might end up getting lost. This risk gets higher the further you are away from the school. You can prevent this from occurring by having your child run through the route with you a number of times until they are comfortable with it.
PRO: It Builds Independence
If your child has to learn a route, walk to school by themselves and keep an eye out for danger as they go along, this is a great way for them to develop independence. They will learn how to react safely in a number of different scenarios. Allowing your child to be independent in walking home could help them to be confident in being independent in other aspects of his or her life.
CON: It's Dangerous
Walking from place to place can be an issue for both children and adults. With vehicles, people on bikes and other people on foot in the area, there is a danger you’re your child could get hit by a car, hit by a bike, harmed by a person, etc. Pedestrian injury is the second-leading cause of accidental death among children ages 5 to 14 in the United States. If your child is old enough to walk to school and understand these dangers, have long talks about what they should do in certain scenarios. Teach them the dangers of the world and stranger danger.
PRO: You'll Learn Not to Be a Helicopter Parent
Being a helicopter parent means that you are always watching what your child is doing. As a parent, you want to keep your child out of harm’s way, but it's also important to make sure that they can learn to be safe on their own. Constantly hovering over them will only make them dependent on you. Allowing for some independence will help teach your child, and it also teaches you how to let your child learn for themselves.
Before you let your child walk to school each day, the best thing you can do is to prepare them for what will come. If your child is prepared for different kinds of situations that could compromise his or her safety, accidents are less likely to occur.
If you want to teach your child about safety, reading our book, Where in the World?, is a great place to get started!