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  1. #31
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    it's common practice in Finland for children to walk to and from school from age 7 when they start primary. Because of the staggered starting and finishing times parents cannot always pick up and drop off kids (my son starts at 10am one day and finishes between 12-2.15pm). My son hasn't started yet as I have to take his siblings to nursery, so I'm driving around anyway, but we're going to have his father or grandmother take him on the bus/walking route soon as I'm due to have the baby soon and my mum may need to take him to school, so it would be a good chance for him to learn it.

    He's not ready to do it on his own yet, but some children are and it's up to the parents to decide if the child is ready, if the route is safe, etc.
    Mum to Mousie, Foo, Bumptious and Pudding.

  2. #33
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    My personal experience:

    I was allowed to walk to school/back from school if my sister was ill so my mum could look after her. Only 1km and traffic lights at the busy roads. I walked 1.9 miles to school with peers at age 11/12 but I was terrified to do it alone. Now I walk to school myself [1 mile] and am aged 15. I think that a child should start walking to school when they move to secondary school or the end of Primary if the school is near.

  3. #35
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Hmm, well: I never walked to or from school because it was much too far; I tried one time when I was about 11 and ended up stopping at a friend's house to call my mom to come pick me up because I was tired.

    I can understand that seeing a 7-year old walking home alone freaked you out. But at the same time I think we are often too sheltering on kids these days.

    My sister has a friend with a 6-year old and a 4-year old and I often see one or both of them out riding their bikes on the main road of our city. Or they'll ride their bikes to the parks nearby. Sometimes she's with them, but most of the time she lets them wander on their own.

    And while it usually sets my heart beating faster at the thought of something bad happening to them, I also admire her parenting style in that.

    I remember being a kid and being allowed to wander the neighborhood. My mom would simply yell from the back porch when it was time to come home and my sister and I would run home together. I was maybe 5 then. My 4 1/2 year old niece would never be allowed to be outside on her own to play. Ever. And while I understand that we're all much more aware of potential dangers now, it also makes me sad. Cause at age 5 I was roaming the neighborhood with all the kids nearby, aged 5-12, and we would build clubhouses and play wildly imaginative games and make up intense tracks to race our bikes together. And my niece...can be supervised by an adult while she plays at the playground. I just sometimes feel like, are we, in the name of safety, smothering our kids these days?

    In my undergrad I had a professor who really liked the book Freakonomics, and he often referenced how media makes us overestimate danger; For example, one summer shark attacks were widely reported and there was a noticeable decline in vacations to beach areas...but the actual number of shark attacks was actually lower than usual; it was just that we don't usually hear about shark attacks, so it seemed higher. Are abductions the same? Aren't kids safer than they've ever been? But we're more worried about abductions now than we were twenty-five or fifty years ago.

    I honestly don't know. I really want my kids, when I have them, to have the type of childhood I did. I want them to be able to roam the neighborhood in packs, getting into mischief. I don't want to coddle them and make them afraid of leaving the house alone. And I also want them to be safe.

    The Free Range Kids book looks interesting, I'm going to have to check it out.

    Ultimately, here's my opinion: the mom of that 7-year old has to do what she feels is right for her kid. At 7 he can understand that the street is busy. If she's allowing him to be alone, you should assume she's worked extensively to teach him traffic safety and stranger danger. Just trust that she is doing what she feels is best for her kid and try to be supportive of that; and if you have a strong reaction against that, take that into account when you have your own kids and use it to shape how you will parent. Just don't assume that she's being a bad mother or somehow negligent because she's doing something different than what you would do in that situation. And know you're a good friend and neighbor by keeping an eye out on her kid.
    I hope to be a mom one day. For now I enjoy being a name lover.

    My apologies for any typos; i post from my mobile phone.

  4. #37
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Quote Originally Posted by ameliawilliams View Post
    And know you're a good friend and neighbor by keeping an eye out on her kid.
    I think this is one of the differences between raising children now and 50 years ago. Back then everyone kept an eye on children playing in the neighborhood and there were a lot more children playing outside.

    When I take a look at my own neighborhood there are always children outside and also other people keeping an eye on them. If I were the parent of one of them stranger danger would not be my main concern. Cars however would be.

    People seem to underestimate children a lot. I think they are capable of a lot more than we keep them credit for.

  5. #39
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    In regards to letting your kids play outside by themselves, I remember reading an article about that here:
    And this fantastic response to said article:
    New username is @ truenature

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