My kids have been back in school a couple of weeks now, walking themselves there without me. They’ve always walked to school, as we live within a quarter mile of their school, but in years past one or the other has been at an age where I had to handle the pickup. Now they’re old enough to walk on their own. This, I believe, is great for their independence and responsibility.
I did walk them the first two days of school. Those are the days when everyone’s getting used to the school, and things were just plain hectic around the school. We had people parking their cars around the corner from our house because the school lot and the rest of the neighborhood was so full. Even more so than the rest of the school year, I refuse to drive them the first days because we’d end up parked in our own driveway for the best possible spot.
I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not easy letting them walk on their own. Parents taking their kids to school are sadly not always the most alert for pedestrians, even when those tend to be other children. But I’ve taught my kids to be extra careful crossing near the school, and fortunately there are often other students and parents crossing at the same time.
That’s just one way walking to school encourages independence and responsibility. They have to decide when to cross a rather busy street to get to school. The street is only busy during the times people are dropping off or picking kids up, but during those times it’s really busy.
They’re also responsible for getting to school on time this way. Once they’re out that door, they can’t rely on me to remind them to keep moving, no matter what neat things they want to investigate on the way.
I also see benefits in how happy my kids are. They’re so proud to walk to and from school on their own, something I was allowed to do much younger. They have house keys for on the off chance that I’m not home when they get there (I don’t expect that to happen, but one can’t always plan for things) or if I lock the door and don’t hear the doorbell. They’ve had those for a while, actually, but now they have more chance that they’ll actually be used.
I know that we’re lucky. Not everyone lives all that close to their children’s school, or in neighborhoods safe enough to allow kids to walk there on their own. We have these advantages, and so mine walk rather than get driven to school. It’s fun, healthy and saves quite a bit of gas. Given the amount of traffic I’d have to get through, it’s also faster than driving them to school in our situation.
This is something I really encourage. Having kids walk to school has a lot of benefits. It’s really worth it if it’s a possibility for your family.