Do you let your children walk to school?

20 Aug

Since I have always struggled with allowing Beloved to do activities alone, for fear that something would happen to her, she has never gotten to walk to school alone or with friends for that matter.  Our local elementary school could possibly be considered “in walking distance” if my child was training for a marathon but thankfully, all the schools are several miles away.  This made the walking to school debate easy, not happening.  Come to think of it, I don’t usually see any kids walking to and from schools, only the bus stops.  Perhaps my dreams have been answered and school walking has been banned!

Kids walking back to school with backpacks.
I realize the health benefits and know that for some children, this may be the only exercise they get…doesn’t matter, thinking of our children on the busy streets, lugging their huge backpacks, not paying attention because they have those crazy earphones in, scares me.  They are no longer tuned in to what’s happening around them, so it’s easy to fall victim to cars and sketchy persons.  Since it appears as if most of the kids are only walking to the bus stop anyway, I’ll turn my attention to that subject.

The weather is starting to cool off a bit and we’re ready for those breezy “winter” mornings.  Bonus from the clock gods, we get to set the time back. Yay, we all get an extra hour of sleep but that excitement ushers in a different evil.  It’s dark out now when these kids are trying to get their day started. The high school bus for our neighborhood picks up the half asleep, grumpy teenagers at 6:40am. Yes folks, you read that right; 6:40am.  Shouldn’t we still be in bed at that hour? 

Anyway, the bus stop is just a bit less than one mile from our house and many kids live further away.  That’s quite a walk for most children at the start of their day; I wouldn’t want to do it, particularly in the dark.  Once the kids have trudged their way to the bus stop, they must now wait on the curb of a busy street. This will be hard to believe, but most kids don’t just stand calmly waiting for their bus to arrive.

Boys are always poking someone, dunking something or wrestling friends to the ground.  Add that activity to dark streets and sleepy drivers, it’s a recipe for disaster.  And if your kid happens to be the bright light of their school and bounds out of bed each day eager to go learn science, then she’s the first one sitting at the bus stop ALONE.  Creeper down the street loves working under the cover of darkness.

Every winter, this same worry starts to plague me, this year; I’ve come up with a solution.  I will boost our economy by hiring parents to work at the stops.  Since it doesn’t appear as if they will volunteer on their own, let’s pay them for their time.  I pass several stops on my way to work with children of all ages, and none of them have parents waiting.  I’ve actually seen parents drive their kids to the bus stops, in pajamas, then drop off kid and head home.  In the dark.  Why not stay and make sure nothing happens?  Or at the very least, keep your kid in the car with you until the bus arrives.  What do you need to rush home for?

As a helicopter parent, this risk was more than I could get my mind around so we’ve always driven Beloved to school and of course, this year she’s taking online courses so, traipsing the neighborhood is unnecessary.  I do still worry for those children that don’t have the luxury of our choices though.  I pray for their safety, I pray their parents will wake up and smell the roses coffee diesel fuel and I pray for the drivers passing them on the crowded streets.

Please be vigilant now that school is back in session and if you find yourself with a few extra minutes each morning, I’ll meet you at the bus stop.

Hovering high and low, Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad

15 Responses to “Do you let your children walk to school?”

  1. Aubrey February 11, 2015 at 5:04 PM #

    This is a really good question. I hope to walk with my son to school when he starts next year and drive him on the days it’s too cold or rainy (or we’re running late! Ha). The bus stop is right in front of our house, too, so when I feel like he’s old enough and ready to ride the bus, I don’t have to worry much about that. But it’s different for each child and what the parent is comfortable with. I walked a short distance to and from my bus stop as a child, sometimes even letting myself in with a key. I felt prepared because my parents had taught me what to do. (And not to be a commercial, but if you want extra, simple training for your kids, check out Safe Kids 101.) Thanks for the thought-provoking post! (Stopping by from #typeaparent )

    • Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad February 12, 2015 at 5:48 PM #

      Thank you for commenting, I appreciate it. I’m going to check out the site you sent me. I always walked to/from school as a child too, or rather biked alot. Times have changed.

  2. Lexie Lane October 5, 2014 at 10:30 PM #

    I actually thought about this as I was looking at a kid that looked like he was only 5 years old, walking home from school.We are shocked when bad things happen to kids but sadly … Thank you for this post and for spreading the word about this.

  3. Kathleen October 4, 2014 at 12:56 AM #

    We were lucky. The bus stopped right at the end of our driveway, so I didn’t have to worry about them walking on a busy street. I would have driven them had that not been the case. You’re right. You have to be vigilant always. Kids have their heads in the clouds.

    • Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad October 4, 2014 at 9:10 AM #

      That must have been wonderful to have the bus so close. Of course, then your yard becomes the “hangout”!

  4. Pam October 3, 2014 at 6:38 PM #

    This always worries me. We are in the same boat, too far to walk so was not an issue. However, there is the issue of walking to a friends house.
    So far I have skirted that one quite nicely, but I know it will happen.

    Pam

    • Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad October 4, 2014 at 9:11 AM #

      Yes, it comes soon enough. I started to think, well if she walks it will take longer and that’s scary so we considered bike riding and of course the kids love it; then you sit home worried that a car will hit them. Just when we thought we’d finally worked through “our issues”; she started driving. UGH!

  5. Tara October 3, 2014 at 9:46 AM #

    Soooo glad I don’t have to worry about that (because I so would!). We do online school as well and the kids love it.

    • Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad October 4, 2014 at 9:13 AM #

      My daughter did her last two grades online and we had a wonderful experience. Great teachers, no complaints. Loved it.

  6. Melina Druga October 2, 2014 at 2:50 PM #

    I wouldn’t say being cautious is being a helicopter parent. It’s being a smart parent. Children and tweens should not be working alone. They’re not mature enough, and there are too many dangers in today’s society.

  7. Pam Rote October 2, 2014 at 11:35 AM #

    Well I never been asked MY DAUGHTER LIKES SLEEPING IN TOO MUCH- She has walked home once. I was a little upset because she has to walk on the main rd VERY BUSY for about two blocks before she can take a short cut through a fields…now she has play and soccer practice every day and Dad can swing by after work timming is perfact!

  8. Emma October 2, 2014 at 9:12 AM #

    I have the neurotic mom in me, too, so it will be difficult to let my daughter walk to school (she’s only 5 now, so I don’t have to worry about that yet!)

  9. Sharon October 2, 2014 at 1:30 AM #

    I sooooo feel ya! Times have changed a lot and we need to be careful. I take my younger three to school, but they all walk home together with other kids. So there’s a crowd of them. I imagine parents dropping off their kids and leaving figure they’ll be safe. I mean, in our day we used to be fine standing around at 6:30am waiting for a bus. But this isn’t 1985 anymore. I think you have a great idea to pay parents 🙂

  10. Marcie October 1, 2014 at 10:05 PM #

    This is true! You hardly see children walking to school anymore.My sister kids walked to school.

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