Hey — It’s National Walk to School Day!

Yes, Readers — It’s the day when even hovering parents and litigation-fearing administrators are encouraged to let their kids walk or bike to school! idtrzzikyb
Here are the details
as I run off to Windham, New Hampshire, where I will be giving a talk tomorrow at the Children in Nature Conference.  It’s all about what happens WHEN we let kids go outside! If you’re up there — hope to see you. (After your kids have walked or biked today!) — L.

Go, kids, go!  (And, uh, hi Mr. Policeman!)



38 Responses to Hey — It’s National Walk to School Day!

  1. linvo October 3, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

    Bummer, it’s school holidays where I live!

  2. MHM October 3, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

    I can’t wait until I can let my daughter walk herself to school. She just started K and is the oldest. But she’s been asking to walk by herself and walk home by herself. But the school has a policy that an adult has to pick her up. Next year…

  3. Sara October 3, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    Walk to school shouldn’t have to be just a day. Our school’s is good and really dumb at the same time considering the school is smack in the middle of a huge neighborhood. First they send home notes asking parents for donations of breakfast food, beverages, plates, cups, etc. Then they require all students participating to be escorted by a parent from the local YMCA which is about .5 mile or less away through a park to the gym. (which is a nice walk unless of course you have to be at work in dress shoes) If a child is not escorted by an adult then they cannot participate in the breakfast. So if a child walks from home or the park by themselves, they are driven to school or ride the bus then they must go to the assembly room or cafeteria or wherever they are supposed to go and cannot have the free eats and loot. I have asked what the purpose of “Walk to School Day” is and no one can tell me. Is it for the healthy benefit of walking? One day isn’t really going to benefit much and they don’t encourage it 1) without an adult or 2) any other time. Maybe it’s the environmental impact of not driving…nope because anyone that doesn’t live within walking distance of the Y must drive and park there.(Parking lot nightmare getting out this morning) Or is the purpose community fellowship? Maybe, this is actually all we ever get out of it. I just wish it didn’t take some much planning and “adult supervision”.

  4. Erika October 3, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

    Ours was postponed b/c of rain. Not that it matters, b/c my kid walks every day. She and her friend were offered a ride by the other dad this morning, and they both said no, they’d rather walk. That’s my girl!

  5. Warren October 3, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

    I love and hate this. I love that it is a step in the right direction. But hate that what was the norm, has now become a special event.


  6. mollie October 3, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

    EVERY day is walk to school day around here! πŸ™‚

    Comical, can you imagine this is 1978?

  7. SKL October 3, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

    I wish I knew about this sooner.

    Just today I was driving away from my kids’ school and thinking, when will they be able to walk from, say, down the street? Not yet, but maybe this coming spring. Of course that means all of us getting out the door with 10 minutes to spare, which has never even come close to happening this term. Ha! (We live 5 miles from school, so they’ll never be able to walk all the way.)

  8. AlanaM October 3, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

    Every day is bike to school day at our house.

  9. Jen Connelly October 3, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

    My kids’ school is a bit far to walk (the middle school is like 3 miles and the elementary school is around 2 which is doable but the street leading to the school has no sidewalks and gets busy in the morning because of the school) but they walk to the bus stop alone every day. And they have walked to the school on their own during the summer to check and see if class assignments were up on the door yet.

    When we lived in Chicago they walked themselves to school every morning the last year we were there (they were in 4th, 2nd and 1st grades). Unfortunately the school would not release them without an adult so I had to walk over and pick them up every day. Half the time I’d send them home (pretty much the only walkers, especially without parents) and I’d go the opposite way to the store. It was annoying, especially towards the end of the year when I was like 8 months pregnant with a broken tailbone and aching all over.

  10. Havva October 3, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

    I heard about National Walk to School Day from the radio this morning. Not because they were promoting the event. They were pointing out that two high school students were struck by a car while walking to school (gasp!) it is Walk to School Day?!

    Real freak accident. The kids were on the sidewalk, and a car careened off the road.


    This is our traffic radio station. Where the consequences of driving are primarily pointed out as: “Traffic is backed up this morning in the northbound lanes of 395, between the beltway and Landmark mall, due to an accident, now being moved to the shoulder. Investigators are on the seen. Traffic is getting by to the left.”

  11. Lollipoplover October 3, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

    Every day is bike to school day at our house, too.

    I’d be lying if I told you they did it for the exercise. They enjoy it for the freedom but also for the cool animals they get to see on their ride to and from school. So far, they’ve seen an 11-point buck in a field of fog, a vulture swooping down to eat a squirrel run over in the street (it didn’t look both ways), foxes, and two albino squirrels,”Whitey” and “Snowy”. I love to hear their stories and adventures.

  12. Suzanne Miller October 3, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

    Here is the link to a great video about letting your kid walk or bike to school.


    My son is 8 and has been walking to school for a 1/2 mile with his friend since school started this year. He has had a marvelous time and is so proud of himself. He actually doesn’t want me to walk with him any more!

  13. sandy October 3, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

    I checked out the walk to school website. You can even get a map, in case you don’t yet know how to get to the school, I guess… Once a year seems a little silly. In 4th and 5th grade, my son walked to school one Friday a month, weather permitting. He tried to run, but was stopped by the many parents/ and teachers lining the 1/4 mile route.

  14. Nicole October 3, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    Ugh! I meant to organize something in my neighborhood for today, and completely forgot! DS’s old school used to do one, and it was fun for the kids who didn’t usually get to walk. Anyone who wanted could meet at location about a half mile from the school and walk together. I never imagined it had a huge environmental impact or anything, but it was fun.

  15. hineata October 3, 2012 at 7:29 pm #

    Holidays here too, Linvo, bummer! My two pre-adolescent girls are about to be sent to recreate the Bastion Point Hikoi (walk, about 700km) in reverse, though, if they don’t stop arguing!

    Hormones, anyone?

    Next term, too, will be bike to school time, now they are getting their summer uniforms back. The winter kilts keep getting jammed in the bike wheels….

  16. MamaBee October 3, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

    We live close enough that my kid walks every day. The way our elementary is situated, lots of our friends would have to cross a busy street and walk more than a mile to get here, so we organized a little get-together at our place so they could all walk together. A couple of the parents were saying they would “join me when I walked the kids . . . ” and seemed a little surprised when I said, “Oh, no — they’ll be going by themselves!”

    They crossed one street (our small residential street, in sight of the house) and walked through the park before they were on school property. Plus, about half the group are in grade 6. I’m thinking they probably all made it there safely this morning πŸ™‚

  17. Havva October 3, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

    Seems appropriate today. Just saw this article that starts with.

    “Getting children to be more physically active seems as if it should be so simple. Just enroll them in classes and programs during school or afterward that are filled with games, sports and other activities.”
    But apparently that doesn’t work. The comments are full of people astutely pointing out that kids these days don’t WALK anywhere. Growing up, we probably got more exercise going about our daily activities than kids get being driven to school and exercise activities.


  18. Michelle October 3, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

    I was actually really surprised (and pleased) yesterday; I was driving through the neighborhood at school let-out time, and there were tons of kids walking home. I was surprised because when I go running in the mornings, all I see are kids standing around waiting for the bus. I guess I miss the kids walking to school because they aren’t all walking at the same time.

  19. Donald October 3, 2012 at 9:39 pm #

    It’s excellent to see that the tide is turning.

    The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have issued a high level statement on risk and children’s play.
    It’s about children’s play and leisure Γ’β‚¬β€œ promoting a balanced approach




  20. Vanessa October 3, 2012 at 9:46 pm #

    My daughter didn’t walk to school, but she’ll be walking home, as she does a few times a week. At her junior high, almost no one walks in the morning (I’m guessing their parents drop them off on the way to work, like I do) but afternoons are a different story.

  21. Stephanie October 3, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

    My kids walk daily, but then it would be ridiculous to drive them, as it’s under a quarter mile to the school. We get cars up to our house for special events at the school, and pretty close on regular school days. It’s a charter school, so many parents do have the excuse that they don’t live in the neighborhood and genuinely need to drive their kids to school. Makes traffic truly dreadful, though. I try not to drive anywhere near the school during drop off or pick up times.

  22. JJ October 3, 2012 at 10:33 pm #

    My son’s middle school is less than a mile away and he does walk many days. However, bis backpack typically weighs 65 pounds (he weighs 105) and sometimes he has sports equipment and/or a band instrument to carry in addition. I wonder how much the weight of backpacks plays into the trend away from walking or biking to school.

  23. BL October 3, 2012 at 10:37 pm #

    “classes and programs during school or afterward that are filled with games, sports and other activities.Ò€

    Very few sports by themselves are much good as exercise. The only exceptions are the serious endurance sports.

  24. Jenna October 4, 2012 at 12:35 am #

    Yeah, my kids didn’t walk/ride bikes to school today. I’m in a carpool and the only other child is a first grade girl. Her parents are okay with her walking/riding her bike as long as a parent is with her. While I’m fine with my boys riding their bikes to and from school without me, it was my turn to pick up for the carpool. Being four months pregnant and needing to stay off my feet as much as possible (already had episodes of bleeding, so not on bed rest, per se, but the doc wants me to take it easy), there was no way I could strap my 4-year-old and my 18-month-old in the bike trailer to ride up the hill the mile to the school so that she could have a grown up to ride home with. And I even wanted to walk less and take more than an hour out of my day walking there pushing the stroller with my 4-year-old dragging her feet. We have the arrangement in the carpool that on her parents’ day to drive, my kids will ride their bikes and they only have to get her. They can do whatever they want on their day…my kids ride to and from school on those days.

  25. Michelle October 4, 2012 at 1:46 am #

    Jenna, isn’t that kind of a strange arrangement? On your days, you drive someone else’s kid to school, and on their days, they drive their own kid to school. I’m not sure how that’s even a carpool, though it’s certainly very nice of you.

  26. Michelle October 4, 2012 at 1:51 am #

    Not that it’s really any of my business, πŸ˜›

  27. C.J. October 4, 2012 at 3:42 am #

    I so wish my kids could walk to school. It’s a little too far to walk. I would let them ride their bikes if they didn’t have to cross a highway that has a major speeding problem. People come flying into town going close to 100 km/hour in a 50 km/hour zone. Including trucks. Calling the town does no good. The put cops out for a few days, catch a few speeders, then everything goes back to the way it was. Maybe when they are a bit older.

  28. This girl loves to talk October 4, 2012 at 4:35 am #

    programs like this can work but need more – my kids school (in australia) was one of 20 chosen for the year (different 20 each year) for a walk to school program – they get a passport booklet that gets stamped for each friday they walk to school – called freewheeling friday – you can scooter, walk, ride, carpool etc. anyway it really appeals to my kids and they have dutifully walked or rode (with me) every friday, even on one day in the rain when I tried to beg them that it didnt matter if they missed one friday πŸ™‚ lol

    once a term they have a breakfast before school with healthy food for those that participate.

  29. Katie October 4, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    The Policeman in the photo reminds me of the Carolyn Haywood books (B Is for Betsy, etc), in which the children have a friendly face in the police officer who acts as crossing guard for their walk to school. Mr. Kilpatrick shows up in most of those books!

  30. Jenna October 4, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

    @Michelle–When the arrangement first started, there were no sidewalks or crossing guards from our house to the school. We lost our bus this year because a new road opened up, putting us closer to the school, within the 1.5 mile limit for a bus. But we couldn’t use the road because there weren’t sidewalks or a crossing guard at the really busy street crossing. The family that I “carpool” with needs the help. The father is a firefighter and can only drive his daughter to and from school on his days off. The mother is blind and disabled in other ways. She can’t walk that far with her daughter crossing two busy streets along the way. There is another family in the neighborhood that drives their two daughters in the morning (one is in morning kinder with her son) and picks them up from morning kinder. My third child is in afternoon kinder. At the beginning of the year, it looked like we would be driving because there just wasn’t a safe route for the kids to go. About two weeks ago, they put in sidewalks along that road and gave us a crossing guard at the busy street. I feel obligated to be part of the “carpool” I agreed to before these changes were made because the family needs the help.

  31. Havva October 4, 2012 at 8:10 pm #

    @JJ… sounds like the weight of book bags could be a factor. When I was in middle school we were already worrying about too heavy of backpacks and the back health implications. My book bag was (I though I would never say this) “only” 40lbs. But I was only 70lbs. The teachers claimed we were putting “junk” in our bags until a student weighed and listed the components of his backpack. I managed the load, but it hurt, and I wasn’t going a mile, and didn’t have sports equipment (did have a flute). So much sympathy for your son.

    I put up a bit of a fight on how many books we were supposed to carry, and eventually found some teachers who agreed. They discovered that the text books lasted longer when there was a classroom set and the student’s copy for home. The extra extra 20% upfront was hard for the district to swallow. But the teachers that got class sets reported that they were able to get several more years out of the books. They also did not find an increase in lost books, as others feared. And sometimes there were enough unused copies of the text at district, for an energetic teacher to scoop up.

    I didn’t get too many teachers on board though. Eventually I got a rolling back pack, convinced my mom to drive 60mi round trip for it. It wore out in a few months, but I added a plywood base and medal/rubber casters rated for 200lbs. Had to replace the casters every two years. If your son goes by bike, or can, perhaps a set of saddle bags would help without the dork factor of a rolling back pack.

  32. Matt October 4, 2012 at 9:47 pm #

    Our boys are two of only four children who walk to school regularly at our elementary school, which is not in a particularly walking-friendly area due to lack of sidewalks and less dense housing. That said, there are lovely paths through the woods that would make it accessible to a few hundred of the kids in one part of the neighborhood, but there are predictable mythologies accepted about the advisability of this, the origins of which seem to be obscure – school board, school administration, parents themselves, I cannot tell. But no kids walk through the forest paths to get to school.

    I write somewhat tangentially today though about the “emergency drill” on their schedule coming up. This is to simulate an emergency evacuation, and parents were written a letter asking them to NOT pick up kids that day so they could all be shipped out on the buses according to the school’s emergency protocol. I understand the purpose of the exercise, and in our case it means our boys will have to get on the bus, take a 20 second ride around the corner to be dropped off — on the wrong side of the busy semi-rural road we live on. I’m going to wait for them, but I’m under no illusions that this isn’t going to be the single day of the year when they’re in the most danger, being on a school bus with no seat belts and then having to cross a busy street.

    In terms of risk analysis, for them, it’s probably far more dangerous for them to be first-time riders on the bus than the combined chances that they’ll have to make an emergency evacuation that will save them from other danger.

  33. Katie October 6, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

    It was great to meet you the other day at the conference in Wyndham. Thanks for helping change my perspective! My son is thankful too. Yesterday I let him bike to the ice cream place down the road from our house – by himself. He was thrilled! (and even returned 2 minutes early) He will be walking to swim practice in the next couple of weeks as well.
    I’ve been sharing this new understanding with anyone who will listen. The common response seems to be the same as mine – This makes so much sense. I’ve been shifted into a state of fear due to the media. I’m so happy to give my children the opportunities for freedom that I had.
    Thanks again.

  34. Kimberly October 7, 2012 at 12:34 am #

    I teach 2nd grade – we have about 80 kids
    About 30 are walkers

    About 10 are day care

    About 10 are pick ups (5 of those have transfers from out of our catchment area so they have to be pick ups)

    About 30 ride the bus – We are boarded on 2 of the 4 sides by 4 lane HWs with speed limits of 45 mph or 55.

    My kids have overloaded backpacks, that is the families’ responsibly because I only send home 2 library books, 4 page packet of home work on Monday and a folder of classwork on Wednesday.
    My Math Textbook made of bundles of tabloid sized handouts. I have 24 per lesson and 26 kids.
    I don’t use ELA textbook
    I don’t send home Reading Textbook
    Science Textbook is Digital
    Social STudies textbook “What is that?”

  35. Rachel October 8, 2012 at 11:36 am #

    My brain agrees with this, but my heart is with Jessica Ridgeway, the girl abducted on her walk to school in Colorado. I know these cases are rare, but they’re so heartbreaking. Hearing these stories literally makes me sick (my daughter is the same age). I just can’t get past them.

    My kids go to a private school that is not walking distance from our house. My kids can walk to different neighborhoods around ours, though, to walk to friends. But I haven’t let them yet. They are allowed to walk around our own neighborhood, and my husband is not so keen on that.

  36. Theresa K October 10, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

    This was a great idea that my daughter’s school botched horribly. First of all, they set up several sites for the kids to meet together to walk, which isn’t such a bad idea. But then they asked (and kept asking) for parent volunteers to escort the kids on their walk to school. This school is K-6, so it’s hard to imagine that there wouldn’t be some kid that would know the way to school!

    To make matters worse, the school also decided 10/3 would be recycling day. They recognized that kids can’t reasonably drag large trash bags full of bottles and cans to school on their own, so they suggested that parents first drop their kids off at the meet-up site and then drive on to school to drop off the recycling. Note the part about the parents dropping their kids off at the meet-up site? Yeah, me too.

    I ask you, what was accomplished by walk to school day? Did the kids get to do anything independent? Did parents get to miss out on a drive to the school that day? I really feel like her school’s administration missed the whole point of the exercise…

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