What Age Can Kids Start Walking to School?

Hi Folks — Here’s a little (edited) interview I did with the Globe & Mail about when kids can start walking to school. I love the fact I helped the interview retrieve a “repressed memory” of her own childhood. (A good one! We talked a lot about it, but tit didn’t end up in the piece.) And how about you? How are your kids getting school, and at what age? Just curious! – L.


57 Responses to What Age Can Kids Start Walking to School?

  1. Dave August 28, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

    Nice video and especially since the interviewer grew up doing exactly what you advocated. Wonderful.

  2. michelle August 28, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

    Hi Lenore!

    My kids are both in middle school (6th & 8th) and this first week I’m dropping them off but starting next week they will be riding bikes. We’re about 1 mile from school and there is one busy road where I make them hop off and walk for about a block. They’re excited about it and I love that they have this time for just the two of them. Plus, they’re wide awake when they get to school!


  3. pentamom August 28, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

    Well, my kids were all homeschooled until high school, but I’d say it would just have to depend on your child, your neighborhood, and your school. I’d think the upper limit of not walking would be 8, barring having to walk near a very unusually dangerous area — IOW under all but the most extreme circumstances, all 9 year olds/4th graders should be walking.

  4. Amy August 28, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

    My daughters are 8 and 6, in second and first grade, and they walk to and from school unsupervised. It’s about 2/10 of a mile, but around a corner so I can’t see them the entire way. I trust that the crossing guard and the other adults in and around the school will keep them safe.

  5. Anne August 28, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

    My oldest was 7 and in 2nd grade when he started walking by himself. My youngest will start walking with his older brother after the first week or so of kindergarten. We live about a block from the school and there aren’t any busy streets.

  6. Renee Anne August 28, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

    I was walking to school in 5th grade but that’s because prior to that, I was bussed to the other side of town. The same year I started walking to school, at least 30-40 kindergarteners were also walking to school (and the same amount for every grade through 5th). The standing rule was that if you lived within the city limits and within X distance from the school, you walked…or your parents (or someone) drove you. We all survived just fine and some of were, perhaps, a little late for school once in awhile (hey, a mile and a half is a long walk when you’re 5 years old).

  7. Robin from Israel August 28, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    Here in Israel it’s pretty much assumed by everyone that your child will walk (often with friends, but not always) by third grade.

    There’s actually an ad campaign to remind people that children under 9 should not be crossing streets alone.

  8. Angela August 28, 2013 at 1:49 pm #

    My eldest walked in 1st and 2nd grades. We lived about a half mile from school and there were no busy streets the entire way, so I had no concerns. I walked beginning in 2nd grade, and the walk was over a mile.

    We now live 7+ miles (in the country) from the schools so they take the bus, but my high school daughter will ride her bike into town for her summer dance team practices and my 10 year old will walk to friend’s houses that live about a mile away.

  9. elsiroomom August 28, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    We allowed our children to walk together when they were 10 and 8 (5th and third grade respectively). We also allow them to ride their bikes. This year my son will be going to a different school, and he will walk the four blocks and cross a busy street to get to the centralized bus stop without supervision. We haven’t discussed whether the kindergartener can walk with her (now sixth grade) sister this year – but I’m leaning toward yes. Dad had to walk with them on preschool days last year because preschool required a parent sign in, and started 15 minutes later than elementary. HOWEVER – oldest daughter was permitted to sign youngest out of afternoon preschool so dad didn’t have to come in when driving (MN – sometimes walking is too darn cold!!)

  10. SKL August 28, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

    It depends on the kids and the neighborhood.

    In general, in a safe neighborhood with a sensible kid, walking to a walkable school should be OK for a KG or 1st grade child. Especially if there are siblings involved.

    I drive my kids to school because their school is 5 miles away and we don’t qualify for bus service.

  11. Carrie Chacon August 28, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

    Hi Lenore!
    My 9yr old 4th grader rides her bike, sometimes with a group of kids some times alone. My 12yr old 7th grader takes public transportation, gasp! The sprinter train, then transfers to a public bus that drops him right in front of the school.

    Love the stories you share!


  12. jim nutt August 28, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    Our son walked from the first day of pre k and started walking by himself in kindergarten. Of course, we live in a small town and less than two blocks from the school with no street crossings. It also helps that The Boy is quite gregarious and knows everyone in every house along his route.

  13. staceyjw August 28, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

    It depends, but in general, I would say preschool (4-5) if they are walking in a larger, mixed age group with bigger kids. Kindergarten if they are walking with one other responsible friend. 1st grade if they are alone. This assumes a crossing guard at main roads, and a walk thats is within a reasonable distance. Also assumes a free range kid, that has been walking with a parent for practice, and playing unsupervised for some time first.

    I did this as a kid, and walked across a big street as well. I expect my son to ride his bike to school in kindergarten. He already rides BMX, and in our apartment lot with his friends, and he just turned 3.

    If I have to sign him out, or some other such nonsense, I will put him in the school I prefer across town. If I have to drive, I want to pick the school at least, and the Spanish immersion schools I prefer are not in our neighborhood (but the Japanese immersion school IS less than a mile away). (school choice here is a lottery)

  14. Vanessa August 28, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

    My daughter is a freshman in high school and started walking in seventh grade. Her elementary school was too far away to walk, but if we had lived in the neighborhood immediately surrounding it, she probably would have started in fourth or fifth grade.

  15. AlbertaParent August 28, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

    In about October, I had first parent-teacher conference re: my child who was then in G1. I casually (and without thinkig this through) asked the teacher if the kid had made it to class on time every day to ensure that she had no issues with him being tardy. To this she visibly held her breath for a moment and then asked if I did not drop of/walked the child myself.
    I had other discussion since then with this teacher. She acknowleges herself to be the “what if” lady. “What if this happens? What if that happens…?” – she says.
    I just hope these type of people recognize that projecting their own fears onto children and other parents is not a great thing to do.

  16. anonymous this time August 28, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

    “I just hope these type of people recognize that projecting their own fears onto children and other parents is not a great thing to do.”

    Yeah, I think of it like smoking. Go ahead and compromise your own health, and stink like an ashtray. But keep it off of me, out of my lungs. Dwelling on “what ifs” is a kind of nasty, self-destructive habit, a habit that some hope will bring them peace and security. Unfortunately, like smoking, people rarely get what they’re looking for from self-destructive habits.

    Again, it’s a choice: obsess all you want to, smoke all you want to, but don’t involve me!

  17. Caitlin August 28, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

    We moved to The Netherlands a few months ago so my girls (7 and 5), insisted after a few days of school that they ride their bikes like everyone else! I feel completely at ease about it here, since drivers are so pedestrian and cyclist conscious. Back in the US, I probably would have waited a year or two.

  18. Meagan August 28, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

    My kids are in Kindergarten and 1st grade. They ride the bus to school and love it. We’re actually close enough that they could walk except the school is on the other side of a bust state highway with no sidewalks.

  19. Amy August 28, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

    My 9 year old bikes to school with his dad, whose work is right near the school. It’s about a mile and a half, which requires crossing several busy streets. Occasionally when dad can’t bike with him, he bikes by himself.

    My 11 and 13 year olds bike by themselves, and my 16 year old takes the city bus.

  20. Katheryn August 28, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

    Great video! We currently live in New Zealand and I let my 9 and 6-year-old walk/bike to school together.

  21. NicoleK August 28, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

    I’m a straight walk to school, but I’m not sure my kid will walk to school alone. Not because I’m worried she won’t be capable by the time she goes, of course she will be. If she’s old enough to go she’s old enough to walk there. But because the pedibus might be a good way to meet the other kids who live nearby. Or if I walk her, I’m told the moms drop their kids off and have coffee across the street afterwards. So walking her, or doing the pedibus, could be a good way to foster community relationships.

  22. Julie August 28, 2013 at 6:03 pm #

    4th grade seems to be the norm around here for walking solo. My 3rd grader could easily get there and back by himself, but it raises more eyebrows than I prefer, especially since I don’t mind walking my kids.

    My kindergartner’s head is always in the clouds so I’m reluctant to send them off together without an adult. She’d make end up making both of them late (because brother wouldn’t leave her.) You know, those dandelions on the route aren’t gonna pick themselves! So, I’m walking the younger one anyway. The older comes with us.

    At our school, the 4th and 5th graders get out a half an hour later than K-3, and I don’t think I’m going to spend a half an hour everyday waiting. The 4th grader will have to get himself home next year.

  23. Sarah August 28, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

    Our school district says 3rd grade, and anyware you live in the district you would have a school within walking/ biking distance. Thankfully plently of kids do walk/bike by the 3rd grade and the school doesn’t seam to make a fuss about a first or second grader walking with an older sibling.

  24. rhodykat August 28, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

    My kids can’t walk to school – it’s several miles. But the bus stop is 1/2 mile and last year I let them walk it. Unfortunately, the bus driver couldn’t handle the idea of my capable second and fourth grader walking that far, and re-routed the bus so that they were let off at the end of the street. New bus driver this year, so I’m hoping they get to walk! My K girl is over a mile on windy country roads with no sidewalks, so I drive her.

  25. Melissa August 28, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

    Last year, when our boys were 11 and 9 (6th and 4th grade) they started taking a city bus and then transferring to the EL train to get home from their magnet school. We live in Chicago and it has worked very well. It takes them about 45 minutes all together. Sometimes when we’re driving around town, they’ll say, oh I see that person on the bus all the time!

  26. Kay August 28, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

    My oldest started in kindergarten, walking with two second graders. The location of the school to our house is not very far, up the street but around a corner. He is in middle school now so his younger brother, a third grader is walking by himself and feels very confident about it.

    O/T Here’s an article I found just recently about schools actually spending money to spy on students’ facebook.


  27. Reziac August 28, 2013 at 8:48 pm #

    I walked to school, by myself, starting in kindergarten. There were busy streets to cross, but I’d been taught to look both ways and be sure of what was coming in all four directions. About 4 blocks to kindergarten, and a mile or a little more after that, either walked or biked. BY MYSELF.

    In Junior High, you had to be more than 1.25 miles away to ride the bus, or the temp had to be below -30F. (And the durn thing dropped me off 5 blocks from home, hardly worth the long wait!)

  28. Amy U August 28, 2013 at 8:58 pm #

    We live 10+ miles from town, so our kids ride the bus and learn words like “b**ch” and “f***” in kindergarten. How I wish they could walk!

  29. Daniela August 29, 2013 at 12:52 am #

    In Switzerland, children are encouraged to walk alone at School at kindergarden age. So the smallest kids are 4 years old. And where I live a huge majority of parents really let their kids walk alone to School. This works because: most of the chikdren walk alone, the pathway to School is usually rather safe, a police man goes to the kindergarden to show children how to safely cross a street, because people on a crosswalk have priority, all the medias talk about the first day of School and that drivers should drive very carefully and all kindergarden kids and first graders get a flashy vest to be seen. My three year old son, who goes to daycare wanted to walk home like his older siblings. So my oldest, eight year old son picks him up at the daycare and walks home with him, without any adult. On the way home they meet their two ither siblings, 5 and 6 years old, and so they walk home together usually having lots of fun!

  30. Marybeth August 29, 2013 at 1:09 am #

    Hello Lenore! – It has been so long I can’t remember. Kindergarten was not a possiblity as the school regquired parents/other designated adult to drop off and pick up and then due to our childcare plans I think it was 3rd grade for my first child and first grade for my second child.

    My children’s elementary school has a very good childcare program at school that both my kids liked. As our childcare plans changed, we used the school’s childcare. I am certain that part of the reason my children liked the school’s childcare so much is that it gave them kids to play with as no one on our street ever allowed their kids out to play so the idea of neighborhood kids hanging out together did not exist. It’s a little off topic but it explains why they did not walk home more often. Because here in sunny San Diego, kids can easily walk to and fro about 178 out of the 180 day school year.

  31. Jen Connelly August 29, 2013 at 3:54 am #

    The first time my kids walked to school was when they were 9, 7 1/2 and 6 1/2 (in 4th, 2nd and 1st grades). That was in Chicago–about a 3 block walk. Then we moved to Washington state. They take the bus now but they all walk to their bus stops on their own. I even signed papers saying my older kids could get my then kindergartener off the bus so I wouldn’t have to go stand on the corner because the school thinks a 5-6yo can’t walk a 1/2 block on their own.

    This past school year my oldest son rode his bike to school a few times (once because he decided to skip school and when we caught him we refused to drive him, the other times he chose to do it). The school is about 1.75 miles from our house. He’s in middle school this year and that school is about 3 miles away. I’m sure he’ll attempt to ride his bike there, too. He’ll be 12 in October so I’m fine with that. He’s been riding around town since he was 10.

  32. john f August 29, 2013 at 7:21 am #

    Because of the birthdate cutoff, I started to first grade when I was 5 and 10 months. I walked to school from the first day with my 3rd grade sister as my “guardian”, admittedly a long time ago. I am now 62. When he was in 6th grade, I let my son , now 33, take public transportation to a Chicago Cubs game and was almost crucified. Why won’t people let their children grow. Is it because they have so little control of their own life that they wish to perpetuate what they can control to the point of retarding development. Is it possible that the “learned” dependence of today’s adults is actually what produces a lack of progress in so much of today’s society eg. government?

  33. knutty knitter August 29, 2013 at 8:06 am #

    Mine walked together from 7 and 5 years old. About a kilometer with one bad road to cross (very carefully taught about that and several dry runs etc). Then they caught the city bus and walked a short distance home. I only take them places when lessons are too close to end of school for them to make it on foot or bike now (about twice a week) and this has been the norm for a long time (they are now 15 and 17).

    viv in nz

  34. Amanda August 29, 2013 at 8:47 am #

    We live two small residential blocks from school and at the end of his first grade year, I started to let my son walk to school. He is an excellent rule follower, great at directions, and there are lots of other kids walking (admittedly with parents) so there is always someone on the street that time of day. He does have to cross one small road by himself, and the other road has a crossing guard. The crossing guard did ask me if I knew that my son was walking to school by himself. I said, “um yes, that would be pretty hard thing to miss” And she then warned me that he had to cross one street by himself and he should be careful. Again I said, “yes, we have gone over the safely crossing street thing numerous times”.

  35. lexi August 29, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    In 1976 I started Kindergarten at age 5. I walked to school alone sometimes, and with other kids on most days. I remember the first day I got to walk “alone”. I was very proud, not the least bit scared, and this alone time became one of the best parts of my day. I found out years later that my parents followed me on the first day–not to protect me from danger–but to make sure I really knew the way there. I now live a few blocks from a school. It’s not in the best academic district but I will likely have my son go to Kindergarten there, because I want him to walk to school. Sadly, I know that if I let him walk alone at some point in Kindergarten (if I feel he’s ready), many people–even close friends–will think I’m irresponsible. Worse, the streets may be absent of other children when he’s walking to school.

  36. Donna August 29, 2013 at 10:03 am #

    I started walking to school as soon as we lived close enough in 2nd grade. My daughter is in 2nd grade but I don’t feel is quite ready. To get to school she has to cross a very busy street either mid-street (marked crosswalk but no light) or at a convoluted intersection with an extremely busy 5 lane road. The fact this is all occurring right next to a major hospital with its ambulances and horribly distracted drivers going to catch up with loved ones in said ambulances doesn’t give me great confidence. Add in the fact that my college town is lovely, but also inundated with 34,000 cars driven by newly-minted adults every August and my confidence level declines further. We’ll get there eventually, but not at 7.

  37. CrazyCatLady August 29, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    We homeschool. But that said, my kids do walk to their friend’s houses. They have been doing that since they could walk basically, when the one friend was right next door. After they moved, the friends are about a block away, but we are on a small dirt road.

    My youngest recently made a friend with a girl on a busier road, about a half mile away. I let him ride his bike over, but often the parents bring him and his bike home in the car, even though at that point he doesn’t have to cross the road to be on the correct side. The road is marked 35 mph, but most people go about 20 to 30 mph faster. Yet, because we have several options with the connecting dirt roads, we have a pretty safe option for him to cross when he goes over so that he can see for long distances in either direction.

  38. Arlington Mom August 29, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

    Our schools allow children to get to school independently at the 2nd grade level. I don’t see any parents allowing their children to do so. I’ve told my daughter who is starting 2nd grade the day after Labor Day that she can do it if she wants to.

  39. Arlington Mom August 29, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

    Our schools allow children to get to school independently at the 2nd grade level. I don’t see any parents allowing their children to do so. I’ve told my daughter who is starting 2nd grade the day after Labor Day that she can do it if she wants. She bikes with other kids and an adult.

  40. Christina August 29, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

    My boys (both 6) are now in first grade in a neighborhood school. It’s too far to walk, so we ride our bikes. Still trying to figure out what to do when the weather gets too cold. The school is a little off the beaten path vis a vis public transit.

  41. Mrs. H. August 30, 2013 at 8:07 am #

    My daughter is starting kindergarten at a school three subway stops away and will take the bus. I was so glad the city provides busing even to out-of-zone students that I didn’t consider any other method of transportation.

    However, I was surprised last night at a meet-and-greet with the other kindergarteners and parents that NOBODY else I spoke to plans on using the bus. I was repeatedly told “Sophia would be too nervous” or shy or scared or intimidated by older kids. I wonder if that’s true, of if it’s the parents imposing fear on the kids — if the parents just said “When school starts you’ll be taking the bus with the other kids” what could the kids do about it? Maybe the timid ones would be nervous the first day but then…?

    I can’t help but think that a five-year-old who is allowed to opt out of the school bus is destined to be an 18-year-old who comes home from college after a week and refuses to leave his room. Despairing….

  42. Papilio August 30, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    I don’t remember when my younger brother and I started walking by ourselves. It must have been in 1st & 3rd grade or 2nd & 4th. It was one block, one road to cross with marked crossing buth without lights or guard that got quite busy in the morning; I remember my father walking us there in the morning on his way to work (he’d bring his bike for the rest of his commute. I learned to walk FAST those days!) and we would walk by ourselves in the lunch break and after school.

    Slightly off-topic: I’m glad to see this tweet of yours:
    “Bye-bye, bike culture! More Parents Driving their Kids to School in Holland Now, Too”
    now kind of commented on by Caitlin’s comment:
    “We moved to The Netherlands a few months ago so my girls (7 and 5), insisted after a few days of school that they ride their bikes like everyone else! I feel completely at ease about it here, since drivers are so pedestrian and cyclist conscious.”
    Hello, bike culture.

  43. Ann August 30, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

    My kids walk to school and are 7 and 9. Kindergarten and 1st are bused to the neighboring city, 2-5 are in our city. It is about 1/3 mile to the school. They go to the corner together, walk down the sidewalk and meet up with MANY kids that all walk / bike / scooter to the school. I can actually see the school from my backyard, but to get there they have to go around the block.

  44. sylvia_rachel August 30, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

    My 11-year-old will be walking/city-bus-ing (cycling, if she feels like it) to and from school on her own when school starts next week.

    She first started coming home on her own 2 years ago, and began also getting herself to school a few months later.

  45. Sherri August 30, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

    I walked with my older son until he was in grade two. My younger son walked with his brother starting in kindergarten.

  46. Anna August 31, 2013 at 1:04 am #

    My 8.5yo son started a new school this week. One of the forms we were given to fill out asked us to indicate whether we’d be meeting our son outside the school on the sidewalk or whether he’d be walking/biking to school on his own. Sanity at last! K/1 kids should be met in the classroom, grades 2-5 can make their own way to and from school, or if you insist on meeting them, stay out of the school and meet them on the sidewalk. Nice! We are riding our bikes together, because it’s 1.4 miles to school with two busy streets to cross (and my son has attention issues that make him need adult supervision when biking where cars are also present). But what a breath of fresh air! I feel like I’ve found reality at last.

  47. lihtox August 31, 2013 at 10:42 am #

    I am pretty sure I started walking to school in kindergarten. Mind you, we lived two blocks from the school and my mom could see the whole route all the way there. Still, the kids were always classified as “walkers” and “(bus) riders” and there definitely were not many “car riders”.
    The big issue I think is whether your kid can be trusted to go all the way to school without getting lost, dawdling too much, or flat out skipping school and wandering off somewhere else. That depends entirely on the kid’s personality.

    Sadly, my first-grade daughter’s school is much too far to walk so I have to pick her up every day. 🙁 That said, the other day I had to pick her up from an afterschool program, and I had the baby sleeping in the car. Instead of having to go to the room to pick her up, I asked them if they could send her out, and they called over, and she came out by herself, no teacher escort. That was definitely a point in the school’s favor!

  48. Holly August 31, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

    At the school where I teach not too many kids actually walk to school. These are children age 10-12. Most of the walkers are walking a short distance to or from their car to avoid the car line. Our community has walking paths and sidewalks and crossing guards. I am incredulous at parents who drive their kids to school in the morning and then park in front of the building until the doors are unlocked at 8:00. They don’t even let the kids out of the car to wait on the porch. The traffic backs up into the street since no one else can get around them while they wait. What do they think is going to happen to their kid on the front porch of the school?

  49. charlene August 31, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    I walked to school with neighbor kids in Seattle, during the ted Bundy/green river killer era, starting on my first day of kindergarten at 5 years old. And home alone when kinder got out at noon. It was about 3 blocks, crossing a busy street that had student crossing guards.

    I live too far from my kids school for them to walk, and there are no buses. So I drive them to and from school. Last year towards the end of kindergarten, my son was 6, and I started dropping him a few blocks from school and letting him walk the rest of the way. He loved the empowerment. Unfortunately in kindergarten, the kids are not released until an approved adult is there at the gate to meet them. This year, they went as far as having 1st and 2nd grade I’d their approved adult before they can leave through a different gate. Thankfully, when I emailed the 1st grade teacher saying that my son has my written authorization to be released to meet me at a predetermined location, she did not question it and he has moseyed on over to meet me shortly after school let’s out.

    The school highly recommend s that starting in 3rd grade, kids ride their bikes to school. They don’t recommend anyone younger than that going to or from school without an adult. And they do not have any sort of crossing guards. About half the kids live in the surrounding area and are walking with an adult. Its my goal to start a student run crossing guard program and encourage the adults to empower their kids to walk or ride bikes without an adult if it is reasonable.

  50. Papilio August 31, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

    @Holly: “What do they think is going to happen to their kid on the front porch of the school?”

    They could play tag…

  51. Holly August 31, 2013 at 5:33 pm #

    Papilio, thanks for the smile. Actually, it was more like a wry grin when I read your post. Too bad there’s not a like button for comments. Actually, I should post on the tag thread as well. Tag is not one of the four activities kids are allowed to do at recess. Running is allowed only during PE during planned, structured instructional time.

  52. Jane September 1, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

    Out of curiosity I used Google Maps to look up how far and how long it took to walk to my elementary school – it was 2.6 miles and took about 55 minutes to walk. We lived just inside the outer bus limits. A couple streets over, and we would have been ‘eligible’ to ride the bus, but alas.

    I remember walking to school as a Kindergartener. The first week, my four friends and I walked with our moms. After that, we walked by ourselves. 6 years old, 2.6 miles, 55 minutes in the morning, then repeat in the afternoon. Not quite up hill both ways, but not a short jaunt or anything. We continued this walk every day until we ‘graduated’ sixth grade – funny, none of us struggled with childhood obesity.

    Then we moved onto Jr. High which was 6 miles away and took 2 hours to walk to. Still, we were just inside the bus limits so we either had to get a ride or walk. Since school started earlier for Jr. High it seems like the moms organized a carpool for mornings, but we walked home every afternoon.

    I am 37, for reference. My neighborhood was pretty suburban, but the Jr. High was in the ‘city’ where there was more crime. All of us lived to tell the tale, and none of us are overweight to this day.

    I know people will shout about how times have changed, but COME ON. They can’t walk to school, they can’t play tag when they get there… it’s all getting really ridiculous. One of the many reasons I homeschool now…

  53. Papilio September 2, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

    There are some bike-stories among the comments here, yay for that, and still many others seem to face a choice between letting the kids walk by themselves (which then is too far or the kids are too young) or driving them. It’s so sad to me that cycling apparently is not an option.
    (That would’ve reduced Jane’s two hour walk to a 40 minute bike ride!)

    @Holly: You’re welcome 🙂 Your post is sad too – it sounds like next thing will be mandatory straight-jackets lest the kids move and hurt someone! As if overweight is no problem at all in the USA…!!!

  54. Susan September 4, 2013 at 4:34 am #

    We just moved into a new subdivision and were pleased to see that the school our kids would be attending was being built very close by ( 5-7 minutes walking distance). I plan to let my daughter walk to school starting at age 7. I remember walking to school by myself at age 8 and our school was about 1 km away according to google maps.

    My oldest started full day kindergarten this week. (don’t get me started on my feelings about that) I was surprised to hear that the other families on our street, who have kids aged 3.5 to 11, all plan on driving their kids to school. When I told them that we’d be walking they expressed worry about winter and that it would be cold. ( we live in a suburb of Toronto) I was dumbfounded by this reasoning.

    If we start casting walking five minutes in the cold as an unnecessary hardship for children, in Canada of all places, then I have to say our county is doomed. No one in the future will be able to walk outside between November and the end of March in Southern Ontario for fear of being cold. If we cultivate that regular seasonal weather is something our children need to be protected from how will they ever learn to deal with the other challenges life presents us with I.e. getting a job or grocery shopping….these all involve going outside in winter!

    Also talk about a waste of time having to leave early to get a good spot in the kiss n ride area and then waiting to exit the parking lot. I can’t for the life of me see benefit in driving my kid to school here. It doesn’t save time, it wastes gas. Walking to school in the cold is good to get their blood pumping and their minds working. Walking with her at four is good for me too – i need the fresh air and excercise. It just boggles my mind. I have become one of those old curmudgeonly people who used to walk miles to school in foot high snow up hill both ways….and I’m proud.

  55. Papilio September 4, 2013 at 10:39 am #

    @Susan: Haven’t they heard of this invention called ‘wintercoat’?

    I hope they at least carpool, but reading this I fear the worst…

  56. Sky September 6, 2013 at 11:46 am #

    I’m in Texas. My 7 and 9 year olds bike about 1.5 miles to school together. They are joined for the first half mile or so by only one other kid, but there are a whole bunch of kids walking and biking closer to the school. My kids have to use one crossing light (no guard there), and then there is an adult crossing guard over the main road to the school itself. There is no bus service unless you live more than 2 miles from the school, and drop-off is a hot mess, so parents are strongly encouraged by the school to allow their kids to bike and walk. I think maybe the school intentionally keeps drop-off and pick-up as disorganized as possible to discourage parents from choosing the car option. The school has several bike racks, and almost no one uses locks.

    5th and 6th graders were crossing guards at my kids’ old school in our old state, but only at the minor crossings (i.e. over a side street with a stop sign going out onto the main street, so at most someone would be turning right onto it off the main street.) The 4-way stops had adult crossing guards, but they did a generation ago when I was a kid too. (I understand not wanting a 6th grader to direct 4-way traffic.) At our new school, those little side streets just don’t have crossing guards at all (adult or student), and the kids tend to themselves crossing. My daughter was disappointed because she was looking forward to being a “safety patrol” one day when she got older.

  57. Michael September 9, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

    I’ve not started my 4 y.o. walking yet as (1) she’s still in day care and (2) we live on the busiest street in our village.

    From k-2, my wife will drive her to school b/c the local school is too far to walk, so options are bus or my wife (who’s drive to work takes her right by school).

    However, 3-5th grade are right in our neighborhood, so I will say: “8 years old” is when she will walk. I will fight my wife on it, but she will walk. After that, she can ride her bike to middle school.