4Th Grader Walking Home

Updated on June 19, 2014
C.G. asks from Aubrey, TX
28 answers

Hi.. We lived about 4 blocks from the school but we have always picked up my daughter. However for the 2014-2015 school year she will be in the 4th grade and my husband thinks she should walk home.

How soon is too soon for you kid/kids to start walking home from school and why.

Thanks in advance for the feedback.

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answers from Seattle on

When my brothers were young (K-3) they walked home with me. About a mile.
4 blocks isn't that far. Mine would walk.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

My 4th grader has walked home all year. It's a short distance (less than half a mile) and he only crosses one intersection. While he doesn't always walk with someone per se there are other kids going by on foot or bicycle, parents in cars, etc. and the only properties he passes are either the school fields (used by athletic teams most days) and houses. A lot depends on the specifics of where you live, etc. but around here, walking home alone in 3rd/4th grade is really common.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

My son started riding his bike from home to school around 4th. We prepared him in stages. First, I would drop off him near a crossing guard. He would have about a 5 minute walk to the school. Then eventually my husband did a dry run with him from home to school (less than a mile.) When we were confident he could do it on his own, we let him do it. Now he's about to enter 8th grade and he either walks or rides by himself or with a friend to middle school, which is the same distance.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

It should be an decision based on the maturity level of the child (not age or grade) and these other factors -- will she be walking alone or with other children?? are there sidewalks or a safe place to walk on the road?? How far is 4 blocks?? will she have to cross any big intersections that do not have a crossing guard? are there a lot of houses along the way or are there large stretches of open areas? What is the speed limit on the road that she will be walking next to? Is there road construction going on?? Pull up the statistics on the number of child molesters that have registered in your area (you can get from local police). Unless you see a big red flag answering some of those questions, I think I would let her walk home with other responsible children her age. I don't think I would let her walk home by herself. You can always try it for a few days and see how it works out.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I am a regular substitute and I see a ton of kids walking home from K (usually supervised by older sibling) through 5th grade.

We have a crossing guard who watches them carefully. A lot of moms will walk to the crossing guard and meet children there and some walk all the way home. I don't think 4th grade is too young unless the child is just not mature enough to handle it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

It all depends on the neighborhood and the maturity of the kid.
I walked to school in third grade, but it was two blocks, and there were a bunch of other kids from our apartment complex who also walked.
My daughter and I never lived close enough to school for walking or bike riding to be an option.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

If you live in a safe neighborhood, I don't see why she couldn't walk. When my kids attended public school, we lived about 2 blocks away and my kids walked to and from by themselves starting in 2nd/4th grades (I mean, they were together, but walked without us). In our area, it is very common for kids to walk to school unaccompanied. Our neighborhood is safe.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

My son walked home from grade 1 but that was decades ago.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

Could she ride her bike instead?... Depending on streets, I see it as a bit safer bc harder for someone to grab a kid on a bike I think. Doable of course but if they're cruising along at a good pace, seems harder. We have kids go alone where I live in 4th grade but while they're alone, doesn't seem "alone" bc there are so many other people walking. And typically they are on bikes. So if it's like that, seems ok. And is there someone home to notice right away if she's not on time? My kids starting going alone once in a while but they do have each other. And how does your daughter feel about it? Pretty sure my 4th grader wouldn't have liked the idea of walking totally alone. We're also very close by but I think it would have been an unsettling feeling for her or just lonely to have no one meet her or to meet up with. So no magical answer - a lot depends on circumstances.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

If there are other kids walking home, I would let her. She is definitely old enough.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

I walked with my kids until the oldest was in grade three and the youngest was in kindergarten, then they walked together. Now they are in grades three and six and the older goes to a different school so they walk alone. There are so many good reasons for kids to walk to and from school. They benefit from the exercise, independence, becoming more familiar with their neighbourhood and less parental traffic on the road benefits everyone.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

My kids walk alone starting in 7th grade. Until then, I walked with them every day. Their elementary school was a little under a mile from our house. The route was quite safe for walking except for one of the road crossings, which was a highway. Crosswalk, but no light or sign. Since I was a SAHM I walked them to and from school.

They discourage people that live so close to the school from doing vehicle pickup/dropoff if walking is a viable option. Is it possible for one of you to walk with your daughter? Besides the perk of getting exercise, you'd be amazed at some of the conversations you'll end up having with her.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

We live a little more than a 1/2 mile from my GD elementary school. In 4th grade, she started riding her bike and/or walking to/from school.

If it's only 4 blocks, let her walk. It's good for them and I'll bet she'll like it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

This may seem strange but you may want to check your State's guidelines. In NJ the legal age for walking home and/or being home alone for a few hours and that age is 12. So if anything happens to your kid before the age of 12 or without a 12 year old escort, you are liable.

I was mature enough to walk home and to school by the 4th grade but my mom was wise and followed the law. We had an escort both to and from and when my sister and I no longer attended the same school and she went to a school close to the house but not in the same direction as my walk. My mom hired a local girl 13 years old to walk my sister to and from school.

I agree with others in that she shouldn't be walking it alone but with a group. Safety first.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I am not a fan of any child walking home alone.
Will you be at home or work?
If you'll be at home, I would pick her up.
If you're working, I'd arrange a ride w/her classmate/neighbor.
Maybe, and only maybe, if there a bunch of kids from the neighborhood
walking home the same way/distance.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

It depends a lot on what her walk will be like.
Does she have to cross major highways, does she have sidewalks?
Where we lived growing up we walked to school from kindergarten through 3rd grade.
We had crossing guards and walked with friends, wore rain boots and had umbrellas for rainy weather, wore snow boots/parkas for snow, etc.
We moved after that and were too far from school to walk anymore.
For high school we were close enough to walk if we missed the bus and often walked home from after school activities if the weather wasn't nasty.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

Hi, I guess it must depend where you live, but even so... we live in an urban area and my son who is now 12 still doesn't walk to and from school by himself.. I just don't feel it's safe enough, not just due to strangers perse, but TRAFFIC!!! the drivers in our city are just not pedestrian friendly enough, so more than anything else, I fear my son having to walk across BUSY intersections, which to get to his school there are many...

Maybe by 18 I will feel better about it :)



answers from Albuquerque on

Will she be passing any businesses or construction sites? My daughter will also be on 4th grade in the fall. She has asked to walk next year, but there are several houses under construction along the way, and I am not comfortable allowing her to pass by these ever-changing groups of men by herself. So, I suppose where she will be walking is something to consider as well.



answers from Washington DC on

The question is impossible to answer without knowing a lot more details. Even then, this is a gut call. If your gut says no, follow your gut.

Does she have to cross busy streets? What defines "busy" to YOU? Is there a culture in your area of people doing "slow and go" sliding stops that endanger pedestrians? (There is, here; people slide past stop signs all the time and that is in our VERY quiet suburban neighborhood with minimal side-street traffic.) Do lots and lots of kids at her school also walk solo? Is the walk public enough that if someone pulled up and started to grab a kid and pull her into a car, a ton of people would notice? How mature is she? Would she walk with a friend every day? What if friend's mom needs to pick friend up early so daughter has to walk home alone unexpectedly? What does the school itself say about walkers? Some school administrations really discourage solo walkers in elementary for a variety of reasons.

We can't say "how soon is too soon" for YOUR child to walk the specific route she would have to walk. You really can't apply other people's opinions here because their kids, their streets and neighborhoods, are simply not the same as yours.

You and your husband need a long talk and a lot of looking at the route she would walk. If your gut says no, you need to tell him that and not cave. This is not a huge deal and if he makes it one-- why? If his argument is "When I was her age I walked to school," that's frankly a terrible reason. Her walk isn't the one he had, and the world today is different. She's not him, and you get a say here too.

Personally, I would not let a child walk solo. We live in a very safe, desirable area but all my friends with elementary kids still drive their kids if they are too close to school to be allowed on the bus. By middle school most of the kids in walking distance are walking, but they are 12 to 14.

Unless you are really willing to teach your child how to handle any situation, and can guarantee she won't freeze up, freak out or forget your teachings and still walk up to a strange car to answer a question she's asked -- why not just keep picking her up? Is dad worried she won't be independent enough? Plenty of other ways to foster independence.


answers from Jacksonville on

In addition to what Susan B says (which is fabulous), can you see the school from your house? Will there be someone there waiting for her, who knows if she is not home when she should be?

4 blocks could be line of sight from your home... or not. Can you walk partway and meet her? That's another option.


answers from Washington DC on

my kids were walking around that age, but it was an ideal set-up. there's a pathway from the school playground right into our old neighborhood so the kids didn't have to hit the main road at all. will your daughter have to cross a busy road or encounter any other worrisome situations on the walk? does she have a group of friends with whom she can walk? does she WANT to?



answers from Detroit on

My son will be in the 4th grade this fall. His school is just down the street, but there is a busy road that crosses over. Even though there is a crossing guard at the busy road, I still drive and pick up my son and other neighbor kids. There is one mom who lives 9 houses from the school and she drives her son home. Yes, it sounds like some of us moms are helicopter moms, but we are doing what we feel is best. Do what you feel makes you and your child most comfortable. Actually, there will come a day when your child may not want you to walk or drive her to school because of what her peers may say.



answers from St. Louis on

We live pretty close to the school but our kids would have to cross a pretty busy street to get there. Even if we didn't have that road, I personally would not feel comfortable letting my 4th grader walk. Honestly I think my kids will have to be 7-8th grade...only because I am so paranoid. Maybe older. LOL



answers from Los Angeles on

I have no problem with her walking home (or riding her bike) but I would be concerned with her being alone. When I was in elementary we had a bus and the bus stop was equivalent of 4 blocks. It was all in our neighborhood and there were lots of kids. None my age so I kind of walked by myself but there were tons of kids around. One of the moms stood on her corner waiting for her kids where there was almost full line of sight from the bus stop. Now sometimes taking the bus was a hassle or was too crowded so we would opt to walk all the way home which was about double from the bus stop. At the time the bus had to be provided to the neighborhood as the city was developing and the roads were not deemed appropriate for elementary kids to walk (en masse). Ie no paved roads, missing sidewalks or appropriate clearance, no marked cross walks or control lights. We would cut through a creek to avoid all that but its not like the school could tell people to go that way. When we did this we did it in groups. And by that time I was older and some friends moved in the neighborhood.

I wouldn't even care if she was walking with someone younger too as long as she was with someone. Unfortunately for my kids they will never have that option. It is 4.5 miles to their elementary school so it would take them all day to get there.



answers from Las Vegas on

It depends. I walked home in first grade and we lived 2 miles from the school. But times are different and I would drive my daughter to and from school for as long as I can.

My older daughter walked home with 4th & 5th graders in the 90's while she was in K. The years after that I worked close by and was able to drive her home or keep her in the after school program.



answers from Oklahoma City on

Are there tons of other kids walking home at the same time?

What are the traffic patterns like during the time she'd be out on the street?

Is it wooded? Flat landscape? Crossing a lot of streets? Will she at risk for someone pulling up alongside her and grabbing her?

I refused to let the kids walk home from school for many reasons.

I walked home every day from my elementary school but my whole block of kids walked together and stayed together. If some of us got home without the others we got our hineys busted.



answers from Kansas City on

IMO, I think it is ok for her to walk home as long as she has a group of friends or possibly a few to walk home with. I think a 4th grader is a bit young to walk home alone. I like Susan B answer. Check all those points and make sure you asses the situation as much as possible. I am one of those panic moms (I hate that I am that way) and even in 8th grade I was afraid for my 14 year old to walk home alone. Good luck!



answers from Honolulu on

It really depends on:
the maturity of your child and her common sense, awareness of safety etc.
The area of the school. ie: is it in a bad or good area of town?
Whether or not, there are other kids that are walking home, and if so then maybe she can walk with them as a "bunch" of kids, versus just one kid, walking home.
The roads on the way home. ie: is it a highway or small neighborhood like streets and is there even sidewalks along those roads to walk? ie: here, there are some streets that do not have sidewalks. And not all roads have, traffic lights.

Now, in my State, especially near the schools, the traffic is very bad. I
have seen kids try to cross the streets, on streets that do NOT HAVE TRAFFIC LIGHTS. Hence, the kids are just guessing... as to when to cross the street. Even middle school kids, do not have common sense. They RUN across the street even if there is oncoming traffic. And there has been vehicle accidents around the schools. And when some kids are on the short side, when they are crossing the street, a vehicle CANNOT see them. Especially when there is tons of traffic and cars that are trying to overtake each other. For example.
In my State as well, there has been incidents of middle school kids walking home. And a car... following them. Or approaching them.
It does not matter if a kid is walking home alone or in a bunch. But walking home with other kids in a bunch, is always best.

So, if you are having your child walk home. Do it with her. Practice with her. A few times. Don't just tell her "walk home you know how to get home." WALK the route, with her. So you know all the obstacles or traffic and streets along the way. Do not have her walk home, along side streets. Use the main, roads. For example.

So once your daughter walks home... is she coming home to an empty house, or will you or your Husband be home?

And another thought is: if you are having her walk home... maybe you should supply her with a basic cell phone. In case of emergency. Not a fancy phone, just a basic cell phone.

Also, some kids, even if they are supposed to walk home... they get sidetracked. And walk to other places instead of just directly home. I have seen this myself. And it has even been with kids that I know. After school they take their time, hang out longer after school, and get home later than they are supposed to.

Walking home, is not just based on age or grade.

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