At What Age Can Your Child Wait for the Bus Alone?

Updated on August 25, 2011
R.P. asks from Denver, CO
16 answers

A few months ago I wrote about transportation budget cuts and the possibility that my son might have to switch schools because bus service in our neighborhood might be discontinued. We moved here two years ago and our neighborhood school was full, so our son was bussed to another school. However, our neighborhood school has been renovated, and now has space for our son. We have moved around a lot, and our son is extremely shy, so we fought to keep him at the same school, which we all just adore. My husband and I were overjoyed to receive notification that my son's bus would still make a stop in our neighborhood. However, the timing is off. The bus will pick our son up at 8:30 - I am a teaching assistant, and have to clock in at 8:30. My husband has a 45 minute commute and needs to leave at the same time I do, which is 8:15. Last year the bus came at 8:15. I am hoping that the three other children from our area who attend our son's school will also be riding the bus with him. They live 5-10 blocks from us and I'm thinking they will all get on with our son. I know bus stops are going to be consolidated, and I imagine there will only be one stop in our area. The bus stop is one block from our house. I do not feel comfortable at all with dropping our son off at 8:15 and then leaving for work. I think I will be a nervous wreck at work every day. That is why I am hoping those other three children will be with my son - if one of their parents is there I will ask if she or he can watch my son at the bus stop. I would even pay another parent or offer babysitting in exchange for help. My husband thinks we can set an alarm to go off every morning at 8:20, at which time my son can leave the house and walk to the bus stop. I think that waiting at the bus stop alone is out of the question, so naturally, I flipped out at my husband's idea. Our son is pretty mature, but I don't think 9 years old is old enough to know what to do in an emergency(for example the door won't lock, the bus doesn't come, etc.). I suggested that my husband go into work a little later, but he won't hear of that - he is a workaholic. Am I being overprotective, or is my son too young to be dropped off at the bus stop at 8:15 without me or my husband around. There aren't any other kids on our block, and the ones a few blocks away all go to the neighborhood school. Thanks for reading all this!

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So What Happened?

Great ideas - my husband will be going to work late the first week of school so he can wait at the bus stop with our son, and believe me, I have already told him to try and make arrangements with other parents who might be waiting there. Funny thing about before school care - my son's school is the only one in our area that doesn't offer it. He would have to be dropped off at a different school 20 minutes from our house. We would be leavning him there at 8:15, and the van to his school would leave at 8:30. The program charges a flat rate of $100 a week, no matter how much time your child spends there each day. $400 a month is a lot for us to manage right now, especially for an hour and fifteen minutes of child care. I totally agree that our son is too young to wait alone for the bus. I may have my husband read some of these posts.

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answers from Boston on

I don't go outside with my 9 year old but the bus stop is 1 house over and I watch out the window and there is 4 other kids that get the bus at that stop. I would not be comfortable with leaving him alone at a bus stop that I couldn't see unless a parent I know and trust was there.
Can you drive him to school? Ask if you can come in 15 minutes late.



answers from Philadelphia on

A divorced friend of mine told me (a few years ago) that in NJ, by law, a child cannot be left home alone until he/she is 12 years old. You might want to look into that.

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answers from Honolulu on

I REALLY would not leave your son alone, at the bus stop.
No matter what age he is.
It takes only a few seconds, for a child to disappear or get abducted.
Bus stops... are commonly observed by child predators and they know the habits/schedules of buses etc. and could easily see, what house your son walks from, to the bus stop.

Could you... speak to another parent who's child ALSO rides the bus... and perhaps, drop your son off at her house... to then car-pool with her/her kids to the bus stop???? Before you or your Husband goes to work. ON the way to your work, you or Husband can drop your son off at that other Mom's home, to car-pool.

Or, yes, sign up your child for before-care and after-care at the school.
Many schools, have this.
So then you'd just drive your son to school yourself... and drop him off at school, and for before-care at the school. It is supervised.

It does not matter, how 'mature' or 'smart' a child is. Predators don't care about that.

In my State, a TWELVE year old girl, was walking home after school. So of course it was in broad daylight and very busy and lots of people around. As she walked, after awhile, she noticed that a man in a truck was following her. He notice she noticed, and he began to go faster trying to of course, get her. She had the idea to run back to the school. Once she neared there, only then did the man stop and turn around.
This was in a nice upper middle class neighborhood, in a good area, and this was a normal nice girl.

I would NOT, leave my kid alone at a bus stop.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

Does his school offer before and after care? If so you can drop him off at the school early one your way to work.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

When one of my neighbor friends went back to work, I let her son come to my house to wait with my son. Surely there is a mom in your neighborhood that would do that for you.
Until you find someone, ask your husband to please reconsider and leave a little later.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Well if your son is mature, maybe he can handle it. But, I would feel more comfortable if I could drop him off with a group of kids. I don't remember you saying this, but do you have the option of driving him to another bus stop, one that has kids there for sure? Is school too far away for you to drive him early? Sometimes they have YMCA there for daycare before school opens, and some schools let the kids in 30 mins early, at least around here they do. What about a cell phone? I always felt more safe when they had one, just in case. I know 9 is young for that too tho. What are you going to do if it is raining terribly one day? If I were you, I'd beg your husband to wait 15 more minutes if possible, or hire a parent to watch him, even for 30 mins before school if you can. Good luck this is one of the hardest things ever.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Hook it up with one of the other parents! Not a few people "keeping an eye" on your son. One particular parent who does this for you guys on a daily basis. You drop your son off at their house in the morning and pick him up from there after school every day. In exchange, maybe you can babysit their kids one night a week or an afternoon or something.



answers from Roanoke on

Our school district actually has a rule about this - they can get on and off the bus without a parent or guardian when they begin 3rd grade.

I wouldn't do it if he was the only kid at the stop, but it sounds like there are several people there, including other parents. Is the walk from your house to the bus stop visible - meaning, can other parents already at the stop watch him walk there from the house? If so, I would feel comfortable with your husband's suggestion. Of course, I don't know what kind of area you live in, if it is a busy street, etc.

One of the other parents will probably agree to watch him for 10 minutes each morning - 8:15am-8:25am, right? Even if you have to pay it would be minimal.


answers from Portland on

I would definitely talk to the neighborhood moms. Maybe one of them leaves later for work (like 9) or is a stay at home mom or something like that. Around here we don't mind lookin out for kids (me and a neighbor). My neighbor encourages the kids to come jump on the trampoline and looks out for them since there are a lot of unsupervised kids roaming the streets, she says as a mom herself she wants them to be safe too. I'm sure there are most likely people like this by you. I think he's too young to walk to the bus and wait alone. We were all alone at our bus stop (group of kids) when I was 9, but I remember all the drama that happened too, fights, etc. Plus him walking to the bus stop alone from the house, someone you don't want to know he is home alone could catch on that he's alone if they start noticing that you leave, husband leaves, but son walks out later by himself... it happens.



answers from Philadelphia on

Can you talk to one of the other moms at the bus stop and see if he can go to their house when you leave for work and walk with them? Perhaps you can offer a trade for baby sitting time on your days off because of teaching time? Good luck! I have no idea what I'll do when my daughter is school age.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I'm with you. I have an 8.5 year old and I would not be comfortable with that. In advance, if you can, contact the other parents and see if anyone is willing (for pay) to have you drop him off at 8:15, watch him for 15 minutes and then watch him/take him to the bus stop with their kid.

OR can you somehow re-schedule your work hours to a bit later even if it means staying 15-20 mins later or taking a brief lunch?


answers from Washington DC on

sorry at the age of 9 - even with being mature - I wouldn't leave my kid alone at a bus stop...

I would quit work or change my schedule...if you don't have a person IN your neighborhood you can trust - I would NOT leave my child doesn't take but one second to alter your life forever...

If I can't quit work - then i would drive my son to his school or have my husband drive my son to his school....




answers from Seattle on

I wouldn't send him alone at 8:20. I think asking another parent at the bus stop to keep watch over him is a good idea. But how about asking if you can leave him at their house so he can walk/ride with them (if you are comfortable having him in someone else's car, if they are driving instead of walking).

Or - do you have a retired neighbor who would gladly do their morning walk to the bus stop w/ him and make sure he gets on safely? Trade that care for a bouquet of flowers or a restaurant gift certificate occasionally to say thank you.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I think it really depends on your son, but I certainly walked a mile plus to school at this age. And things are safer now (despite what the media would have you believe) than they were then. One thing that might make you feel better is to get him a cell phone and set up a google number for you cell, your husband's cell, and some neighbors. The Google number can ring all of those phones at once and who ever picks up first is who he gets. I'd also have him call when he gets on the bus.

Ideally, you should approach a SAHM who you can pay a modest fee (or exchange babysitting) for watching him in the morning. But there are a lot of kids who get themselves to school at this age.



answers from Springfield on

I havent read all of the posts so forgive me if my answers are redundant.....I would not be comfortable with my kids waiting at a young age. Maybe not even in jr high. I just think of the fact that it just isn't little ones at risk, but 11 and 12 year olds as well. Its unfortunate. Hang in there! You will find the right answer. Hopefully you can rearrange your work or find some sort of carpool or trade babysitting with other moms or something.



answers from Washington DC on

I quit working so we didn't have daycare expenses. It was just too much and my paycheck would only go to childcare.
If I had to work my kids would be in a before and after school program.

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