Should your child take their first step towards walking to school alone?
Between getting fresh air, socialising with friends and saving on travel money, there are lots of benefits to letting our kids walk to school. But as parents, we need to know that the choices we make are the safest ones for our children.
What are the benefits of walking to school?
You may have concerns about letting your child walk to school, but you should also be aware of all the ways it can be a good thing — for them and for you!
Benefits for your child
Childhood obesity is a huge problem in the UK. Ten years ago, 31% of children between the ages of 2 and 15 were overweight and that number has only grown since. Children need at least one hour of physical activity a day, and walking to school can be the very thing to help them reach that target.
They learn road safety skills
By walking to school, your children will experience crossing roads first hand. This means they’ll be putting all their road safety knowledge into practice, helping them remember it and standing them in good stead for the future.
They get to socialise and be independent
Socialising is a huge part of making sure our children are happy at school, and walking to school with friends can give them that extra window of time to chat, laugh and relax before school, all whilst forming and cementing friendships.
But walking to school can also offer your child another valuable experience: independence. Not only can your child have some much needed time to think whilst walking, you’re also letting them know that you trust them enough with the responsibility.
They concentrate better at school
Children are restless. As parents, we all know this. But studies have shown that children who are physically active on their way to school are able to burn off some of their excess energy, making them more likely to settle down and focus once lessons start.
Benefits for you
It’s simple when you think about it: letting your child walk to school will save you money. No more spending on bus fares or extra petrol!
During term-time, a fifth of all cars on the road at 8.45am are parents driving their children to school. This equals a lot of traffic for you to sit in, meaning walking might actually be the faster option.
Benefits for the environment
Whilst driving, our cars are emitting vast quantities of CO2 which overtime can cause damage to the environment. By switching to walking, you’re lowering your carbon footprint and doing your bit for the planet by reducing air pollution.
How can we make walking to school safer?
So now that you know why you should be encouraging your child to walk to school, it’s time to also find out what you can do to make sure they’re staying as safe as possible.
Find the safest route
The first step in letting your child walk to school is to find a route that you’re both happy with — one that you feel is safe. Avoid side streets and visually-obstructed areas where possible, and maybe do the walk with your child for the first few days to make sure it feels safe.
Let your kids walk with their friends
Many parents worry at the thought of their children walking alone, so why not let them walk with their friends instead? You’ll be happy that they’re in a group and they’ll be happy that they’re getting that extra time to socialise in the morning.
Especially on dark, rainy or foggy mornings, highly visible clothing is essential. It might be something as simple as a wristband, but it could make all the difference for drivers on the lookout.
Let wearable tech help
It’s 2017, so why not let technology quell some of your fears about letting your child walk to school without you? Smartwatches for kids have an in-built GPS, meaning you can check your child’s whereabouts anytime.
At Kids Smartwatches, we’re parents too. And we’re fans of all the latest tech to help parents give their children freedom without losing peace of mind. Check out our latest GPS smartwatch recommendations.
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