Being Outside/Crossing Streets/Etc.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-10-2004
Being Outside/Crossing Streets/Etc.
Mon, 05-10-2004 - 7:34pm
Hello everyone,

I am new here. I have been reading some posts and looking for an answer to my question but couldn't find it.

Anyway, I have a 9 year old son, gonna be 10 the beginning of August. We live on a quiet street, and always have, since my son was about 6 months old. The problem is, there are absolutely no kids on the block. There never has been. He has some friends in school but none that live close by. He does have one friend, however, who is in his class and lives a few blocks away but has to cross a busy avenue to get to our house. But, he has been to our house before. And, once even showed up unannounced on his scooter. This kid even walks to and from school by himself every day (also needs to cross a busy avenue).

I always allowed my son to go out front to play by himself since he was about 7/8. Just recently we allowed him to take his bike out without myself or my husband out there with him. And finally, just last week I gave him permission to actually ride his bike or scooter around the block without us being out there with him. He was so excited. He is very trustworthy and very smart.

Now, just today 4 girls from his school, all in 3rd grade (he's in 4th) were riding past our house today while he was outside on his scooter. I was wondering what they were doing in our area since they don't live close by. Yet, here they were, all 3rd graders, driving around the neighborhood on their bikes. Naturally they stopped by when they saw my son.

When this happened it made me stop to think: how old should my son should be before I allow him to cross the streets on his own? I have been sitting here for hours trying to think of how old I was before I was allowed but am coming up with nothing. My husband doesn't remember how old he was either. I want to protect my son but at the same time I don't want to baby him either. He has expressed interest in walking to and from school by himself too. But, since I volunteer at the school every day, he walks with me.

So, I guess my questions are: Do you allow your son/daughter to cross streets alone to go around the neighborhood/to friends houses? And, if so, how old were they when you first allowed them to do so? Also, what age do you think is appropriate to be allowed to walk to school alone? From our house to the school it is exactly 6 blocks straight up, then you must make a left and go another 3 blocks. However, two big streets, one an avenue the other just a big two lane street, must be crossed to get there. No crossing guards are on the way. At least not that way to school. Thanks so much for your advice.

Avatar for cl_janetlh
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Mon, 05-10-2004 - 8:14pm

Welcome! This is a great question, and I don't remember talking about this in quite a while. I'm glad you posted!

We live in a quiet neighborhood. My kids have been able to walk/ride around by themselves and go to friend's houses since about 4th grade. However, to leave our neighborhood to go anywhere else, it's a twisty, hilly road with no sidewalk. So, they can't walk anywhere else.

I think this is a tough call, and you have to use your own best judgement. If *you* feel it's not safe and he is too young, that's still a very reasonable decision at age 9/4th grade. Perhaps you could start by letting him "lead the way" to school, since you walk with him. Have him show you how he decides when it is safe to cross the streets. You'll both be more confident when you're ready to let him walk on his own.

Does he have a friend he could meet up with along the way to walk to school? I'm hesitant these days to let kids walk alone anywhere.

I know you'll get more responses on this. Hope to see you here often!


Jewish Family Life

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-10-2004
Mon, 05-10-2004 - 10:12pm
Thank you Janet. I think he would be ok to walk to school. I mean he knows the way and he is good at being aware of his surroundings. I'm just so scared. LOL! But, I do not want to let that be the reason why I won't. Know what I mean? He would have a friend to walk with. The same friend I mentioned that walks by himself everyday.

Things are just so different now-a-days. It makes you more leary of letting go a little. I know for sure that I was allowed to go to a local movie theater with my friends when I was like 12. And I'm talking to and the dark (but had to be home right away when the movie was over...LOL). I cannot imagine my son doing that in another year (when he's 11). LOL! I also was allowed to go out with friends every night but had to be in by like 7/7:30 on school nights when I was about the same age (12) or maybe even 11. But for some reason, I can't remember how old I was before I started walking to and from school alone or with friends. Or, when I was finally allowed to cross streets by myself.

I think I worry too much. Who knows. Our neighborhood is pretty good. But we do have our problems like anywhere else. What to do....what to do. LOL!

Thanks for the advice.

Community Leader
Registered: 12-16-2003
Tue, 05-11-2004 - 7:55am
You know your child and the neighborhood best. My kid go to & forth to school by themselves, dd is in 4th and ds in Kindergarden. We live 2 blocks from school, and there is a parade going to and from everyday. I do believe that there is safety in numbers. There are also no busy streets remotely near us. Our street is just 2 blocks long, with a crossing guard at the next corner and a cop in front of the school, helps our decision as well. Dd is allowed to go into town be herself, it is 4 blocks away, with a friend. This year she and her friends are going to be able to ride to the pool together. She has either the two way radio with or a cell phone, so we can be in contact with each other. The area, business of the streets, and the kids all have to be taken into account.

Ramona  Mom to 2 great kids and wife to one wonderful hubby since 1990!

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-12-1998
Tue, 05-11-2004 - 1:40pm
These issues are so difficult, aren't they? My son turned 10 last October (4th grade) and I started letting him ride his bike, cross the street in the neighborhood, when he was going to a friend's house. I won't just let him ride around yet. Although, when I was 10 I was riding around all over the neighborhood, but that was the 1960's a different life.

I'm still uncomfortable when he occasionally rides to a friends. I just hate it. However, I know that he is 10 and I have to start giving him some freedom. He's now 10.5 and it's scary to think that in 5 years he will be driving a car and I won't even let him ride his bike around the neighborhood!!!

I think that if your son seems safety conscious enough, then I would start letting him go from Point A to Point B. My son is not allowed ourside the neighborhood, which has 400 homes and bikepaths.

This is such a tough decision. Accidents happen, and that just makes me have knots in my stomach. But we have to let them try their wings. And say a little prayer. Good Luck!


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Tue, 05-11-2004 - 2:50pm
Ok first of all it depends on the street. If its the street in front of our house yes, both my 11 year old and 9 year old are allowed to cross it alone. If you are talking about the busy main road that my son wanted permission to cross the other day by himself. NO WAY!! I don't like walking across that street.


I'll hold my head high
I'll never let this define
The light in my eyes
Love myself, give it Hell
I'll take on t

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2003
Tue, 05-11-2004 - 3:17pm

Welcome, welcome!!

Sherrie Rainbow

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-10-2004
Tue, 05-11-2004 - 4:15pm
Thanks for the advice everyone.

I am so torn with this. Maybe even more so because he's my only child. I would die if anything ever happened to him! I know some people feel differently on this subject. For instance, some people say to me "oh don't baby him so much, let him go". With that in mind......there is another friend of my son's in his class (4th grade and the kid is 11) that walks home by himself every day from school with his 1st grade brother. Well, just a few weeks ago this kid's brother got hit by a car on the way home. Turns out he was fine. He actually ran out into the street and into the car we all later found out. Anyway, I remember the cops when they arrived after he got hit. One of the first things out of the one cops mouth was "Why are kids this young allowed to walk home by themselves?" Other parents stood around in agreement with him. This entire situation just made me leery all over again about letting my son out alone, etc.

Just when ya think you are allowing your child the chance to experience a little freedom, something like what the cop said makes you second guess yourself.

If my son asks again to walk to school and home by himself by the time the new school year starts in Sept. (he will be 10 in Aug), I think I will allow him as long as he's with friends. I know he gets frustrated knowing he still walks to and from with "mommy". And, then he sees most of his friends walking home alone already. Heck, we even see Kindergartners walking home alone. I do know how he feels. But, what he also doesn't seem to realize is that while he is only 9 and in 4th grade, most of his classmates are 10, 11 and a few even 12. To me a few years does make a difference sometimes.

The few times my husband and I have sat him down to talk to him about what he would do if a stranger would stop to talk to him/or grab him he responded by saying "I'd kick his butt". It's smart mouthed comments like that he makes that makes me second guess even letting him ride around the corner by himself on his bike let alone walking to school or to a friends house. He thinks he can take on the world sometimes. Most times he seems so mature and ahead of others his age. But other times he still seems immature. Maybe not immature but naive. The avenue crossing and the other big street has me worried if he were to walk to school alone. There are no crossing guards there at all. And, as I said, it's about 9-10 blocks total he would have to walk. There is another way he could take that does have one crossing guard. That way may be the better choice. And if he did start to go alone or with friends, I would insist he go that way.

Times sure are different. I am scared to death! LOL! I wish I didn't have to be so worried. But that's my job I guess. Thanks again!

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2003
Tue, 05-11-2004 - 5:18pm

I know what you mean about worrying coming with the territory (I'm sure it's somewhere in the job description but I've looked and can't find it LOL).

Sherrie Rainbow

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-30-2003
Fri, 05-14-2004 - 8:26am
Hey- I posted something similar to this over on the 7-8 year old board! My girls are 10 and 7. We live in a pretty quiet suburban neighborhood. There are kids in the neighborhood. The girls' best friends since they were babies live right across the street from us. There isn't a whole lot more right near us, but on the next street over, there are tons of elementary school aged kids, 2 of them are my 7-yo's best friends. Up until a couple of weeks ago, I didn't let them go anywhere by themselves. After weeks of pestering, I let them go down the street, provided they have on the small radios that we used at Disney World last year. Took them a while to get the idea of how to use them, but the 10 year old has it down pretty well. In fact, I called her, told them they had to come home, and they both came home when asked! My only rule is that the only homes they are allowed to play at are the ones where I know who the parents are, and they have to call me when they get to their friends home to tell me that there is a parent home ( they can't stay if a babysitter or older sibling is in charge).