Is Your Child Home Alone After School? Tips
to Make Latch Key Kids Safer
The reasons for a "home alone" arrangement for a child can be many and varied, but deciding
whether a child is ready to stay home alone after school is tough for most parents.
Very often it is simply a matter of necessity. Many single working moms, for example, are not available when the school day ends for their child.
Add to that the increasing loss of after-school programs due to local budget cuts, and a parent is left with no other choice than to allow their children to become independent a little sooner than they would like.
"Discuss what your child should do if someone knocks at the door or telephones..."
In many countries the decision is based on
community laws, but most agree that by 10 or 12 many young tweens are ready to
take this step towards independence. But
age is only one factor. Parents need to assess their child's level of maturity
before making this step.
Is your child confident and independent? Can your child
cope in an emergency? Will siblings be home alone together? If a fight erupts
with no parents to referee can they avoid getting physical? Can you be reached
for help if an emergency does develop?
If your child is ready to be home alone, prepare a plan that includes this safety checklist:
• Practice locking and unlocking doors with your child.
• Show your child where the first aid kit is and review first aid and fire safety
Prepare an emergency power blackout kit with flashlight and battery operated radio.
Review emergency phone numbers and post them within easy reach.
Discuss what your child should do if someone knocks at the door or telephones.
Direct your child to lock all doors once safely home and to call you to check
Establish phone rules and whether your child may have friends to visit.
Schedule homework, snacking and TV watching.
Arrange for back-up help from a trusted friend or neighbor.
Continue to monitor the arrangement.