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Divameow77 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-20-06 11:56 AM
Original message
Latchkey Kids... what age is appropriate?
I have recently started letting my 9 year old (4th grade) get himself off to school and come home after school a few times a week. He is alone for almost an hour in the morning and a little over an hour and a half in the afternoon. I kinda feel like 9 is too young but he was recently suspended off the bus for 3 days and I really didn't have a choice. It went well those days and he wants to do it more so I am seeing how it goes, plus it's nice to get a little break on daycare.

How old were your kids when they stayed home by themselves?
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Whoa_Nelly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-20-06 12:01 PM
Response to Original message
1. Age 10
Edited on Mon Nov-20-06 12:02 PM by Whoa_Nelly
And only very occasionally, and usually a friend was with my son.

In NV, where we lived at the time, no child can be a latch key kid (stay home alone) until age 10 or older. Not that it doesn't happen, but it is enforced if reported.

Are there age limits in your state?

edited for fisrt cup of coffee typos :eyes:
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Divameow77 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-20-06 12:06 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. I did some research
and while there are guidlines recommended by the Department of Human Services, there are no laws. They actually said 9 to 10 years olds for up to 2 hours, this is in Minnesota.
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BarenakedLady Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-20-06 12:01 PM
Response to Original message
2. Funny you mention this
Just this past Friday, because of scheduling issues, My 9 yr old was in the house alone after school for 45 minutes for the first time. I'm such a worry wart that I called her just to make sure she got off the bus and in the house ok. Then she was alone again for about 1/2 hour later that afternoon. She was in heaven, feeling like such the big girl.

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Divameow77 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-20-06 12:07 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. I know,
I make him call me the minute he gets home from school.
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jobycom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-20-06 12:21 PM
Response to Reply #2
8. That's not a worry wart, that's a good parent.
I'm against being over-protective, and I'm for giving a child responsibility (how else will they ever learn it?), but calling to check frequently is just common sense. It also lets the kid know that she isn't completely without supervision, that there are still rules, and maybe most importantly, that you do care about them. If you didn't call, your daughter might feel neglected, even a little rejected.
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flvegan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-20-06 12:09 PM
Response to Original message
5. I had just turned 9 when I was a "latchkey kid"
Both in the morning before school as well as after.
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Divameow77 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-20-06 12:12 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. I think I was too
I seem to remember 4th grade being able to come home alone after school.

I have negotiated an hourly rate with his daycare so that on days off a school and really cold days he can go to her house with his little brother. Cold, because he has to walk to and from school from home, but takes the bus from her house.
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jobycom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-20-06 12:16 PM
Response to Original message
7. Depends on the 9 year old, but I would think that's a little young, in general
IIRC, we left my 9 year old alone now and then, but only to run to the store and such things. When she was ten, she began staying home alone more often. I've crafted my job around being home in the afternoons, so she's not alone on a regular basis. Over the summer, when she was ten, we began leaving her home during the day.

From eleven on, we felt we could leave her to watch her younger sister during the summer, with only a minimal of supervision (meaning we called every hour or two, and came home for lunch--and of course, I would be there by three in the afternoon), and we left them together when we needed to run erands.

I would think nine is okay on occassion, maybe even once or twice a week, but I would be nervous to make it full time. Even if he is completely responsible beyond his years, he is still young to handle a genuine emergency (house on fire, robbery, etc). My biggest fear leaving my daughter home alone wasn't her ability to behave, it was the fear of what someone else could do to her, ranging from genuine evil people to just older kids up to mischief.

Some depends on your neighbors, too. We have a couple of close neighbors with young kids, and everyone watches out for the others' kids, so we know she would have some place to run in an emergency.

I would say leaving him alone on a trial basis, but not on a regular pattern, would be a good way to judge his maturity, and to teach him responsibility. I'd just be nervous leaving him alone all the time like that. He might get too used to his own freedom, and be less responsive to supervision later on, too.

Just my thoughts. All kids are different, and all neighborhoods are different, so they may have nothing to do with your situation.
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Shine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-20-06 12:25 PM
Response to Original message
9. About 10.
my youngest just turned 10 and I've left her alone only for about an hour or so, at most. Her older brother (13) is usually with her, so that's when I've left them alone for longer. Of course, that's with constant phone contact, too. :D

It's a big deal to move to that stage, isn't it? Good luck! :hi:
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Ravenseye Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-20-06 12:27 PM
Response to Original message
10. Depends on the child and neighborhood.
It depends on the child, and the neighborhood, and the house, etc, but even in the best conditions I think they'd need to be at least 9 years old. My initial gut feeling was 10. Fifth grade. There's no question in my head that a seventh grader can handle it at age 12, and that most sixth graders at age 11 should have no problems whatsoever as well. Age 10, in fifth grade, I think should be capable of it. Maybe 9 year olds, but that's pushing it.

If the neighborhood is fairly dense, where the child could go next door if necessary in emergency, it reduces the age, whereas if the house is practically in the middle of nowhere, or in a demilitarized zone the age probably increases.

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Courtesy Flush Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-20-06 12:29 PM
Response to Original message
11. I get asked this all the time
I work for Social Services, and people call us trying to get a definite age (usually so they can report someone, and get them in trouble).

It's really not that black and white. It's the parent's job to know his child's capabilities, which often has nothing to do with their age. A child who knows how to follow the house rules, not turn on the stove, etc; can call his parents when anything happens, and who has trusted adults he call in the neighborhood, is a good candidate.

We were latchkey kids from an early age, but It didn't work for us. My brother used the unsupervised time to get into all kinds of trouble, and my sister went to play down by the river and drowned.

Remember, you're putting a lot of responsibility on your child. It's you job to know what they can handle.
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Divameow77 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-20-06 12:38 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. I feel like he can handle it
but I wouldn't leave him for long periods of time, or ever expect him to watch his 4 year old brother at this age either. We live in the city and he knows the neighbors on one side of our house, he also knows my cell, but I should probably put a list of other numbers he needs to know on the fridge. He knows not to answer the door, always make sure its locked, never to tell anyone calling that he's alone, not even to answer the phone unless he knows the number on caller-id, etc. I feel like he can handle it, but I dno't want to leave him alone everyday, he does go to after-school activities 2 days a week and I pick him up.
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LeftyMom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-20-06 12:42 PM
Response to Original message
13. I was home alone overnights with my 3 year old sister from 7 on.
Needless to say, what's made unavoidable by economics isn't always what's safe. :(

A kid of your child's age home alone for an hour or so in the afternoon doesn't sound worrisome to me, but you know your kid and have a good idea of the wisdom of it.
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Nikia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-20-06 07:51 PM
Response to Original message
14. My sister and I were in first and second grade
We walked home alone at 3:00 p.m. and called our grandmother when we got home. We had about 30 minutes of chores to do when we got home and then we watched television or played or read. Our mother got home after 5. We didn't stay home alone all day until 6th and 7th grade. We were never left home alone overnight, even in high school though.
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Redstone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-20-06 07:54 PM
Response to Original message
15. Depends on the kid, but I'd start with 10 as a baseline.
Redstone
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Tripper11 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-20-06 08:01 PM
Response to Original message
16. Divameow77..we have a 9yr old daughter that....
We started to let Nikki walk to and from school this year. It was scary as hell for us even though the school is only about 5 blocks away.
I remember last year her asking why we didn't trust her to walk home from school(I walked in kindergarten for gawd's sake!)
I told her that I trusted her 100%, but it was the creeps and freaks out there I didn't trust and that no matter how smart she was, these assholes can be ruthless. I felt honesty with her was best.
Since then we have gotten a wonderful dog and she stays home alone all the time. She actually likes it. It's not for a long time, perhaps 3 hours at the very most once a week, and an hour here and there during the week.
The dog is a good guard dog, great disposition and her bark is such that anyone with half a mind we go somewhere else.
Nikki knows to only answer the phone if it's my wife or me. She calls when she gets in which is nice as well.
Oh, and she always calls to ask for snacks or drinks...seriously!
Her older brother(13) on the other hand has some mental illness issues that we have been dealing with for a long time. Lately he's been showing great maturity and good choices, but that can change on a dime so we tend to not let him stay alone much. Maybe a half hour here and there.
So I personally think it is very much a case by case basis. Trust and maturity play a huge role in determining when a kid can stay home alone or walk home alone.
It's a scary world out there, and I would do anything to protect my kids, but by the same token they have to learn to live life on their own too, even a little at a time.
Hope this helps.
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