What is the right age for kids to start travelling around the city by themselves? If you live in a big city, when do we decide that our kids are mentally mature enough to begin navigating through train stations and bus lines alone?
Let’s break down these questions and explore the benefits and risks.
Things to consider
- The journey — how long is the trip? Are there different modes of transport that need to be taken? Such as the train then bus. Does my child need to cross the road?
- Is my child mature enough? — Are they able to be sensible and streetwise? Are they mindful of traffic signals and pavement markings?
Mental development occurs, and children begin to apply logic and reasoning to concrete events at about age 10. Peripheral vision also forms at this stage. Before age nine, kids have not developed the sensory awareness needed to remain safe while crossing roads and manoeuvring around cars.
From 10 years old and onward, children develop logical thought, deductive reasoning abilities, and longer attention spans. Kids have a better sense of safety and are aware of risks.
A good rule of thumb is the longer and busier the travel route, the older the child must be.
- Save time — Mornings are often the most hectic time for families. The school drop off can be taxing for working parents who need to get to their jobs on time. A child who knows how to get themselves to school on time without having a parent accompany them is a major load off. Time is saved, and mornings are more efficient.
- Foster a sense of independence — Solo commuting is a great way for kids to learn responsibilities and overcome challenges. By conquering fears, kids become more independent thus becoming more confident in taking on other tasks. Soon they will be able to prepare a simple meal for themselves or help with household chores. Building skills and mastering tasks boosts self-esteem and gives kids a greater sense of achievement.
Let’s review a couple tips on how to prepare children for riding solo.
For kids 10 years old and older, it may be time to invest in smart devices. A smartphone may be the obvious choice with its myriad of functions but if you don’t want to give your children the risks and responsibilities of a smartphone (a whole other set of worries), there are other options that include more parental controls and safety features. Look into smart watches that have calling and location tracking features. The dokiWatch S has calling and GPS tracking, so you can see your child’s location through an app on your phone. It even has an SOS emergency button that will alert parents when pressed.
Let them take the reins
The next time you’re on a bus or train with your children, encourage them to figure out which line to take, connecting train to get on, and exit to walk to. Read bus signs together and let them determine which numbered bus takes you to your destination.
By doing this, children become more familiar with the routine of taking themselves to school. They also learn how to recognize roads and signs.
Ultimately, only you will really know what your children can handle. Trust your instincts to know when your child is ready to commute to school alone. If they are alert and pays attention to their surroundings, then they may be ready to handle solo travelling. If they ignore street signs and easily distracted, then it’s probably best to wait.
This article was written by Doki Technologies, a tech company aimed at creating smart devices for kids.