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Children walking to school by themselves in Hong Kong

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jun 2003
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    Beacon Hill, Kowloon.
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    Children walking to school by themselves in Hong Kong

    We live a 5 minute walk (350 metres) to my sons Primary School. There is no road to cross, it's a straight pavement all the way down the hill. By Hong Kong standards where we are located is relatively suburban, so heavy traffic, apart from the school run.

    I think my 5.5 year old son is mature enough to start walking to school by himself. Very good with crossing the road. Aware of stranger danger. Who are 'safe' adults to ask for help if he got lost.

    But he doesn't want to. He's usually pretty independent with most things. (He's the eldest). He'll happily run down towards the playground by himself, (which is past the school).

    I think it's a developmental milestone, like feeding yourself, or getting yourself dressed, etc. None of his friends walk to school, as they are either on school bus, parents drive them in, or they walk with their domestic helpers.

    We walked down this morning and I said I would shadow him, walking about 75 meters behind him. He was pretty upset, but continued with coaxing, but arrived at school crying.

    Thoughts please.


  2. #2

    Join Date
    Sep 2002
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    Hong Kong
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    Hiya!

    Personally I think Y1 child is a bit young to be walking to school by himself, but you know your child best. My Y4 guy is a bit of a daydreamer I can't see him doing this for another year or so. Plus I don't know how busy the drop off gets by your school, but at our school its a bit chaotic. Most parents are more alert and we all stop our cars across from school and help our kids cross the road. But then there are some chauffeurs who pull up on the pavement on the same side of the school whilst kids are walking, which is so dangerous.

    Good luck with your decision!

    Last edited by ESFMum; 11-02-2011 at 12:30 PM.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Yuen Long District
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    I know a couple of P1 children to walk to school by themselves happily, but almost all of them are escorted. I walked to Kindy with my cousins and neighborhood friends back home, when I was a kid, but never alone. It was reassuring for me that I had others around me. The world is pretty big and out of control in the eyes of a five year old. There is safety in numbers, I instinctively knew.

    I think that if you want your son to be independent from YOU, that's fine, but perhaps arrange to have a classmate or two meet up with him at your house so they can walk together. That's not only fun for him, but bonding with his friends is important. And perhaps if the friend can't make it one day, he will be OK to go by himself at that time.


  4. #4

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    Feb 2008
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    HK Island
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    Our ESF school stipulates that all children Y1-4 need to be picked up (either from school or the bus stop), they won't be allowed to walk by themselves.


  5. #5

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    Mar 2003
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    New Territories
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    I would say keep accompanying him to school until he feels comfortable. I walked to school w/ my older sister and a group of "big kids" (ooh, they must have been ages 7-9) when I was 5 and 6 & felt comfortable walking alone when I was 6 or 7.


  6. #6

    Join Date
    Sep 2004
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    hk
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    i think that 5.5 is too young. there is no way i'd send my 6 year old by himself and he, too, knows how to cross the road, who to ask for help etc...

    i would think closer to 7-8 years old would be more appropriate. a 5 year old just does not have the same reasoning power that an older child would have in case something went wrong.


  7. #7

    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    DB, Hong Kong
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    I remember walking to and from school when I was 6. Now I know what you are all going say! That was in the 'old' days when it was safer blah blah. BUT I think HK is as safe today as what Australia was when I walked by myself.

    And then we have that American boy that caught the subway and the mother was criticised for it ...

    I think though your DS doesn't want to then don't push him. He knows he can and when he is ready he will tell you he can do it by himself.

    I am waiting until my DD is seven. Not because I don't think she could do it or it is not safe enough, just because I think she will forget what she was doing half way to school and then miss the bus!


  8. #8
    TNT
    TNT is offline

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    Feb 2010
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    I guess whether or not a child is too young to walk to school on their own at 5.5 is a perspective thing, although personally I agree with Carang. And I think most would agree that it is a young age to walk anywhere on your own, although I think being able to walk to school on your own in HK is fantastic as for many it is not possible.
    However the real issue is that if he is not comfortable to do it, then FOR HIM it is too young and I'm not sure why you would want to make him - you said he is pretty independent generally, so not sure why you think it is something he should do now? Not being critical, just didn't understand why it was so important to you given that it is not something that his friends etc are doing.


  9. #9

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    Jun 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jo Bowd
    We live a 5 minute walk. There is no road to cross. He'll happily run down towards the playground by himself, (which is past the school). I think it's a developmental milestone.
    Thanks for all of your opinions.

    I have since decided not to continue to teach him how to walk to school by himself, as we are planning to return to the UK in the next 18 months. I've decided that it would be unfair to him to provide him independence that I may not be happy to replicate in the UK.

    As I said I think it's a developmental milestone. I often see children still dependent on adult care givers in many activities of daily living and I do not want that for my children.

  10. #10

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    Nov 2009
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    Jo Bowd, I was just thinking about what you said about meeting a milestone, my son is pretty independent like yours and runs on his own to school from a drop off point (where our car is parked) to school which is quite a distance. I don't think it's all our a milestone/independence thing, I've noticed that his sense of danger is not as heightened as mine/any other child.

    In fact, he would happily walk home from the Club House all the way home, without a care, without waiting for us ... like an adult would. But one day, my helper lost him and he just completely lost it... his confidence and this independence. So although I think it's a milestone thing, I think it has to do with their sheltered young lives i.e. nothing bad has happened to them and so they seem independent and confident until something bad happens and it changes their perspective?

    Anyway, even though I think HK is quite safe, there are lots of predators out there. And as much as I promote his independence, I would never let him walk to school alone. And, I've also wondered if it's legal. There are rules about this in HK - about young kids being on their own at home/in public. I think parents can be dragged to court for negligence especially if something (even an accident) happened to them.


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