Little girl in the white dress walking alone on the street

What is Appropriate Age for Kids to Walk Alone?

Kids can start walking to school, to their friends’ houses, or sports practice alone around their 10th birthday. This is because younger kids are more impulsive and are less aware of potential dangers when walking alone. However, some kids at the age of 6 can walk alone if the route they are going is simple and accompanied by a group of friends.

Many parents struggle with giving their kids enough independence, and when is the right time to do so? It’s one of the hardest things to do as a parent. In no time at all, they’re sleeping over at friends’ houses, riding bicycles around the neighborhood, and walking to school alone. 

But, growing up is a normal part of childhood, and parents’ feeling that way is totally legit. However, many of them are still not sure how to recognize whether their kid is independent enough to walk alone and if is there a perfect time to do so. Let’s find out.

When Can Kids Walk Alone?

As we mentioned above, kids can start walking alone to school or friends’ houses at age 10 which is about fifth grade. This was announced by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).


The age of 10 is considered to be the age at which most kids can judge the speed and distance of oncoming cars from a developmental viewpoint. Pediatricians and clinical assistants suggest taking the following into account if you’re not sure whether your kid can manage the trek on their own:

  • The kids’ maturity
  • A sense of direction and orientation 
  • Sense of safety

You should also pay attention to how much your kid is interested in walking alone and whether are they asking questions about the route, unknown roads, things about where to go, and similar. Besides that, consider the distance and type of roads on which they will be walking.

Signs Your Kid isn’t Ready for Walking Alone

Regardless of how mature your 10-year-old is, he or she may not yet be ready to walk alone just yet. Maybe the distance is too long and the road is busy, but maybe your kid is just not ready yet, and that’s okay. Those are the kids who are easily distracted and don’t always look before crossing a street so they need their parent’s supervision.


Another major thing to consider is how your kid feels about walking alone. The opportunity to handle such a “big kid” task may appeal to some kids, but not to all of them. There may be a time when a kid is unwilling or does not feel comfortable walking alone and in those situations, kids shouldn’t. Instead of forcing them, ensure you ask them what are their fears, and what are they afraid of to help alleviate them.

Why is Walking to School Good?

Walking to school is good for many reasons and here we’ll mention a few of them. 

Avoiding morning traffic 

Even when you are running late, taking a car ride can get you nowhere since everyone is rushing in those morning hours. This can even make situation worse and make you late more than you would by taking a walk. Besides that, finding a parking spot will be as difficult. So, before you opt to take a ride, consider how much time you will need to travel by car. Is it worth it?

Saving a few bucks

Riding every day to school and back can cost parent’s a lot of gas money. Consider taking a bike or a walk. You will not only save money but you will be more active along with your kid and you will have extra time to bond with your children. 

Contributions to the environment 

Our kids are taught early on the importance of saving the environment. Walking instead of driving has a huge eco-benefit. Cars emit harmful gases which are very harmful to our planet, animals, planets, and of course, ourselves. 


Helps in proper brain functioning 

Walking increases blood circulation, which increases the amount of oxygen delivered to the brain. This promotes the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which calms the kid down before school. Additionally, it releases dopamine and endorphins, which make your youngster feel happy and rewarded as they start their school day.

Increases socialization

Even a short walk with other kids can help them socialize, which is important for kids’ development. Having a group of friends to go to school with is a terrific method for youngsters to become closer. They can talk about what’s exciting or frightening them on the route to and from school, and they can unwind and think about what happened that day. Most significantly, students who walk to school have a great chance to socialize with neighbors with whom they might not otherwise have contact while at school.

Road safety rules 

Parents consider kids’ safety all the time, especially if they are walking alone. But if you teach your kid’s road safety rules that they must obey, your worries will be much less. 

As soon as they can understand, children should begin learning these fundamental road rules. It takes time, so parents should be patient. With practice and experience, it becomes a skill that lasts a lifetime. So once your kid knows all the rules and how to obey them, they will be prepared for taking those independent walks

Nurtures independence

As parents, you need to give your kids the freedom to take responsibility for their actions. Allowing your kid to walk alone allows them to develop a sense of responsibility and accountability. For example, you could even reward them for demonstrating trustworthiness this way.

Teach Your Kids Road Safety Skills

As your kids get older, you can start teaching them road safety rules to prepare them for walking independently. Teach your kids to:

  • Never run on streets.
  • Always walk on the pavement side.
  • Always cross the street on the Zebra crossings.
  • Keep an eye on traffic when crossing. Always look both ways.
  • Never cross the road when using a mobile phone or another electronic device.
  • Never cross in the middle of the block; always cross at the intersection when there are traffic lights.
  • Never cross the road if you are listening to music.
  • When crossing the street, be aware of turning vehicles.
  • Never follow a stranger or go with them. The definition of a safe adult is someone who is already agreed upon as a caregiver. This could be a grandparent, a neighbor, or someone else who is well-known to your kid. 
  • To increase kids’ visibility, make them wear brightly colored clothing or a reflective armband or vest.
  • When it may be safe for your kid to go to school depends on the route. A route without busy street crossings might be safer at a young age, whereas one with intersections is suitable for older kids with more maturity.

Determine safe routes 

Allowing your kid to walk alone to school or their friend’s house on foot can be a real privilege. By doing this you foster independence and trustworthiness between you and your kid. But besides knowing and obeying the road safety rules, you need to determine the safest routes. If you are sending your kid to walk alone, consider these points:

  • Avoid high-traffic streets
  • Search for roads with limited speed
  • Avoid alleyways and unlit areas
  • Consider routes that have a lot of shops and stores 
  • Plan a route that passes around familiar-people houses
  • Avoid busy crossings and opt for those with lights and signaling
  • Make a route where there are bus stops in case your kid needs to leave quickly

Tips for Kids Walking Alone

Aside from road safety rules, ensure your kids know all the necessary things when walking alone. You can do that by following these simple tips.

Pre-walk the route together

Use every opportunity to walk the route with your kid to help them feel comfortable about walking alone, whether it’s walking to school, sports practice, or a friend’s house. Point out significant buildings, homes, shops, and other distinctive features. By doing this, your youngster can memorize the route and learns how to find the path if they somehow miss it. Test out a few options to see which is the fastest or most straightforward to remember.

Make the safest choice

As we mentioned above, the safest path is a must, but doing so also enables you to keep an eye on your kid’s awareness of the road. After you and your kid have taken each route, discuss which one they believe to be the safest. Talk about the many challenges they can face along each route, such as navigating crowded streets or finding zebra crossings.

Choose the path that has the fewest busy intersections, with fewer cars, and try to look for crossings with traffic signals. Ensure your kid isn’t using any pathways with poor lighting or few bystanders, and look for streets with streetlights.

Always have an alternate route 

In case your kid gets into trouble or cannot follow their regular route, you should have a backup plan. Ensure your kid knows the alternative route home as well as they know their primary one. If they get confused make sure they can call you so you can come and pick them up.

Educate them about the strangers

People love having little talks with youngsters on the street because our culture has evolved to be highly empathic. Although this is enjoyable, it can be confusing for young kids who are unsure of which adults to trust. 

Discuss various scenarios with your kids and teach them to take safety precautions if they feel unsafe near an adult, such as never going with a stranger, calling if they are scared, returning to school to find a reliable adult such as a teacher, etc.

Provide them a mobile phone

While some people are for their kids using mobile some are against it. However, a phone gives you a point of contact for your kid. It also means they can call you or the police if the case any danger. 

Of course, they should not use the phone while crossing the street, so ensure you teach your kids how to properly use the phone! If your kid ever needs assistance, store all emergency phone numbers on the device and set them on speed dial.

Determine safe spots

Determine a safe place to go if your kid gets into trouble on the way home or cannot contact you. While practicing the route, point out some safe places where your kid can seek help — so they don’t have to ask a stranger for help. Make contact with your neighborhood newsstand, cafe, coffee shop, etc. they will undoubtedly be delighted to assist your kid in case of any danger.

No headphones rule

Listening to music and crossing the roads or walking is a big no, no. All of the senses must be functioning properly for road safety, and kids must be on guard at all times. They won’t be able to hear traffic if they are wearing headphones and listening to music, which is incredibly dangerous.

Walking buddies

When kids are walking together, they can keep an eye on one another’s backs and are better able to recall the directions. Additionally, it implies that if the kid disappears, authorities will be alerted right away. Find neighbors’ kids, form a walking group of buddies and let them walk together. 


  • Petra Moskatelo

    Petra is the main editor and writer here at Footmeter. She is passionate about helping people find the right solution. She holds a university Master's degree in pedagogy, and she knows a lot about children and learning.