So we’re reaching that point where I’m beginning to wonder if some of the kids are old enough to stay home alone for short periods of time.
Luke is 11 and Noah will be in another couple months. The girls (at 9.5 and almost 8) are still a bit young.
Plus I’m not sure I would trust the combination of the boys and the girls.
(Certain children should not be left alone with certain other children at this point lest they annoy each other to death. I’m not naming names.)
I’m not sure that either boy would necessarily WANT to be left home alone but I think the two of them together for say, a run to the store, might do okay. (I would take the girls with me.)
I try to think back to how old I was when I was first left home alone. I’m the baby of the family with 7 years between me and the oldest brother so I remember lots of times where I was home with one or both brothers.
On one such occasion a man called, I answered the phone, he proceeded to ask me a question or two (don’t remember what) but at the point he asked me what color my underwear were I screamed, hung up the phone and ran to my brother. Completely weirded out over that one. Then there was the time I stapled my finger and ran howling to Phil who calmly pulled the staple out of my thumb.
So I’m curious. How do you decide if your kids are old enough? I did some Googling (seriously, what did we do before the internet) and found this list from the American Academy of Pediatrics that shows the “most important factors in determining readiness to be home alone.”
- Does he know her full name, address and phone number? Does he know your full name as well, and the address and phone number of how to reach you?
- Does he have an established routine to follow so she knows what she is supposed to do and where he is supposed to be?
- Can your child use the telephone correctly, particularly when calling you, a neighbor or emergency services (911)? Which neighbors are available quickly?
- When he returns home from school every day, does your child know how to lock the door behind him? Can he remember to call you and/or a neighbor as soon as he arrives home, and then check in again at designated times?
- Have you instructed your child never to enter your home if a door is ajar, or if a window is open or broken?
- Have you talked about what to do if someone knocks at the front door while he is home alone? (The best advice: He should not open the door and should tell the person knocking that you are home but are busy and unable to answer the door.)
- Have you and your child discussed how he should exit your home quickly in case of a fire? Does he know which exits are safest, depending on the location of the fire? Does he know what to do in case of an emergency or a tornado, and is he familiar with basic first aid (e.g. applying pressure to a cut?)
- Rules for staying home alone should be written down and posted somewhere so there’s no confusion. Can friends come over? How much TV is allowed? Can he use the stove?
So those are “rules” and “guidelines” and that’s great, but how do you gauge your child’s maturity level which I think is what dictates how well they can make the head knowledge (of the stuff above) apply in a real-life situation?
Any ideas? Other than a test run of really short time periods?