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Appropriate age for home alone

Old 02-12-2019, 06:51 AM
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Default Appropriate age for home alone

Wondering what the age range is where you might feel ok with your child being home alone after school, as opposed to going to an afterschool program? Child is 10, 4th grade, and we are suburban. The logistics would be that she would be home 60 -90 minutes alone. We have a couple of neighbors who get home around the same time she does, so she has them if needed. Small town, but still possible for something to go awry.

We have been working on home safety and things, such as how to lock/unlock doors, garage doors, phones etc. Not letting anyone in/answering doors etc. What else did you do to feel comfortable with this scenario when your kids reached this point? Considering adding video doorbell and a camera inside the house so that we can verify that homework is being done and that shenanigans are kept to a minimum.
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Old 02-12-2019, 06:59 AM
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10 seems a little young.
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Old 02-12-2019, 07:00 AM
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Sounds good to me, daylight, neighbors, short timespan. If she wants to do it let her try.
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Old 02-12-2019, 07:16 AM
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It's kid dependent. I know some 10 year olds I would not trust and some I would. I think I was in third or fourth grade when I started staying home alone. We started letting our daughter walk home from school in fifth grade. I would have been fine with her doing it in fourth but her mom wasn't comfortable.

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Old 02-12-2019, 07:17 AM
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Totally depends on your daughter.

Does she have common sense?
Does she tend to panic in stressful situations?
Does she become nervous over stressful situations?
Does she possess street smarts? Like: Guy dressed as a UPS man knocks on the door, but there's no UPS truck outside! Stuff like that!

If you answered yes to all those things.....Then that's an easy yes she certainly can be left alone, especially for that short of time period. It all depends on the child! I know kids that can be left at home and are currently 7-8 years old, but the street smarts is off the charts. If I fly them into Bangkok and dropped them off they would be fine!
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Old 02-12-2019, 07:21 AM
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If a "mature" 10 year old, I would be ok with that little time span. It would be nice if you had a way to keep in contact. Having some sort of phone would be a necessity for emergency. When my son started staying home by himself for short stints we talked about many scenarios and protocols. One of which is not often thought of - choking. She comes home and pipes down some chips and get one lodged, what does she do? I would make her a plan for that unlikely scenario.
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Old 02-12-2019, 07:25 AM
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Kid and situation dependant. Your case sounds fairly ideal. I myself was walking a bit over a mile home from schools most days in 3'rd and 4'th grade. Route had sidewalks except for on our small street, and I walked daily with a friend up the street. Many days we rode our bikes to and from school if the weather was good. Rarely got home to noone being there, but wasn't unheard of. Had great neighbors close by, and the chief of police across the street. We moved to the family farm after 4'th grade, and I and my younger brother/sister at that point would regularly stay home by ourselves for several hours. Aunt/uncle shared a driveway with us, dad's cousin next to him, and grandparents across the road. They would all know if we were there alone.

My only counter would be to consider continuing with afterschool programs if they are high quality and reasonably priced. Many allot time to knock out homework, socialize with piers in a fairly controlled environment. On the homework side it definitely doesn't replace parental involvement on helping, but can provide a window to knock out the mundane part that they don't need assistance with.

Last edited by autobaun70; 02-12-2019 at 07:30 AM.
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Old 02-12-2019, 07:25 AM
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My kids are 12, 11, and 9. 11 yr old daughter is extremely mature and responsible. My 12 year old boy is......well, a 12 year old boy. 9 year daughter has a good head on her shoulders but is still 9. We leave them home for 1-3 hours, but always ensure an adult is reachable by phone, and able to respond quickly (i.e. be there in 10-15 minutes if necessary). We also have family that lives nearby and neighbors with whom we have good relationships. Never at night, and they know the 'house rules' for when we're out (never answer the door for ANYONE - even if you think it is me; NO cooking; NO swimming; NO playing in the yard; etc.)
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Old 02-12-2019, 07:26 AM
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We started leaving our kids alone for short periods of time (up to an hour) when they were 8 and 10 years old. But we left a pair of them together so they always had each other to "lean-on" if something was needed. Both were relatively mature for their ages and responsible. We left a cell phone with them. And they were instructed to lock all the house door and don't open for anyone. We also left 2 large dogs in the house with them (one of the dogs is very protective).

Now that the kids are older, 12 and 14, they are home alone all the time without issue.

As others have said, you need to evaluate the maturity of your child and make you that not only YOU are comfortable leaving them alone, but also that they are comfortable too.
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Old 02-12-2019, 07:33 AM
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After reading the post about the 12 year old girl and 15 year old boy......not until they leave the house for college!
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Old 02-12-2019, 07:38 AM
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I was home alone at 9 for a couple hours a day but that was the 50s when kids were allowed to play outside. I did have a few adventures cooking on a gas stove but nothing that I didn't live through. That really continued through my whole life and now that my wife retired, it bothers me a little that I am never home alone.
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Old 02-12-2019, 08:13 AM
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A boy? 30. A girl? 8-10.
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Old 02-12-2019, 08:15 AM
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There is no magic age and depends solely upon the kid. My kids came home from school on the bus (dropped off at driveway) and went inside until my wife would get home an hour later. Both were around 10/11 at the time. I didn't worry about them doing anything bad/stupid and basically told them not to answer the door nor the phone unless it was one of us. I've known some kids at 18 I wouldn't leave home alone.
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Old 02-12-2019, 08:15 AM
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There isn't one. I think it depends a lot on where you live and the individual child. Some are more mature than others. I was left alone when I was 8 while my parents would go to dinner. I was fine as I was pretty self-sufficient and always had a number for the restaurant in case of emergencies. Doors locked, alarm on, don't open any of them.

That said, little one is now 8 and I think it may be 12-13 before she gets left alone.
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Old 02-12-2019, 08:46 AM
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Depends if you have any adopted 15 year old boys living near by.
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Old 02-12-2019, 08:48 AM
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Thanks - as expected there is a range - apparently from 8 -30. I think she is a bit too young yet, but the day is coming.
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Old 02-12-2019, 08:49 AM
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I agree with others, it does depend on the maturity of the individual child. However I think 10 is a little young, unless the child is very mature. I think 12 would be more the norm.
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Old 02-12-2019, 08:51 AM
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Mass probably has a some official agency "guidance" on it.
In NY the NYS Office of Child & Family Services states 12 or 13 - - you can bet that if you left your child home at age 11 and NYS found out about it, despite there being no set age in law, that the NYS Office of Child & Family Services would be paying you a visit.
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Old 02-12-2019, 09:30 AM
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I would try to get a work schedule adjusted, 30 mins at home would be easy
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Old 02-12-2019, 09:34 AM
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Depends on the kid, at 10 years old, I was taking the Jon boat out with my friends.
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