Why Walking is Best

We are in the middle of summer. You have read your beach books and feel like you want to jump into something different and helpful. My two parenting books are available at a fabulously reduced price. Come and take a look. Place an order. You will be glad you did. They are easy to read, filled with practical advice, contain question and answer sections.

And the highlight is the afterword in But Nobody Told Me I’d Ever Have to Leave Home. My children wrote it and it contains anecdotes about their individual trips to maturity. I didn’t see this chapter until it went to the printer; it is truly theirs!

I have also posted my first podcast, an interview with one of my favourite broadcaster, Gary Doyle from 570 News in Kitchener, Ontario.

When you go to my web page to read the article in this newsletter you will see that I have been blogging between newsletters.

The newsletters will continue to arrive regularly. The blogs will appear when a news story, an article or an experience prompts me to add my opinion. They will be announced on twitter so come and follow me.

I have noticed and am thrilled that some of you are from Ottawa and the New England states. I am happy to let you know that I will be in Ottawa and New England this Fall. Contact me and let me know whether you would like a professional development event, a Beyond Childcare experience or a parenting workshop. For my readers in these parts of the world, let’s talk. It’s a great deal for you because there will be no travel costs and I’d love to be able to take advantage of the fact that I am in your town and can offer you quality parenting information.

This is a great time of the year to take the kids for a walk. And while you’re walking, how about teaching your kids how to get to school on their own.

Getting to School – Why Walking is Best.

“Soon it will be time to go back to school, so I’m going to teach you how to walk there on your own.”

I have lived close to a number of different schools over the years and they have one thing in common. Traffic jams.

Parents pull up and double and sometimes triple park, they jaywalk with their kids often within yards of a crosswalk and/or a crossing guard and then they dart back through traffic to get on with their day. It’s a nightmare and certainly not safe.

The children are learning that it’s okay to ignore the crosswalk and crossing guards. They learn to dodge and weave between cars. And they learn that they are not capable of getting themselves to school.

Those aren’t the lessons parents plan on teaching. They want to keep their kids safe. I know that if asked, they would also say that they want their children to become capable and independent.

Delivering children to their school has become an accepted practice but we need to look at it and re-consider. Is this a helpful and healthy practice for our school-aged children?

The answer is no.

Walking to school is an important part of growing up and maturing. They learn how to get from point A (home) to point B (school). Being able to handle this builds self-esteem. Self-esteem is built on challenge and eventual success. Learning how to get to school may be an initial challenge for kids but when they succeed it’s such a good feeling.

The trick is that I know you don’t want your child walking all by himself. So talk to your neighbours, talk to the parent committee, watch to see who travels the same routes as you. If you can encourage the members of your child’s class or the parents at a parent committee meeting of the value of children walking to school you’re in good shape.

Besides self-esteem and growing independence issues walking is healthy. Kids who walk to school are automatically getting daily exercise. It helps them make the transition from home to school. They become part of their community as they pass neighbour’s homes, corner stores, parks and businesses. What they might not notice when driven to school is obvious when they walk past.

So how does this happen? It starts tomorrow. You need to teach them how to make the walk and where they are going. So take Kenisha or Riley by the hand and start walking. As you walk, you talk. Describe where you are and where you are going. Teach them how to cross the streets. After a few days of this, reverse position. Now the child talks and leads the walk telling you where they are going and how they will do it. Step three is letting them go first with you following and just watching. You will be amazed at how competent and capable they have become.

Still nervous? For parents who are not ready to let the kids walk on their own, an alternative is to set up a walking school bus program. Check out www.walkingschoolbus.org for more information.  In this program a designated parent (you can take turns) walks a pre-determined route picking up kids on the way until they’re at the school. So there is an adult, but at least the kids are walking and learning how to behave on neighbourhood streets. The walking school bus can be a transition so that eventually the kids will be walking on their own. The positive is that there is an adult with the kids and they are getting some exercise before they have to sit still in class. However, they are not learning to get places on their own which is why I suggest this be a transition move, not permanent.



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