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PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2007 8:45 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 03, 2006 9:11 pm
Posts: 37
Location: Bournemouth
My daughter is due to start a secondary school near us in Sept. She will get the school bus. However, school finishes at 2.40pm and she will be home by 3.00pm - that's even earlier than junior school!

What do you do if both parents work all day? At the moment I pay for both my children to go to After School Club for the 2 days I work all day and manage to leave work early other days. I don't think my employers would be sympathetic to another change of hours. I have never used a childminder. I cannot ask any relatives to pick her up. Even if she attended an After School Club, it would only last an hour and she would be home by 4.00pm. She could stay in the library at school, but again, only for an extra hour - too early for me to pick up after work.

Why isn't there any formal After School care for children at secondary school? What do parents do if both work full time?

Those of you who have children already at secondary school - what do you do if you work all day? What age do you think is suitable to let your children go home on their own to an empty house? I know there is no official legislation on this but would Social Services get involved if they knew your child was left alone in the house at age 11? I have read somewhere that the test is whether your child could cope in an emergency. I don't feel that stage has been reached yet.

Any experience from working parents with secondary age children would be appreciated.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2007 10:22 pm 
2.40 does seem unusually early for a secondary school to finish... Mine had a 40 minute walk home from school and had their own keys from age 11 or so: I don't think that's too young to come in, watch an hour's escapist TV and make a jam sandwich to keep them going. However I haven't worked full time every day the longer hours you describe - it's usually been a case of various members of the family arriving in batches anywhere between 3 and 7! With walking home they tend to take a very long time about it (stopping at Tesco on the way, then at various friends houses...). Is there a friendly neighbour you/ she could call on in an emergency?
If you want more formal arrangements it might be worth seeing if there is a school friend she can go home to for tea once or twice a week - there may then also be sport/ music activities she wants to do after school on some nights anyway. Or perhaps there is an older (Yr 10 or 11) pupil on the same bus that would like to earn some extra cash for after-school childminding - I have known this be a useful once-a-week job for a friend's daughter.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2007 12:31 pm 
I found that my daughter did not need (or most important want) looking after when she came home from school. She is now in Year 8 but from the first day in Year 7 has come home on the bus and let herself into the house. She is in the house alone for about 2.5 hours. In that time, she gets a snack and does her homework, which usually takes the full 2.5 hours to complete. There are several neighbours who know she does this and are there for her if she needs help. I think she has thrived on the independence. Most of her school friends are in the same boat too.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2007 1:11 pm 
My child hated coming home to an empty house but would not continue at the childminder's. She wouldn't go to my neighbour's house down the road either. We have a large family and I was paying a fortune for child care for one and after school care for three. I gave up work and now am much better off working from home for my own business. The children, my husband and myself are much happier. This might not be an option for you. Your child might be very happy at home and enjoy the independence. Look at all available options.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2007 1:45 pm 
I wish my daughter (also Yr 8) was sensible enough to get all her homework/ piano / violin practice done as soon as she gets in! My eldest son (now at university) soon realised that the sooner he got it out the way, the sooner he'd be free to go outside & play football. Don't think he's as efficient with university deadlines though......


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2007 4:03 pm 
Quote:
What do you do if both parents work all day?


I'm usually home by 4pm but my child is also home from school by 3pm unless he stays for after school clubs - which I encourage as much as possible. The summer before he started secondary we gave him lessons in unlocking the house, unsetting the alarm, what to do in an emergency etc. He is now in year 8 and I wonder why I ever worried. He knows he can contact me on my mobile if there is a problem and he knows who else to contact if necessary. Independence comes to them very quickly once they have left primary.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2007 10:07 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 03, 2006 9:11 pm
Posts: 37
Location: Bournemouth
Many thanks for all your replies and sharing your experiences. It looks like I may be worrying unnecessarily. Thanks for your practical suggestions on preparing my child for coming home on their own. I do leave her on her own for short bursts of time when I pick up my other daughter from nearby activities, but I haven't left her for 2.5 hours, which is what in effect it would be before either one of us got home on those 2 days. But Guest hasn't had a problem with that from day one of Year 7. I'm finding it hard to envisage what my daughter will be like when she is at secondary school.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2007 11:01 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2007 12:18 am
Posts: 4083
Dark Autumn nights are a bit scary,when clocks go back and it's 6.pm and the house has too many dark corners. Kiddo used to ring me a couple of times checking when I'll be home...just checking...he always texted me when he got in and then got on with his HW/snack.Then I felt better.

He did not answer doorbell at all.No visitors arranged so as not to confuse kiddo. It's hard to turn away a stranger at the door (you don't know how they can con you) so better to look as if no one's home. Lights on at back of house and kiddo tried to stay in back rooms doing work/music practice.

He did not answer phone ..let answer phone pick up. get telesales people sometimes and it leaves phone free for me or dad to call in to check.Kiddo's own mobile on as well as back up.

Show how to operate electrical things correctly and safely..only allowed to use microwave to heat up dinner if I'm very late. One of my nephews nearly burnt down his house making an omelette.Parents came home to charred kitchen and fire brigade!!

No showers/Baths till someone gets in...in case accidental slip in bathroom and get knocked out cold on floor.Kiddo used to laugh that I was overcautious, but he still checks if 'it's alright to take my shower now?'


Holidays, we practised a lot of road crossings, together and finally on his own.horrible when he was on the other side of a main road(not near jucntion) trying to cross back to me..

door opening with keys has been mentioned but kiddo also taught to look around as nearing house to make sure noboby suspicious is watching him enter the house or near enough to barge in!
How terrible that sounds but he was only little then! You can't help but worry especially if it's something they are not used to!

2 years on, Kiddo is asking when I'm going out? The longer I'm gone, it seems the better!


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2007 11:23 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 09, 2007 9:29 pm
Posts: 2049
Location: Wirral
Hi there,
There is no legal age as to when a child can be left alone (obviously the term neglect can be used if a child is young, but this isn’t the case at 11) and it really is up to the individual parent when they feel their child is mature enough to handle the responsibility. You as their parent are the only people who can make that call as you know your child best.
Take out of the equation social services they haven't even got the man power to provide for children who really do need there help.
In this day and age when both parent's have to work you won’t be the first and definitely won't be the last to allow a 11 year old to come home alone after school for a couple of hours till you return from work.
We stepped it up gradually nipping out to the corner shop (10 mins), then further a field to a supermarket for a weekly shop (1hr) and so on.
As long as you and your child feels comfortable with whatever arrangements you have made you can't go to wrong.

Hope everything works out for you.

AM

P.s Someone once told me "Good mother's are the one's who worry".
I'm sure you will do what is right for your child as you have put much thought into it.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2007 8:34 am 
Excellent advice from LBMWS. I started leaving my son alone just to pick up my daughter from clubs. TV or radio can stop the house from feeling too cold although you don't want them watching TV for 3 hours!
Definitely no answering the door.


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