Canadian Parenting and Child Care Community

Age Groups => Schoolage => Topic started by: spud on January 07, 2008, 09:39:11 AM

Title: age to leave alone
Post by: spud on January 07, 2008, 09:39:11 AM
HI all, I am wondering at what age do schoolagers generally get left alone for short periods of times? I have done some research on this topic and have found that parental discretion is often the final deciding factor for older schoolagers...but I am wondering what members here think.  I am thinking I would drop my ages 9 and 11 daughters off with friends to go skating for an hour at the rec centre and I am wondering how others feel about this same topic.  Thanks for your responses.
Title: Re: age to leave alone
Post by: Laura on January 07, 2008, 04:15:28 PM
Hi Spud,

If you let me know where you are located, I may be able to find you some information.  Unfortunately, each province has its own set of rules on day care issues, so I cannot provide you with a concrete answer without knowing where you are located. (SORRY  :( )

Title: Re: age to leave alone
Post by: spud on January 07, 2008, 05:44:20 PM
I wonder what the rules are province to province..and how people feel about this issue on an individual level as it appears to be discretion being the main factor here in Canada. My 11 yr old daughter attended the babysitting course and was told she could babysit as long as parents felt she was responsible and trustworthy...for which she is...I do believe kids are unique and one 11 yr old might be very much able to be left alone while some 13 yr olds still cant handle that responsibility...this question is intended to explore peoples comfort levels as well as differing laws within canada...if we can :)
Title: Re: age to leave alone
Post by: spud on January 07, 2008, 05:47:58 PM
I also wonder if parents would drop their children off skating or something and then go to Tim Hortons for a coffee and then return ...would people let their kids go to the park at this age for an hour?
Title: Re: age to leave alone
Post by: spud on January 07, 2008, 06:16:39 PM
Ok here is some info..I also found lots that say parental discretion:
but what about going to the park, etc unsupervised for an hour..these examples are more for being left HOME alone...

Infant - 9 years
A child of this age should not be left unsupervised at any time of the day or night. A competent caregiver should be on the same premises as the children.

10 -12 years
Short periods of indirect supervision of 1-2 hours may be acceptable for this age range. These short periods of indirect supervision may be provided by an adult in the next house or apartment-- if the adult is aware of the parents' absence, and agrees to look in on the child during specified periods of time.

Please note that indirect supervision via telephone contact is generally unacceptable for this age range.

13 - 14 years
Longer periods of indirect supervision (2 - 5 hours) are acceptable for this age range. An adult/babysitter should be available by telephone to the children in case of an emergency, or if the child requires assistance.

15 -16 years
At this age, the child should be able to be left alone for a full day. The parent should be readily available by telephone to the child in case of an emergency.

Title: Re: age to leave alone
Post by: CareDC on January 07, 2008, 06:58:44 PM
Interesting information, Spud. Where did you find it?
Title: Re: age to leave alone
Post by: CareDC on January 07, 2008, 07:04:49 PM
Here is a good link that may help you. http://www.safety-council.org/info/child/alone.html
 (http://www.safety-council.org/info/child/alone.html).

"Parents should not consider letting a child stay at home alone before age 10 - and then only if the child is mature enough, only for an hour or two at most, and only if there's a responsible adult nearby to help out if needed. Age alone does not determine whether or not a child is capable of looking after himself or herself properly. For example, unsupervised teens and pre-teens can sometimes get into more trouble than younger children."

This is quoted directly from their site
Title: Re: age to leave alone
Post by: spud on January 07, 2008, 07:55:28 PM
http://www.settlement.org/sys/faqs_detail.asp?faq_id=4000679

this is the link I found... I also found some other places that keep saying leavign kids home alone ....but what about going to the park etc?
Title: Re: age to leave alone
Post by: spud on January 07, 2008, 08:26:01 PM
I found a really good document, that could be printed and used in private home daycare regarding this exact issue. It is a good document to have families fill in to help caregivers decide how much indirect supervision they will be given...
http://www.eec.state.ma.us/docs/FCCIndirectSupervision.pdf
check it out.
Title: Re: age to leave alone
Post by: spud on January 07, 2008, 08:52:22 PM
Ok Im off to bed now, but I searched family and children services and found this:


What Does "Supervised" Mean?

Supervised means that the caregiver can see the child and is close enough to protect the child from harm.

Children 0 to Four Years Old

Children in this age group must be supervised at all times!

Children Five to Seven Years Old

Children in this age group may play unsupervised for up to 30 minutes when a parent (or age-appropriate caregiver) is at home and can check-in regularly with the child or is able to see the child. Many children in this age group can be taught to walk to school by themselves, however, it is preferred that children in Kindergarten and Grades one and two are accompanied by a caregiver when walking to school or waiting for the school bus.

Children Eight to Nine Years Old

Children in this age group should not be left alone before or after school. When a parent (or age-appropriate caregiver) is at home, children aged eight to nine may play unsupervised in the immediate neighbourhood for up to one hour after the conditions listed below have been taken into consideration. There should not be a pattern of leaving a child unsupervised.

-the child knows general rules for safety
-the child knows how to react in case of fire, power outage and other emergencies
- the safety of the external and internal environment has been assessed
-the developmental age and abilities of the child have been considered
-the child is generally cooperative and can be depended on to follow rules

Ten to Eleven Years Old

Children in this age group may be occasionally left alone at home for up to one to two hours (eg. after school 3:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m.), provided they have no fear or anxiety staying home alone and the child's level of maturity matches this arrangement. Children in this age group should not be home alone for any period of time during overnight hours or be expected to take care of younger siblings or friends. In order to ensure a childs' safety, parents should teach them general safety rules which should include the following:

-how to react in case of a fire, power outage and other emergencies
-how to use the telephone and how to answer the telephone or door (and know the dangers of each)
-whom to contact in an emergency
-where to find emergency and contact numbers (both should be posted by the phone)
-where emergency supplies, like a flashlight and first aid kit, are kept and how to use them
-how to use a house key responsibly
-how to set limits with friends
-where to play, with whom and for how long

Children Twelve & Older

It is recommended that children in this age group are not left alone overnight. Children in this age group are often able to babysit younger children. They should be able to demonstrate that they can follow safety rules. A babysitter who has a babysitting certificate has demonstrated a commitment to take care of younger children and has learned skills that help keep children safe.

-a 12 or 13 year old babysitter should not be left in charge of more than two children; -should not be responsible for cooking, supervising swimming of or the bathing of children; must have zero to five minutes access to consultation with a parent or a responsible adult; and it is generally preferred/ recommended that they do not babysit after midnight or for periods longer than four hours per day
-a sitter's number one priority should be looking after the children NOT entertaining friends, listening to music, etc...
-it's the job of the parent(s) to hire a sitter to look after their children adequately

What does the CFSA say about leaving children unattended?
Sec. 79(3)--"No person having charge of a child less than 16 years of age shall leave the child without making provision for his or her supervision and care that is reasonable in the circumstances."

Sec. 79(4)-- "Where a person is charged with contravening Subsection (3) and the child is less than ten years of age, the onus of establishing that the person made provision for the child's supervision and care that was reasonable in the circumstances rests with the person."

Parents Are Ultimately Responsible For Their children's safety!

Additional Safety Tips
-never leave a child alone in a car
-never leave a child home alone
-never leave a child alone with pets (pets can be unpredictable)
-never leave a child near water (bathtub, pool, hot tub, river...)
-never leave matches, lighters, ashtrays, candles, and other fire hazards within the reach of a child

http://www.facswaterloo.org/html/HelpParentsSupervision.html
Title: Re: age to leave alone
Post by: spud on January 07, 2008, 09:08:53 PM
http://au.answers.yahoo.com/answers2/frontend.php/question?qid=20071007231528AAukVyv

wow, now theres a few opinions,  :-\

how about this one: "Parents are too high strung these day. Yes, things can happen but it's always been that way even in the 50s. We see obese children daily in the US. Why? Because they aren't allowed to go out unless mum and dad are there so they have minimal exercise. Let kids be kids.

"Dr. Gene Abel estimates that between 1% and 5% of our population molest children" -CNN Specials Transcript #454-Thieves of Childhood.

While that is a large percent you have to realize that means [litterally] between 95% and 99% of our population will not molest children.

I stronly believe that rather then protecting our children by not letting them well be children we are hindering their ability to do things. Instead of getting out we are living over this fear that someone can hurt our child. Sure, they can. Someone can hurt your child on the school bus, on the way to school, in the mall, basically anywhere. You just have to be smart and teach the children how to react."
Title: Re: age to leave alone
Post by: CareDC on January 07, 2008, 10:48:34 PM
You are right. Chances of our kids being molested on the street or in the park are very small. Same goes when it comes to predators. There are neighbourhoods that are very save. Although chances of something terribly bad happening to your child are small, no parent wants to be a part of that small statistic.

We live in the information age and all the bad news gets played on TV all the time. That didn't exist before TV was invented. Aside from your own community you did know much about what's happening in another city, for example. It's the exposure that has preconditioned us to look at the world a certain way.
Title: Re: age to leave alone
Post by: Laura on January 10, 2008, 09:26:18 AM
I wonder what the rules are province to province..and how people feel about this issue on an individual level as it appears to be discretion being the main factor here in Canada. My 11 yr old daughter attended the babysitting course and was told she could babysit as long as parents felt she was responsible and trustworthy...for which she is...I do believe kids are unique and one 11 yr old might be very much able to be left alone while some 13 yr olds still cant handle that responsibility...this question is intended to explore peoples comfort levels as well as differing laws within canada...if we can :)

Just like ratios vary from province to province, so do many rules and regulations, although similar yet different. The main purpose of these rules and regulations is to prevent children from being unsupervised.  The ownice of responsibility falls on the parents shoulders.  I happen to agree with you in regards to the maturity level of children as each child is different, although i don't feel too comfortable about leaving kids unsupervised. 
Title: Re: age to leave alone
Post by: stayathomemum on January 17, 2008, 02:02:47 AM
hi, thank you for posting all of these great sites on leaving children alone at home for short periods.  I believe all kids mature differently and it depends on each child.  I personally am very, very cautious on leaving ANY child alone, even if its in the next room!! :.
Title: Re: age to leave alone
Post by: CareDC on January 17, 2008, 02:18:13 AM
On one hand spud is right. Kids need time alone. One the other hand, there is always that "what if something happens" factor on the back of your mind. Some parents can let go alot easier then others. This is turning to be a nice thread. What we all have to realise though is that we have laws in this country. So, this question of when to let go carries legal implications.
Title: Re: age to leave alone
Post by: spud on January 17, 2008, 12:34:00 PM
I think parents are ultimatly the best people to decide when their child is ready to start experiencing independance.  Trust is a big factor.  Once children are over the age of 6/7 they no longer legally require "direct supervision", they can play in the basement or in the backyard and have a parent check in periodically..(for me its every 10-15 minutes and only when I know they are engaged in appropriate activities).  When my children reached age 9 or 10 I found my kids were ready to go to activities within the community like the library and were able to behave well enough and follow the expectations in library to find a book and Ill come back for them in a half an hour.  The staff know the kids and I m glad they were exposed to a healthy place like the library, (its a safer place than home even sometimes!) I know some of my old daycare kids who grew out of my place still go there as teenagers and feel comfortable to go there as a result of their earlier experiences.  When my kids were 10 and 11 or so I was able to leave them at the swimming pool for the public swim and then come back for them at the end..I feel comfortable with that..and so did my daycare families that I cared for with children that age.  These experiences exposed children to independance in safe environment with staff around to help if necessary.  It gave them early practice so now instead of standing around drinking at the parks and throwing snowballs at cars they are out skating at the rink and swimming or checking out whats going on at the library..now that worked for me..but some kids are nt that mature and its really up to parents how much and when they are going to let go or expose kids...i think its best to expose them to healthy outlets within the community instead of letting them just stay at home alone. I d rather her go to the library and finish her homework after school than be home alone...im sure the communities for which people live will play a major factor in parents decisions here also.  Theres my thought for the day :)
Title: Re: age to leave alone
Post by: Mhairi on January 18, 2008, 10:59:44 AM
I agree with Spud and have actually spoken with my local police department regarding the legal age to allow children to be on there own and was told..as long as the child is mature and responsible..it is the parents judgement. They have no actual age limit..obviously common sense on the parents or guardians end. There is no reason at all not to allow a 9 year old or over..who is mature enough to know right from wrong and what to do in an emergency..to have some freedom to do things like age appropriate activities. If you are not the parent but the child is in your care and you feel the child is ready for this..than cover it with the child's parents and try to come to an agreement..of course, final decision falls on the parents and the other thing would be to cover yourself as the childcare provider. I see nothing wrong with children having independance and learning to fend for themselves in a positive enviroment with structure.
Title: Re: age to leave alone
Post by: spud on January 22, 2008, 02:33:46 PM
Thanks for your comment Mhairi..I agree its important to discuss these things with parents before care commences so that it is completely clear what kind of and how much direct supervision school age parents expect from the provider.  I have found some (mainly new families) are very protective at first..but once they see how safe the environments that we go to are..they tend to revise their initial agreement...especially by age 10. Then there are the parents with really mature responsible kids at age 8..and they're happy their children get to have some freedom .. and positive experiences within the community.  In fact I still have some kids that come that are over the age of 12 because they actually have fun here, and their parents know they have me watching over them, but they are allowed appropriate freedom, so its ultimate..and safe...I have also learned that some kids....just arent going to be responsible..or simply dont know how or do not want to behave in public.. and they stay within sight at all times. 

Parents know their kids, and parents have their own feelings about what they are comfortable with..each of the unique differences in each child / family need to be respected and addressed appropriatly by the childcare provider.  This can sometimes be a challenge when trying to meet all the needs within the group..so the provider also needs to make decisions that are safe and good for the group as a whole, continuing to be able to supervise effectively all children in her care...
Title: Re: age to leave alone
Post by: Laura on January 22, 2008, 03:25:27 PM
Haven't things changed dramatically over the past several years.  I remember being able to ride my bike or go for a walk with friends and siblings without our parents fearing about our whereabouts. Now with all the predators and likewise you just can't take the chance.  Even if it is parent discretion.
Title: Re: age to leave alone
Post by: spud on January 22, 2008, 04:53:29 PM
Most agreeable.  If I lived in some communities within Canada/Ontario. I would definatly have a different approach...and may not offer the same choices...but I do live in a small town where we typically know everyone.  I think it really depends on where you are too.  If I lived in Toronto or Ottawa or Hamilton, London for example...not a chance baby...
Yes predators are everywhere, even in small towns, but reasonable discretion should be practiced...Children need to feel trusted and alloud small steps to freedom, after all, grade 9 comes fast...what do they do then if they arent experienced enough to survive teenage years! We want our youth to be able to make good decisions for themselves..and pick good things to do with their time...so hopefully...introducing them to appropriate activities and leaving them periodically to play games and proving their trustworthy, then they will feel good about being mature and will be good during adolescents...ah the teenage years...now thats another story !
Title: Re: age to leave alone
Post by: CareDC on January 22, 2008, 09:56:22 PM
Ah.....well...that explains everything. The differences between small communities and large metropolises like Toronto are perhaps worth considering during these discussions. The chances of your child being harmed decrease significantly when you live in small towns. Traffic is hardly worth mentioning. Issues with drugs and minimised and so forth. When it comes to child safety in a community, location truly matters!
Title: Re: age to leave alone
Post by: spud on January 25, 2008, 02:03:20 PM
IT sure does...I had to think for a moment, why wouldnt I let my child go to the park or the pool or something...well a big city came to mind..I have to remember not everyone lives in the boonies lol
I still wonder at what age people generally let their kids go for a walk to the park or a long bike ride unsupervised..as a child (and once again in the boon docks) I used to ride to the next county to see a friend of mine..but I still cant imagine doing that today...maybe a local ride and timed...perhaps to the park for one hour flat...