Staying at Home Alone after School
Gauge your child's readiness for staying home on his own.
Maturity levels vary widely, so some kids are ready to stay home alone earlier than others.
My daughter has just turned 11 years old and is in 5th grade. She has ADHD, which is treated with medication. At what age do you think children are capable and responsible enough to care for themselves for about 1½ hours after school alone?
Ask yourself the following questions to determine whether your daughter is ready:
• Is your neighborhood safe and your home well protected?
• Are there other siblings at home? Are you certain that they will not argue?
• Does your daughter express feelings of anxiety about being alone?
• Is the after-school time adequately structured, with a routine such as snack, homework, chores, and then TV?
• Is your daughter mature enough to use kitchen appliances safely?
• Are all emergency numbers easily accessible?
In some states there are laws prohibiting children under 10 to remain alone without caregivers. The age of the child is less important than the degree of maturity. I personally do not think that children under the age of 13 should be left unsupervised. Even then, it depends upon the degree of trust you have with their children.
You mention that your daughter has ADHD and that she takes medication. I believe it would be asking a great deal of her to come home to an unsupervised setting. There are many after-school programs and clubs available that specialize in sports, music, arts, or homework help, among others. Some parents share in the task of being on hand after school for a group of children. You may want to consider options like these for your child for at least the next two years.