Not to date myself, but back in my day I walked to school every day (even in the winter, and I didn’t freeze) and so did most of my peers. We weren’t trying to be healthy, it’s just what everyone did. Some parents may have concerns about letting their children walk to school. Read the options below that will help you and your child feel more confident and safe on their walk or bike ride.
Active commuting is using your own steam for transportation. It can be as simple as walking, efficient like cycling, or unique like rollerblading! There are so many benefits to active commuting, like:
- Avoiding the morning rush to get everyone in the car and the chaotic traffic on the drive to school.
- No idling by the school when dropping off and picking up kids.
- Kids get a chance to do their minimum of 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity.
- Being active benefits school grades (yup more time moving is good for the brain).
If you’re new to active commuting, a little planning is key in making the experience more enjoyable. Start by teaching your kids street smarts then do a few practice runs with them to learn the route to school, locate hazards and safely cross streets. Now, before school starts, is the perfect time to plan and practise. Here are a few ways to approach biking or walking to school:
- Walking School Bus/Bicycle Train: A volunteer parent or older sibling leads children from their neighbourhood to school by walking or on bikes, stopping from house to house along the way like a bus. There can be a rotation of volounteers and pre-set times at which the bike bus arrives at the various houses. This can also be done by walking.
- Buddy-Up: Two kids from the same neighbourhood (could be bothers/sisters) bike, blade, board or walk to school together. I actually did something similar to this as a kid. I’d call up my buddy in the morning to say I’m leaving and we’d meet halfway to school and ride or walk the rest of the way together.
- Join them: Walk or bike partially or fully to school with your child. Then continue on to work, return home, or continue on for a workout since you’re already out.
What if you live too far away from school to walk or bike?
In some cases you may live geographically too far from the school for kids to walk or bike, but there are some options:
- Drive, drop and walk: if you usually drive your kids to school and then head to work, consider dropping your kids off a few blocks away from school and have them walk the rest of the way.
- Walk and bus: if kids will be taking the bus to school, have them walk to and from the bus stop. Read more ideas on active transportation using buses.
Like all parents, you want your children to be healthy, responsible and happy. Active commuting to school can be safe and benefit both physical and mental health. This fall, let your kids walk or bike to school!