Home Alone: Is Your Kid Ready?

Learn about the five characteristics of children who are ready to be at home on their own.

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Ready for Responsibility?

About one-third of all school age children in the U.S., for at least part of the week, arrive at an empty house or apartment after school. Make sure your young one is ready for this responsibility. Here are 5 essential skills your child should know.

1. Your Child Knows How to Care For Herself

Not easily excited by the unexpected. Naturally acts calm. Readily discusses feelings with parents and friends. Resists pressure from friends. Takes responsibility for mistakes.

2. Your Child Can Rattle Off Contact Information

Can clearly state and spell her full name, address and telephone number. Can easily say her parents' names, employers, addresses of work places, and work telephone numbers.

3. Your Child is Familiar with Safety Skills

Knows how to dial 911 and give information. Can tell you what to do in case of a fire. Knows what to do if she is being followed. Knows not to enter home if it looks suspicious, and knows of an alternate place to go. Does not play alone outside when parents are not home.

4. Your Child Has Met Maturity Milestones

Easily follows directions. Readily takes on responsibility. Completes tasks without needing reminders. Actively problem solves and works through conflicts. Interacts well with others and forms friendships with peers.

5. Your Child Is Interested in Exploring His Interests

Encourage your child to get involved in after school programs and activities that allow her to explore interests: Play sports with a team or dance with a class. Join the local gym. Take piano lessons. Participate in extracurricular activities for singing, art, ballet, band, orchestra or drama. Volunteer or serve the community with service groups. Attend after school homework clubs to receive tutoring and study help.

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