After-school care is a hot topic right now. Now that school has started, parents are asking what they should do with their kids until they get off after work ends. Sometimes this can be an hour, and other times it could be four or five. However, this topic isn’t as simple as people would first think.
Laws, income, and family availability all impact what a parent can choose from in regards to their kid. This can leave many parents asking, “is it okay if I leave my kid at home alone for a few hours?” In general, the answer will be “how old are they?”
Age is a Determining Factor
While only three states in the US have written laws about age and leaving children at home, the National SAFEKIDS Campaign recommends that no child under the age of 12 be left at home alone. Idaho specifically does not have any laws about leaving children alone at home, though it is suggested to follow the 12-year-old recommendation.
The factor that affects Idaho children most is their parent’s perception of their mental growth. Children that are left at home alone should be of sound mind with the ability to follow directions, and problem solves when the parent is not around. They should know not to answer the door or phone as well as how to prepare basic meals. If a child can do all of these things, they can be left at home alone for at least a few hours safely.
An Idea of Age Guidelines
Georgia is a state that doesn’t have laws but does have recommendations. Using their guidelines is a great way to start with a base and work from there based on the individual needs of the child.
Alternatives to Leaving Kids at Home
If you don’t think your child is ready to be left at home, then there are options that you can take part in, first, after school care. After school sessions, like those offered at Bodies in Motion, are perfect for keeping your kids watched. Teachers and guides will ensure that they eat, do their homework, and get some activities and socialization in.
On the other hand, if you have family close, such as a grandparent, they might be able to watch your, child, until you get off from work. This can be another way to make sure that your kid is eating, doing homework, and staying active. However, keep in mind your parent’s situation. If you have an active and hyper child, they might not be able to keep up.
Lastly, if you have older children in high school or college, you might be able to convince them to help a few times a week. This might take cash, but it will ultimately prove to be the simplest option as you will know where both children are when you come home in the afternoon. It’s best if your older child has a cellphone as well as the ability to drive in case something goes wrong.