Keep checking in

You've worked hard to prepare your child for the milestone of being home alone. Now you want to be sure your home-alone routine is working for all of you. You will need to keep checking in with your child to talk about how the plan is going. Does your child feel comfortable and secure during her time home alone Is winter harder for her, when it gets dark earlier What can you do to make those days easier Remember that being home alone may not work for all children. If your child tries it and...

Deciding whether your child is ready

Just as you would never let your child jump off a diving board until he knows how to swim, you want to provide your child with the safest experience possible before leaving him home alone. There is a process behind preparing a child for this independent new phase. You want to be sure your child is mature enough to handle an emergency. And that he feels comfortable being left alone. Some of these are skills that must be practiced and developed over time. You also want to be certain there is an...

Be sure your child knows where and how to reach you or another adult at all times

Never leave home without following this fundamental rule. Post important phone numbers in a visible place near the phone. Before you walk out the door, give your child detailed written instructions about where you will be, how long you will be gone, a phone number where you can be reached, and the number of a nearby friend or neighbor your child can call for help. Do this whether you are leaving for ten minutes or for several hours. It might help to fill out the card at the back of this booklet...

Planning your childs homealone day

For your home-alone plan to work, you and your child will need to set up a clear plan for how your child's day will be spent. You want to strike a balance between giving your child a reasonable degree of freedom and setting limits. You will want to talk about privileges and responsibilities, play time and work time. You will also need to go over ground rules and expectations. Remember that most children need a lot of help and guidance learning to structure their free time. The more clear and...