As a kid I walked to school from the age of five and although I didn’t always love it (especially in bad weather) it definitely kept me active and gave me some compulsory exercise everyday.
Walking to school is not possible for everyone. Many adults can’t walk with their children for physical or practical reasons … For many the school is just too far away. But there are also many of us who just take the convenient option and we could consider walking sometimes or even everyday.
We recently asked our School Mums and here are some of the reasons that they think walking their kids to school is a great idea:
1. It promotes regular physical activity
Walking to the local school encourages our children to consider that as a mode of transport and not assume that every trip needs to be taken in a car. I guess riding to school would be very similar and it gives us some regular exercise most days.
Australians struggle with doing regular exercise and as a population we are far too overweight which leads to direct health problems. Walking to school won’t cure that but it does encourage us to be more mobile and begins to form habits that will last into adulthood.
Tip: if you live too far from your school, you could still walk to the public transport or even park the car a kilometre from the school and walk from there. If you live too close to the school, you might even consider a detour or taking the scenic route to get a little bit more exercise.
2. A chance to chat
This was by far the #1 benefit our mums loved! Many mums commented that they loved the extra time to wander along with nothing else to do but chat to their kids on the way to school. It could be a great chance to talk through the day and prepare the mentally for any challenges ahead … Or on the way home it’s a great debrief time.
You can ask some open questions such as “What are you looking forward to today?” Or “Where there any things you didn’t like about today?” to get a conversation going.
3. You don’t have to find a park
Traffic around schools is not only dangerous but it’s really annoying and finding a park can be a stress for many parents. Sometimes you can’t find a legal park, or leave the car very long in a drop-off zone … Walking reduces congestion for everyone and could make your start to the day a little easier.
4. Its cheaper
Most people don’t drive far to school so walking doesn’t save a lot of money but it’s still something. There have been times in my life where the second car is almost exclusively used for taking children to school back. You may not be able to do without a car, but walking will still reduce the costs slightly.
5. Better for the environment
Similarly there is some benefit to the environment and the community by having less vehicles on the road especially as school traffic contributes to peak hour traffic and slows down many roads. Teaching our children that walking is a viable way of getting around will also have long-term impact on the environment as they opt for human power and public transport over private cars.
6. Connecting with other parents
This is not exclusively a benefit of walking but most people who walk tend to go all the way into the school grounds as opposed to staying in the car park or pickup area and this allows you to meet and interact with other parents at the school.
7. Teaching children safety lessons
Walking to school has its own challenges for safety and so this is a great chance for you to teach children basic skills from how to interact with the public through to crossing roads and dealing with traffic. It is recommended that children up to 10 years old hold an adult’s hand when crossing the road.
This cartoon has some great examples of children’s development and what we need to be aware of.
There’s so much!!! The convenience of being able to work is a huge plus for me, we rely on nothing but our legs! The environmental benefits as well as health benefits. The chats we all have seem to be fuller than the car chats and obviously can take a little longer. As well as that 10 minutes of walk alone once I’ve dropped them off or about to Pick them up, no distractions, just me and some fresh air!!
School Mum Francesca
Walk Safely to School Day
Walk Safely to School Day (WSTSD) is an annual, national event when all Primary School children will be encouraged to walk and commute safely to school. It is a Community Event seeking to promote Road Safety, Health, Public Transport and the Environment.
For more information and to get involved check out http://www.walk.com.au/wstsd/