It’ll be a strange Guy Fawke’s night tonight won’t it. None of the usual gatherings around a bonfire, watching a sky full of fireworks. But for us, we will have something to remember, a bit of a milestone moment as my son takes the next step to independence – walking home from school without me. Although not the whole way, just yet.
My son is now in Year Six and we are lucky to actually live within a 5-minute walk from the school. In a ‘normal’ world we really wouldn’t need to even worry about traffic on his walk to school but our route has changed since Coronavirus hit. He now no longer enters school through the main entrance, and actually I’m really thankful for that in the current situation. It’s not ideal for any form of social distancing and is now full of people and cars at the end of the day.
My son now enters the school from the rear entrance so from September we’ve walked a different way to school and it’s also meant that we’ve met up with his best friend and his Mum along the way. It really helped both boys to have each other as they walked into school after so many months away from that environment.
But it wasn’t long before they were both asking when they’d be able to walk to and from school by themselves. It’s a conversation we had during Year Five and we’d told the boys that we’d sort it out early on in Year Six as we prepare them for the next step to independence – walking home from school ahead of them starting Secondary School in 2021.
Things aren’t quite as we’d envisaged this time last year, and both I and my friend have decided that at the moment we’d prefer to still walk the boys to school and wait with them until the gates are open. We’ve seen too many non-class bubble kids getting too close to each other and think it’s safer for both boys for us to still be with then at that point. But from today we won’t be waiting for them at the school gate at the end of the day. We’ve requested that the boys be released from school together and that they will walk to my son’s best friends house where I will be waiting outside, to walk the rest of the way home together. Then over time, I will look at him walking the rest of the way by himself. He needs to prove that his road safety skills have improved first though as he now needs to cross the main roadway that cars use to get to school, and I mentioned earlier, this is now a bottleneck area for parents and children alike. It’s not an ideal crossing point really, but it is what it is. We will tackle this part of the journey in time.
But for today my son is just excited about taking the next step to independence – walking home from school, even if it’s only halfway. It’s a start. I think he’s far readier for this than I am, but I know it has to come. It’s a little like the time when the hand holding on the walk to school stopped. You just have to accept that it comes to all of us and it’s all part of preparing your child to be their own person out in the big wide world. It doesn’t mean that I won’t be mightily relieved to see him and his friend round the corner to his friend’s house later today.