"At Home Alone - A Parents Guide"
Your 10 year old comes home from school at three and takes care of himself - gets a snack, talks on the phone, does homework, watches TV - until you get home at six.
He's too old for day care, but far from grown up. You worry, but what can you do?
Working parents - and that's the majority of American families today - share the anxiety, frustration, and even fear involved in leaving children "on their own" when school lets out, child care arrangements with neighbors and relatives break down, or there simply aren't any alternatives.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
• Make sure your children are ready to care for themselves.
• Teach them basic safety rules.
• Know where your kids are, what they are doing, and who they are with.
Are they ready? Can your children......
• Be trusted to go straight home after school?
• Easily use the telephone, locks, and kitchen appliances?
• Follow rules and instructions well?
• Handle unexpected situations without panicking?
• Stay alone without being afraid?
Talk it over with them, and listen to their worries and ideas. Work out rules on having friends over, household chores, homework, and television. Remember, staying at home alone can build a child's self-esteem, sense of responsibility, and practical skills.
Teach Your "Home Alone" Children
• How to call 9-1-1 or your area's emergency number, or call the operator.
• How to give directions to your home in case of an emergency.
• To check in with you or a neighbor immediately after arriving home.
• To never accept gifts or rides from people they don't know well.
• To never let anyone into the home without asking your permission.
• To never let a caller at the door or on the phone know that they're alone (say "Mom can't come to the phone right now")
• To carry a house key with them in a safe place (inside a shirt pocket or sock) - don't leave it under a mat or on a ledge.
• How to escape in case of a fire.
• To not go into an empty house or apartment if things don't look right - a broken window, ripped screen or opened door.
• To let you know about anything that frightens them or makes them feel uncomfortable.
KEEP THESE IMPORTANT NUMBERS NEAR THE PHONE
Mom or Dad's work:_______________________________________
Family Friend who lives or works nearby:________________________
Poison Control Center:______________________________________
Emergency Help: DIAL 9-1-1 or OPERATOR
A Word About Curiosity........
Are there things you don't want your children to get into? Take the time to talk to them about the deadly consequences of guns, medicines, power tools, alcohol, cleaning products... Make sure your keep these items in a secure place out of sight and locked up.
Are they ready? Can your children......
• Work with schools, religious institutions, libraries, recreational and community centers, and local youth organizations to create programs that give children ages 10 and older a place to go and something to do after school - a "homework" haven, sports, craft classes, tutoring. Or what about a community improvement project that young people can design and carry out?
• Ask your workplace to sponsor a Survival Skills class for employees' children. Kick it off with a parent-child breakfast or luncheon.
• Does your community have a crisis hotline service? Ask it to experiment with a "warmline" that latchkey kids can call for help with homework or cooking, or just to talk.
• Work with the phone company to distribute 9-1-1 cards with space for a child to write directions to his or her home and parents' work numbers.
• Join (or start) a McGruff House* or other block parent program in your community to offer children help in emergencies or frightening situations.
*McGruff House is a reliable source of help for children in emergency or frightening situations. Volunteers must meet specific standards, including a law enforcement records check. Programs are established locally as a partnership among law enforcement, schools, and community organizations. For information, call 801-486-8768.