When is it ok to drop your child at the school gate?
It seems like kids these days hit a new milestone every week. With school about to start again for another year, it raises a serious milestone question: When is your child old enough to be dropped at the school gate?
This is a question that will be pondered upon by many parents embarking on another year of school drop offs. Many parents need to juggle this part of the day with day care, kindy and multiple school destinations, so a more simple gate drop off for older children can potentially have a great impact on a family’s morning routine.
How early is too early in the morning?
Most schools will have their own policy regarding the earliest times that they prefer children to not be left unattended on school grounds before, particularly for Prep students. State schools often require Prep students to be escorted to and from their classroom by a parent or other adult for at least the first semester. Private schools vary depending on what the needs and facilities of each school are.
Often your decision to “drop and go” may also be work driven and so for peace of mind you may be better off looking into before school care to ensure you can drop off without the worry. I know for me, in the early days of dropping my son I would often (more often than I would like to admit) drive back or call and check he got to his classroom. Working from home afforded me that luxury but for those that work outside the home or have pressing commitments, a formal care program may be better even if they are fine in theory to just drop at the gate.
Here are 6 things to consider when deciding if your child is ready to be dropped at the school gate:
- Does the school have a “Stop-Drop-Go” option within the campus? These allow for students to be dropped off by parents within the school grounds, so that navigating streets, gates or other potential hazards is not a factor.
- How confident and capable is your child with the classroom requirements for the start of the day? E.g. Are they able to put their water bottles, lunches, folders and school bags etc. in the right places unassisted?
- How confident is your child with finding their classroom by themselves? Is it a long way for them to walk in the time they have without getting distracted or even lost?
- Is your child happy to wave good bye to you in the car? Separation anxiety is a reality for a lot of kids and this will have a major impact on your child’s ability and/or willingness to be dropped off.
- Can your child be escorted by older siblings or friends? Often younger kids love the chance to walk in with their older brothers and sisters.
- How early will you need to drop them to be able to meet your other commitments and is the school prepared for children to be dropped unaccompanied?
- Does the school call you if your child doesn’t arrive at school for any reason without a phone call from you. For many schools there is no such process in place and not knowing if they arrived safely until the end of the day may not be worth the worry. Find this out.
Are you ready?
Perhaps the biggest question that impacts a parent’s decision on whether their child should be dropped off at the school gate is: Am I ready to do this? Quite often the anxiety over this milestone is not that of the child, but more of the parent. Dropping your little one off and seeing their head only just popping up over the top of their ridiculously over-sized backpack can bring tears to the eyes of the strongest of characters.
Be as patient as you can with your Brisbane Kids. They may have a few false starts with such a big step, but before you know it they will relish in the independence and start bugging you to be able to walk or ride to school with their mates.
The Brisbane Kids Parenting 101 section includes lot of information that will help you on your journey as a parent. Other school concerns we have covered include How to get your kids to tell you about their day, and Strategies for helping kids overcome shyness.