No matter how old your child is now, you may come to a point where you have to decide if your child is mature enough to leave home alone or in charge of their siblings. Leaving your child at home may become the most convenient option to ensure that you can go to work before and after your child is in school, for example. While some schools have after-school programs, you might be looking for other options for your child.
No matter why you want to leave your child alone, it is important to consider aspects of their development when you think about it.
Has Your Child Been Alone for Brief Moments?
You might try to have your child stay alone for short trials. Perhaps you want to run to the neighbor's house for a few moments. How does your child handle those moments of being alone? Are they able to solve problems that arise in those short periods?
Does Your Child Have a Sense of Responsibility?
You need to be able to trust that your child has a sense of responsibility before you trust him or her to come home right after school, not invite friends over, and keep the house (and themselves) in one piece. You might test your child for their level of responsibility by establishing chores and rules for the house and then seeing how well your child is able to follow them.
Does Your Child Get Scared Easily?
Do you feel that your child becomes scared often? Will he or she become spooked if they are at home alone in the evening? Would they know what to do if an emergency did occur?
What Are Your Other Options?
If you realize that your child may not be mature and responsible enough to stay home just yet, you should gather some other ideas. For instance, you might find that a classmate's parent can bring your child to their house after school, or perhaps a local community center offers a fun program for children.
Of course, after-school child care programs are also a great choice. Your child be supervised and also have access to friends and a sense of structure. These after-school child care programs are great for those situations in which you aren't exactly sure if your child is mature enough to stay home or if he or she wants to spend more time with friends before coming home.