During World War II, when women had to go to work in factories because the men in the military caused a worker shortage, many kids had to go home from school to an empty house. This is when the nickname “latchkey kids” began to be used to describe these children, and this term is still heard today. If your kids fit this description, they are not alone, according to Parents Magazine who reports that a 2010 survey conducted by Afterschool Alliance, a non-profit advocacy organization, and JCPenney Afterschool found that one in 25 kindergartners through fifth-graders take care of themselves after school. Furthermore, the number of overall self-supervised children had jumped to 15.1 million nationwide, which was a six percent increase since 2004.
Even though the trend of latchkey kids seems to be growing, this does not mean parents are any less worried about their children’s safety. At Unlimited Security, we offer latchkey services as an option with our home security systems. This service will notify you with a text or an email when your kids get home safely, which can provide peace of mind. Of course, you should prepare your children for being home alone for a few hours, and we would like to share a few tips with you that can keep your kids safe.
Be sure to check the age restrictions in your state.
Most experts feel that a child should be at least 12 years old to be alone at home, but certain states have specific age restrictions. In Illinois, your child must be 14 years old to be unsupervised at home, and in Maryland, the minimum age is 8.
Set the rules and review them.
Create a schedule for your kids to follow, such as homework, chores, TV. You should also designate check in times where you will call or text your children. Talk to your kids about your expectations of what they should and should not do.
Test the waters with practice.
Parents Magazine suggests starting with 30 minutes of unsupervised time and then build up the alone time to an entire afternoon. Tell your kids to show you how to lock the door behind them as well as how to turn off the alarm, which will send you the text or email to let you know they made it home okay. Think of different situations to role-play, including what to do if someone calls for Mommy or Daddy or if someone knocks on the door.
Be prepared for every scenario.
You will want to post important phone numbers on the refrigerator. Quiz your children on the different possible scenarios, like what to do if a fire breaks out. Ask an adult neighbor or friend close by to be on call in case of an emergency. Keep your kids safe by locking up your guns, liquor, and any poisonous materials.
Keep a positive attitude.
Even though you may be nervous and uneasy the first time you leave your children alone at home, do not let them see your fear as this can make your kids more nervous and uneasy. If they see you feeling confident, they will as well.
Unlimited Security cares about your kids’ safety. Contact us to learn more about our latchkey services.