Staying Home Alone: A Big Step In A Child’s Independence


If you’re a parent to a preteen, you care about helping your child make a successful transition from tween to teen to self-sufficient adult. One of the best ways you can help them develop the confidence they’ll need to succeed in life is by teaching them the skills to stay home alone.

Staying home alone is an important part of growing up and beginning to assert their independence. Certainly, it can be an exciting but scary experience for a younger child. A child at home without adult supervision for any length of time must know:

  • how to keep themselves safe indoors, outdoors, online, and with others.
  • what to do in an emergency, including who to call.
  • how to keep from getting hurt.
  • what they should do if they get hurt or sick.

Yes, knowing all that is a big responsibility for a 4th-6th grader. However, preteens who’ve been prepared with the skills and knowledge to stay home alone aren’t intimidated. Instead, they find the experience empowering, and the confidence they gain helps them transition to the next step of independence: watching younger siblings or babysitting for other families.

As a parent, you know that preparing preteens to be independent is a process. It’s natural to consider your child’s age first when determining readiness to stay home alone. However, you also know that age alone is not a reliable indicator of maturity, so it’s vital that you consider other readiness factors, and help your child develop the skills necessary to be safe when you’re away from home.

So How Can You Prepare Your Child To Stay Home Alone?

One easy way to prepare them is with a home alone program like Safe@Home. This 90-minute program teaches small groups of students in 4th through 6th grade the safety skills and first aid skills they need to stay home alone and that parents want them to have. Any adult may teach Safe@Home, so you can bring the program to your community by approaching teachers, nurses, Girl Scout troop leaders, youth group leaders, or parent volunteers about teaching. Visit Safe@Home for more info on the program and how to purchase it.

When your preteen is a bit older and ready to further assert their independence and take on more responsibility, a course like Safe Sitter® Essentials (designed for 6th-8th graders) can give them the safety skills, first aid and rescue training, child care skills, and life and business skills to prepare them for babysitting. Visit Find a Class to locate providers in your area who offer comprehensive Safe Sitter® classes.

Check out our Safe@Home program!

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What Age Are Kids Ready To Stay Home Alone?

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Jennifer Seward

Jennifer Seward

Jennifer has an M.A. in English and years of nonprofit experience. As a writer and former newspaper reporter, she gravitated toward the nonprofit world because she enjoys the vast and inspiring storytelling opportunities found there.
Jennifer Seward