Although we are a bit hesitant in letting MC walk alone with her friends to school, we slowly had to let her have her independence simply because she's already asking for it.
It was a process though. At first I walked with her and her friend to another house to fetch another classmate and I let them alone in the short walk to school.
And then I had to let her go in front of our house when her schoolmate came but I had to observe them until they reach the next corner. And now, I simply let her out of the front door and she meets her friend and walks with them to school.
Now she is so proud to be walking alone. Thus, when she told me that she would like to walk home alone after gymnastics, I allowed her. After all, the gym is just in the next corner from our house. I didnt realize though that due to the change from daylight saving time to the normal time, it would be really dark outside after her class.
When it was time for her to walk home, I was waiting outside for her. And it was really dark!
I could see a part of the gym from our house and the streets where she would be passing through. And then I heard her talking with someone. And then I saw a car's light beside her. That made me wonder and I wanted to run to her but MC and the car were faster. I saw that inside the car is a gym classmate with her mom.
It turned out that they asked MC to get in the car as they realized she'd be walking alone in the dark. But MC said a definite 'no'. She remembered what we told her, 'never to get inside anybody's car without asking us for permission.'
I was grateful for the thoughtfulness of our neighbor for staying with MC. But I am really comforted by the fact that MC followed our instructions and said 'no.' I think she earned that independence.
Let me tell you what else we told her before she gained her little 'walking alone' freedom:
1. Never to get inside anybody's car without asking us for permission.
2. Avoid talking to strangers if she is alone.
3. Try to walk in groups.
4. Wait for her schoolmates to arrive near the stoplight before pushing the button, this to avoid anybody running through the red light.
5. If possible, especially when it is dark, wear her reflector vest.
6. Try to stop, look and listen and then look again before crossing the streets; especially, avoid crossing the streets between cars and big trucks. It is better to always use the corner streets as most drivers pause longer there.
7. When she visits a friend's house alone, she must always call us to let us know she's arrived. This she forgets most of the time, so I had to call myself, but am sure in time she'd get used to doing this.
8. When visiting friends, we tell her what time she must be back -- and she's almost always back home in time, too.
How about you, do you have your own list, too?