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Benefits of Walking to School (Learning Laboratory)

benefits of walking to school for kids

I’ve really prioritized walking to school this year! The weather has been incredibly cooperative so far, but it’s still an investment – I have to have all four kids ready to go a full forty minutes before school starts, instead of ten minutes before, then there’s the complaining about being tired/shoes hurting/being cold because they refused to wear their jacket (they’re getting smarter about that last one!)

It’s all worth it, because the benefits of walking to school far outweigh the disadvantages! Here are a few things we enjoy:

  • Bonding time. Our walk is about a mile each way, so it’s plenty of time to talk about things that are on our minds, make up jokes, and just enjoy being together. I find that my kids talk a lot more when we’re walking than they do sitting at home.
  • Exercise. Walking to and from school guarantees that I get nearly two miles of exercise a day, even if it’s at a snail’s pace. It’s great for the kids, too.
  • Sensory experience. My kids love finding new plants, and this morning Johnny gave up his turn riding on the stroller board just so that he could crunch the fall leaves under his feet.
  • Exploring nature. We’re learning about different birds and plants – what they look like, and what they sound like. We are all learning to pay more attention to the beautiful world we live in.
  • Math. Walks are a fantastic way to practice counting! My kids count rocks, and leaves, and other objects. We also discovered that the telephone poles in our neighborhood are numbered – perfect for preschoolers to practice number recognition and sequencing!
  • Calm-down time. Getting ready for school can feel stressful, and walking there once you are ready can provide a calming space that will help kids be ready for the day ahead. Walking home gives kids time to process their school day and transition to being home.

Do you take your kids on walks?

MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

27 thoughts on “Benefits of Walking to School (Learning Laboratory)”

  1. I shared your post on our Safe Routes To School Webpage love how you list all of the benefits of walking and bonding being number one. This is so true.

  2. Yes! So true – I lived 2 blocks from school growing up and the bonding time I had with my mom (and later, little brother) during those walks was priceless. Thanks for the post and the memories!

  3. Looks like a great bonding time! In the states, we walked to school (it was only one block), but right now there’s not many places we can walk. We do, however, have a huge property for exploring!

  4. I totally meant to walk the kids to school more but that hasn’t happened……….. yet. Thanks for the motivation and I agree with all you said.

  5. When we lived in California we lived close enough to walk. Amusingly enough when we moved to Texas we were far enough that we couldn’t walk, but not far enough to ride the bus (cut off for the bus was 2 miles, and we were 1.9 miles). I used to love walking to school when I was younger.
    We sometimes walk to our local park and it’s always fun.

  6. I prefer walking to school! Our walk is only about ten minutes (at the pace of my kids) and it actually gives us extra time in the morning. The bus comes at 8, but school doesn’t start until 8:50. So if we walk, we typically leave the house around 8:30 to give the kids some a few minutes to run around on the playground before school.

  7. How lovely to walk to school and back together! I always walked to school on my own, or with my sister, from the age of five (I guess you can’t do that these days!!). My family would sometimes have a walk all together in the evenings, especially in the winter looking at Christmas lights. I always enjoyed that.

  8. jeannine: waddlee-ah-chaa

    Oh yes, Miss Enigma just came inside from playing and asked if we could go for a walk tonight.
    What dedication on your part for getting everyone ready for an early walk each morning. This is such a nice way for your family to start the day.

  9. I’ll bet it is really difficult to get all four kids ready to go in time but it definitely sounds worth it. Hope the weather continues to cooperate! Sounds like a perfect way to start the day.

  10. Once you’re on your way, that must be a wonderful way to bookend the school day–good time to get into school mode, then a nice transition to after school fun. And exercise to boot: bonus! I love your thoughtful style of parenting…you make me want to be more mindful!

  11. It is unfortunate that many kids have lost the opportunity to walk to school. I have some very fond memories of doing that with my friends and my brother that I am so glad I have.

    Hum, I think you’ve given me an idea for a blog story. :D

  12. I love the conversations my son and I have on the way to school. It’s a great way to catch up, go over the schedule for the afternoon, have fantastical conversations. One week he spent most of the mornings telling me all about the life cycle of a bee hive in documentary form! :-)

    1. That sounds like a wonderful conversation! It’s one of the best ways to have long conversations with my kids, I find. :)

  13. We have started one-on-one (or two-on-one?) time every week with the person whoÄs turn it is for the lesson at Family Home Evening: always in a cuddly setting on the couch. Since I find walking is one great way to get conversations going and people to open up, I was wondering how we could do it here. Quinn likes to draw and have us draw with her while she opens up and Audrey simply enjoys the attention and massaging.
    I am thinking of having this time om Sundays as it’s always tight timewise after FHE with school the next day…
    Unforunately there’s a busy road between us and Quinn’S school which must be crossed at one point; otherwise the walk there would always be a great walk through the countryside. Robin has to pass by on his way to work anyhow, so getting her there by 7.30 am (most schools here start at 8 but Quinn’s starts even earlier!) also makes sure Robin gets to work earlier. A mom of one of Quinn’s new friends brings her home which will be even more appreciated by me once the baby arrives!
    Our most frequent walks are just down the street to our neighbor (the organic farmer) to see all her animals and growing fruits and veggies (on Friday we chose two huge crates full of various pumpkins and squashes)- the turkeys are particularly entertaining right now. :)We haven’t been going for long walks lately.

    1. Living near an organic farm sounds wonderful! I love the one-on-one time you have with your little FHE lesson planners :)

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