Avera Medical Minute: Preparing kids for summer independence

Published: May. 18, 2023 at 5:28 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - For many tweens, the school year is almost over, and that means more opportunities for staying home alone and showing independence.

Twila Perkinson, a family life educator with Avera McKennan, offers some pointers and resources for parents to consider this summer.

When determining the right age for kids to start staying home alone, Perkinson says there is not a certain age on a timeline, but rather it depends on the responsibility level of a child — someone who knows the house rules and what the expectations are.

Perkinson talked about what kind of questions parents can ask themselves when considering a stay-at-home plan for their child.

“Is that child responsible? Do they understand the expectations? Understand some kind of a guideline to the rules that you as a family have? Some parents will try two hours, three hours just to make sure that everything is okay and everyone understands what it is that they are supposed to be doing.”

She also had recommendations for baseline skills kids should have before being left alone.

“It’s important to know that during that time, they’ll be home alone. Kids will be hungry — they’ll need to eat. And so you as a parent could decide if you want them to use the air fryer, the microwave, stovetop, and understand what it is that revolves around those items for safety, making sure that everyone is safe when they’re doing the cooking.”

Perkinson also spoke about the kind of emergency scenarios families should be thinking about.

“Always plan for the emergencies the best you can. Some are being aware of what weather advisories are out, what’s going to be happening. Let them get to know what to expect, what their role will be during bad weather. Another instance might be where someone comes knocking on their door, and they’re not expected. Going through some of those scenarios ahead of time can help to prepare your child and ease your mind as a parent as well.”

Perkinson offered resources available for children who will be without supervision.

“Avera offers a Home Alone class. Our class will be held here in Sioux Falls on Saturday, the 27th of May. It’s from 9 to 3, and we’ll cover all of those basics and responsibilities.”

You can find that class here

For more information on teaching your kids summer independence or enrolling in a class, visit avera.org/medicalminute.