Parenting is rarely an easy task at the best of times. When times get tough, like they have recently, parenting can get even tougher. With schools shut down all over the country, many parents have suddenly been reminded of just how tough parenting is. This is only made worse when some parents are still working, meaning their kids have to be left home alone.
Parents of younger kids can be left in a very tough spot. They need to work, but they also need to keep an eye on their children at home. They worry that their children may not be old enough to be left home alone. Then they wonder at what age a child can legally be left home alone in California.
It Depends on the Child
Deciding to leave a child home alone is not an easy decision to make. Most parents spend hours agonizing over that decision the first time. They may search online for answers, but unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. The one nice thing is that there is no law here in the state of California that states when a child can be left home alone.
When it comes to leaving a child home alone, things vary from kid to kid. This is one of the main reasons why the state doesn’t set an age limit to when a child can be left home alone. Some kids mature faster than others, and so an 8-year-old may be ready to take care of herself for an hour or two while a 9-year-old may still need constant supervision. The state can’t make exact guidelines for this kind of thing and so refer to the parent’s expertise on their child.
To help parents make a truly informed and well thought out decision, the state does provide parents with a list of questions to ask themselves regarding their child on the California Department of Education’s website. These questions include:
- Can he creatively solve problems?
- Do you live in an isolated area without close neighbors?
- Does he always let you know where he is going and when he will return?
- Does your child become bored easily?
- Is a neighbor home to help if needed?
- Is he easily frightened?
- Is she responsible?
- Is your neighborhood safe?
- Will you or another adult always be available to your child in case of an emergency?
- Would caring for the younger sibling restrict the older child’s activities?
- Would she be at home with an older brother or sister? Do siblings get along?
- Would she spend her time responsibly?
- Would the older sibling resent caring for the younger one?
- Would your child rather stay home than go to a child care or after-school program?