At least one million primary school children across Australia are expected to hit the streets on foot tomorrow for National Walk Safely to School Day.

Swapping car seats for sneakers will foster more than fitness and road safety awareness in kids, Centacare parenting expert Kay Buckley says.

No matter how far they have to walk, children and parents can learn a lot from a quick stroll to school which can benefit child development.

“We don’t always take opportunities to give our kids practice at living skills because that takes time and patience and, more often than not, requires us to be there.

“But walking to school is one of those little things that can help grow really capable children.’’

On their way to school, children can:

  • Gain independence
  • Learn about their neighbourhood
  • Become aware of driveways
  • Learn to take risks
  • Get to know what’s in people’s yards and begin to recognise landmarks
  • Interact with nature
  • Learn about social science
  • Learn about vegetation growing on nature strips and in gardens
  • Meet their neighbours and other locals who may become a possible support resource later
  • Communicate with siblings and their parents/carers
  • Spend electronic device-free time together

“The information around them will promote conversation and that can take children and parents anywhere,’’ Kay says.

“Walking also takes time, and for parents who are time-poor, that’s valuable time with their kids.’’

Run by the Pedestrian Council of Australia, national Walk Safely to School Day, now in its 18th year, is a community initiative aimed at raising awareness of road safety, and the health and environmental benefits of regular walking.

For more information, please phone Elizabeth Rowe 0437 062 302