We know the benefits of providing a strong educational foundation from the very earliest years, and of having strong community involvement in our schools. But you may not be familiar with all the benefits of walking vs. driving to school. Let’s explore the benefits of walking to school (and of riding a bike to school).
7 Advantages of Living within Walking Distance of School
Walking or riding a bike to school can be highly beneficial to kids, parents, and the community as a whole. Here are seven advantages of living close to your school.
1. Good, Reliable Exercise
One of the primary benefits of walking to school (or biking) is the fact that it’s good physical exercise. Walking burns calories, promotes better cardiovascular health, and supports increased energy levels throughout the day.
For kids aged 6 through 17, the recommended amount of exercise is about 60 minutes per day. A brisk 10-minute walk to school counts toward that hour of exercise while also boosting energy levels, making further activity a bit easier.
2. Improved Mental Health
Not only are walking and biking good for your kids’ physical health, but they can also improve their mental well-being. Exercise in general has been shown by multiple studies to be an effective way to reduce anxiety, depression, and stress.
3. It Can be Safer than Driving
One concern that parents raise about having their kids walk or bike to school is safety. While it may seem like driving your kids to school is the safest option, the reality is that children are more likely to be injured in a vehicle accident than they are on a walk to school.
4. More Interaction with Friends
To add to the health and safety benefits of walking to school, it’s also a great opportunity to make friends and socialize. When kids walk together in groups to and from school, they get to know those who live in their neighborhood. This is a great way to foster friendships with children of different ages, and the end result is a more connected community.
5. Less Money Spent on Gas
As your kids walk to school or ride their bikes rather than sit in your car, your finances will benefit as well. Less driving means less money spent on gas, which is obviously a good thing. It’s also better for the environment as you contribute less to the area’s carbon emissions. By replacing a daily round trip in the car with walking or biking to school, your family helps contribute toward a cleaner, healthier Earth.
6. Greater Appreciation for the Outdoors
The more time children spend outdoors, the more comfortable they’ll be when they go outside. This can encourage them to get outside more often, which is associated with various benefits, including increased levels of vitamin D and improved creativity and executive function. Daily outdoor time also fosters an appreciation for nature, especially when you have plenty of green space to enjoy in your neighborhood.
7. Familiarity with the Community
Finally, living within walking distance of school helps your kids build familiarity with their community. Navigating through the streets and past neighbors’ houses can help your kids get acquainted with the place where they live, which in turn can help build awareness of what’s going on around them. This can lead to a stronger sense of community for your kids and for you.
Ways to Encourage Your Child to Walk or Bike
Of course, sometimes asking your kids to walk to school may be met with resistance. These tips may help you encourage your kids:
- Invite their friends and their parents to join you on your walk.
- Be enthusiastic, even if it’s raining. After all, few kids can resist splashing in puddles.
- Play “I spy” or other games on the way.
- Start small. Walking one way is better than not walking at all.
- Get your child that new bike they’ve been wanting!
Tips for Walking or Biking to School
Finally, here are some tips for safe walking and biking.
- Mind traffic. Teach your kids about traffic signs and signals and be sure to abide by them yourself.
- Walk or bike in groups.
- Wear a helmet when on a bike.
- Stay within designated pedestrian areas.
- Wear appropriate footwear.
- Be sure to allow enough time.
Walk to a School in Your Own Neighborhood
Many Hillwood Communities already have on-site elementary schools (and others have them planned for the future), making them easy to access on foot or by bicycle. Some of our communities have dedicated trails that connect our residential neighborhoods to their schools. To learn more about our Hillwood Communities and our commitment to education, contact us today.