Increasing Independence In Children – Taking The Train To The City

Children Catching The Train On Their Own

This post is part of a series of activities that can help increase your child’s independence. This activity was for my child who is 10 years old, as was the below post:

Other activities which are aimed at younger children (aged 2 – 6) can be found below:

If you have been reading the blog for a while, you may remember when Thinker turned 10 years old last year, he was then allowed to walk home from school on his own. Thinker has chosen to continue doing this everyday since (with one or two exceptions when it was pouring with rain), even though either myself or our lovely neighbour is at school at the end of the day to pick up the other kids.

Thinker and I had talked about what other things that he would like to do now that he is getting older. One of the things that we agreed on (not all were agreed on by both sides) was catching a train into the city (Melbourne) by himself.

To put this in perspective, we live about 13kms east of Melbourne CBD. We used to live inner city and catch the train frequently, but even in the burbs now, we still catch the train every couple of months and head into the city. The train station in our suburb and at the station at Flinders Street are familiar to Thinker.

So a couple of weeks ago, we organised for Thinker to:

  • Walk to our local train station.
  • Purchase his train ticket.
  • Catch designated train to Flinders Street Station.
  • Walk from Flinders Street Station to his dad’s work (other side of city).
  • Meet his dad, to have dinner.
  • Come home with dad.

Map for train ride to the city

Before he went, we made sure the following happened:

  • He had a map, with directions drawn on.
  • He had calculated what time train he needed to catch to meet his dad at 5pm.
  • He had a mobile phone, with relevant contact numbers.
  • He had coins for ticket and emergencies.
  • He was confident and happy to make the trip.

Children catching the train on their own

Thinker was very excited about making the trip. At one point on the day of the trip Thinker came up and told me it was only 102 minutes until he had to leave! I was excited for him, but to be honest also very nervous. I know he is capable and responsible, but letting go and new “firsts” like this is always a nervous time for me.

When the time came for him to leave, I kept calm and didn’t make a huge fuss, when I really felt like hugging and squeezing him tight. He set off happily and confidently and
it was just left for me to wait now.

I had made his dad promise to ring me as soon as he made it to his work. Within about an hour from leaving, Thinker rang to tell me that he was with dad! I felt relieved and happy for him. I could hear that Thinker was incredibly proud of himself and had a great sense of achievement.

Being able to catch the train into the city to meet his dad, is a great achievement. He will now be able to do this to meet his dad and go and see football games, cricket etc. In about 18 months Thinker will be catching trains to school, in situations where they will be large groups of boys. Knowing how to travel safely and sensibly on public transport is an important skill for him to have.

I have shared this story with other parents, the majority of which have been supportive of what we have done. There have been some though, who think that he was too young to do this by himself. Mr I and I were comfortable that the timing was right for him to do this. Every child and every family is different, so this may not be an activity for every 10 year old, but it certainly was a successful one for our 10 year old.