Whether online learning continues this fall, experts suggest easing kids into being home alone

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"It's really about the child's maturity level and their ability"

(WKBN) – With most local school districts set to begin their new academic year about a month from now, we are getting an idea of how those classes might look. But, it is constantly changing, and that makes it challenging for families to respond.

Parents may also find themselves once again facing tough decisions over going back to work or staying home while their kids study remotely.

“It is entirely kid dependent. Kid dependent, family dependent, how many kids are in that household,” said pediatrician Dr. John Cox.

Under Ohio law, there is no set age where kids can be left home alone, only that they receive what is called “adequate supervision.”

“It’s really about the child’s maturity level and their ability,” said Jennifer Kollar, with Mahoning County Children Services.

Kollar said those abilities are both emotional and physical.

“Can they reach and unlock doors and windows in case of an emergency? Are they able to use a cell phone or a telephone? Do they know how to dial 911?” she said.

Tuesday night, school board members in the South Range district said they are looking at a blended schedule, meaning some days could be in the classroom and others at home. Canfield’s board could announce its plans Thursday night.

Whatever is ultimately decided, experts say parents should ease their younger children into being on their own at home.

“Little by little, if they’re good for a couple hours and then you leave them for three or four hours and they find that they’re doing well — well, now you’ve got a good idea how well that kid’s gonna do,” Dr. Cox said.

Kollar even suggests practicing different scenarios to see how the kids will react when they’re not in school.

“Say, for instance, what would a child do if there was a knock at the door? See how they would reply or respond,” Kollar said.

In the end, it all could lead to serious decision making.

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