Why walking to school is so important

Thought walking to and from school wasn't that important? Think again.

Picture it: It's 8.30am on a cold Monday, the kids are tired and grumpy and you're running late to drop them off at school.

But, here's why you shouldn't reach for the car keys.

According to Living Streets Scotland and public health research, children who do some form of exercise, especially a walk, before school do better in class because they arrive refreshed, fit and ready to learn. (Brooks 2014)

And, with busy roads and limited parking around schools, walking to school is often quicker and less stressful than driving.

Chris Thompson, Schools Manager at Living Streets Scotland said:

Walking to school is easy, cheap and requires no special equipment or set up, apart from shoes and a warm coat and hat on a chilly day.
Children get to learn important life skills, road safety and independence, as well as contributing to physical and mental wellbeing.

For parents, walking to school with their children gives them a great chance to catch up about what’s happening that day and share some quality time together.

Here's some tips to keep walking to fun, interesting and safe:

Stay safe
During normal times, the walk to school is the single most accessible way to reduce congestion and pollution outside the school gates, while increasing the safety and improving physical and mental wellbeing of pupils.

Now that we are taking steps out of the Covid-19 lockdown and looking to the future, walking to school and its countless benefits have become more important than ever.

Don't forget to give everyone else space and avoid bsy routes if possible.

Be a weather watcher
On a cold or wet day, children may stage a protest about walking. Equipping them with the right clothes and footwear, such as a warm coat, waterproof jacket or wellies, will help them stay cosy and dry.
Get a weather app so you're prepared to walk whatever is thrown at you.
As an extra precaution, pack dry socks or gym shoes in their school bag just in case.

Keep it interesting
As with everything, avoiding boredom is key to success when it comes to kids.
This may mean varying your route from time to time. If there's more than one way to get to school, why not let your child pick the route?
You could also challenge them to guess how long they think the route will take or, if you have a Fitbit or activity tracker, ask them to guess how many steps they are going to take before reaching the school gates.
Make sure you also enjoy your natural environment and all the other things you miss when you're in the car such as spotting wildlife or listening to bird singing.

Our friends and partners Living Streets Scotland want every child who can to walk to school.
They have a range of resources, tools and challenges for parents and schools, all with the aim of getting children to walk to school more often.
One is WOW - the year-round walk to school challenge. Pupils record how they travel to school and those who walk at least once per week for a month are rewarded with badges.
Find out more or see if your school is signed up here.

For more information on walking to school, visit www.livingstreets.org.uk/scotland.