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What are some signs that your child is ready to handle staying home alone, or being home between end of school and your arrival home from work, or even if they're sick one day?
It really depends on the child. My eldest is very responsible and thinks before jumping. I know he is unlikely to do something that will burn down the house or invite trouble in. My youngest, on the other hand, I suspect I won't let her stay home by herself until she was older than her brother was when he began staying home by himself -- age 12.
When your child says they are ready, it's mostly a matter of when they think they won't be afraid to stay in the house by themself. Then, it's up to you to decide if they are ready at 12 or 15; it's your choice of when you feel comfortable with this big change -- not your child's decision.
Regardless, start slowly. Try a trip to the grocery store for a while, then build up to an hour or two, then more as the child proves they can be responsible on their own, they know not to answer the door (my friend tells her son not to answer the phone when there aren't any adults in the home), use the stove/oven, don't put metals (and tin foil) in the microwave, etc.
You also need to know the legal age minimum for being unsupervised at home, it varies by juristiction.
Sometimes you do what you have to do regardless of the laws and jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is not going to feed your family. i used to leave my 4.5 years old with his baby brother as a babysitter for a couple of hours. Never had any problems but fully understood the risk of doing that.
I had no idea there were laws for this!
This is great advice; a build up to trust. I think that would work toward more peace of mind when you're out for a few hours. Excellent.
Of course you can't always follow the letter of the law, but it pays to know what it is. Also to leave the kid with instructions and people they can contact if something unexpected happens.
I remember being home alone for hours at the age of 9, but I was too much of a bookworm to get into any trouble, and would have been too scared of getting into trouble anyway.
I know of another lady who's 4 year old girl is home alone with her 6 month old sister quite frequently. I think 6 months is a bit too young to leave with a 4 year old though.
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