Children’s Independent Mobility

Teaching children to move around by themselves and feel confident and comfortable when doing so is a process that begins early in life. By building knowledge and skills regarding traffic, road safety, ways to move, how to move and directions, we are able to foster children’s independent mobility.

Children’s independent mobility is defined as a child’s freedom to travel and play around their neighborhood or city without parental supervision. While this definition may not be relevant to an early years setting, we can lay the foundation with the skills and knowledge that are crucial for this independence to flourish.

Engaging in activities that develop safety awareness, risk assessment and anticipation skills begins to build the knowledge that children need when moving independently throughout any space. These skills can be taught in many ways, including through play and physical activities. For example, in order to develop anticipation skills, children can run around in an open space while moving in and out of each other. This creates an opportunity for the children to anticipate the speed and direction of other children and therefore calculate their own response in order to avoid a collision. This is a skill needed later in life when learning to cross the road.

Alternatively, you can play a game such as the ‘What is traffic?’ game posted on this website that utilizes resources created by ICBC. These resources consist of cross-curricular learning plans that introduce children to the concept of safety, and specifically for children in the early years about traffic.

Another option is to involve the children in songs, movement and activity that builds awareness of mindful road behaviour.

The City of Vancouver teamed up with award-winning children’s entertainers Will Stroet of Will's Jams and Charlotte Diamond to inspire safe, courteous, and mindful behaviour on and around our roads, specifically highlighting the most vulnerable and at-risk groups (children, seniors, people who walk, bike, or roll, including people in wheelchairs).

Finally, it is important to also relay this information to parents. As with most things, informing parents of the importance of teaching their children how to assess the dangers of a setting and safe ways to get around their neighbourhood rather than always doing it for them is crucial for child development. Simple ways to do this is to ask the child when they think it is safe to cross the road before agreeing and crossing the road together. Additionally, when crossing the road, try not to hold the child’s hand, but walk beside them and let them walk themselves across without support when it is safe to do so.