Distance From Home; An important determinant of the choice of school

How often have you seen an exhausted child who can barely keep his or her eyes open as they enter the school premises? It isn’t the best recipe for an activity-filled day, you would agree.

In making the choice of school, the one aspect that often gets ignored is the distance of the school from home. Yet this is one facet that you can ignore only at your peril. Long commutes lead to the child being physically and mentally tired. Not to mention the fact that this time can be utilized far more productively- whether it is reading a book, playing or even relaxing.

One study quantifies what stands to reason: Long commutes to school have negative impacts on children’s well-being. A research by Carole Turley Voulgaris of California Polytechnic State University, Michael J. Smart of Rutgers University, and Brian D. Taylor of UCLA, takes a detailed look at how lengthy commutes affect the time kids devote to other daily activities. The bad news is that long commutes are seen to take a substantial toll on students’ sleep and exercise.

Although set in a different geography, this study revealed that each additional minute of commuting is associated with a 1.3-minute reduction in sleep. Simply put, if one student had a 10-minute commute, and a second had a 30- minute commute, the second student would get an average of 26 minutes less sleep.

Long commutes, therefore, are likely to impact:

  • points Child’s health & well-being
  • points Sleep
  • points Academic Performance
  • points Participation in other activities
  • points Absenteeism, as with an exhausted child, you may have no choice but to get him or her to miss school often, affecting his or her studies.

Best Practice

When it comes to primary students, particularly, the best practice is that the commute for the child shouldn’t be more than 45 minutes by school bus. This will ensure that the commute does not physically exhaust the child as also does not impinge on his sleep time.

If you are making the choice of school for your ward, distance of the school from your home, therefore, needs to be up there on your priority list. For starters, you need to draw up a list of schools in an acceptable radius that offer safe school transport. The distance to the nearest pick up and drop point will also be an important factor to consider. It will work well to then proceed from there and create a shortlist of schools that fulfill other important criterion such as:

  • points The kind of safety it offers to your ward
  • points Whether the school is progressive
  • points The board that it is affiliated to
  • points Availability of daycare
  • points Focus on sports and co-curricular activities, and many other aspects

Watch out for this space, as we discuss many of these factors in detail that help you make the right decision!

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May 2024