Latch Key Kids



A latchkey kid or latchkey child is a child who returns from school to an empty home because their parent or parents are away at work, or a child who is often left at home with little parental supervision. (More)

Having your child stay at home alone is a big deal worth preparing to be ready to do successfully. Here is a collection of articles and guides to help with the process.


When it’s just you After School

Parent Guidebook of Kids Alone at Home

Latchkey Kids in the 21st Century: Keeping Your Kids Safe When You’re Not Home

Why are we so afraid to leave children alone? UCI study finds moral judgments about parents affect perceptions of risk

Latchkey Kids

Legal Age Restrictions for Latchkey Kids

The Library and the Latchkey
“Current trends are again influencing youth services in libraries. Economic and social conditions have increased the need for child care services and created the phenomenon of the so–called &’latchkey child’—the school–aged child who has no parent or guardian at home after school hours and has no alternative care arrangement…. It is not surprising that great numbers of children are in the public library unattended after school, on school holidays, and during emergency closing days such as snow days. What role do public libraries have to play in providing safe shelter for the nation’s children? Where does the library’s responsibility to community needs end? Who will provide the after–school services to children if the public library closes its doors?”

The New Latchkey Kids
“More than a million grade–schoolers have nobody to take care of them once class lets out. Where have all the after–school programs gone?”

Protecting Your Kids When They’re Home Alone
Information from the National Safe Kids Campaign.

Self Care for School Age Children
Report from the Australian Institute for Family Studies, guidelines for parents and children, resources in Australia.

When It’s Just You After School
Information for kids from KidsHealth, includes safety tips.

Keeping Your Latchkey Kid Safe at Home

Kids Home Alone? Follow These Safety Steps

Home Alone Activities


Readiness to stay home video

Walking Home



The Alert Program-Self Regulation


An Occupational Therapist recently provided this program for a student that had trouble with having too much energy in the classroom. The Alert Program provided a system for the student to recognize his energy and do activities to help him calm down to be ready for learning. Below are some of the concepts around the Alert Program to address self regulation.

Official Site: Here

Online Training: Here

How Does Your Engine Run?

How Does Your Engine Run, or The Alert Program (AP), is a specifically designed program for pre-school aged children and up that addresses self-regulation of arousal states. It uses the analogy of an automobile to introduce its concepts i.e. “If your body is like a car engine, sometime it runs on high, sometimes it runs on low, and sometime it runs just right”. The program is implemented in three stages: identifying engine speeds, experimenting with methods to change engine speeds, and regulating engine speeds. Visual aids along with practical instruction are used to enhance the learning experience. Many benefits are seen from using this program including enhanced abilities to learn, improved interactions, improved self-esteem, improved self confidence, and improved self-monitoring skills. The AP can be done in individual or group treatment settings. Source


Self Regulation Mini Guide

Self-Regulation: Calm, Alert, and Learning*

Sensory Diet vs. The Alert Program (“How Does Your Engine Run”) What’s The Difference And How Can They Help MY Child?

Self Regulation and Sensory Integration How Does your Engine Run? Christal K. Peters, MS OTR/L PPT presentation


So the idea is to get your engine running just right.





Activities that are typically alerting, to “speed up engines”

In general:

  • rapidly changing/irregular inputs
  • quick tempos
  • music — lower frequencies will elicit movement (drums), while higher frequencies can engage attention (flutes, singing, cymbals)
  • cold temperatures (including foods)
  • light, brushing touch
  • fast movement, especially spinning/rotational
  • sour or spicy flavors
  • fast-moving, bright, unpredictable visuals
  • using muscles for “heavy work” of pushing, pulling, against resistance (tends to be both alerting and organizing, so can help lower “too fast engines” and raise “too slow engines”)


Swinging quickly on playground swing, especially with sudden changes of direction
Spinning on a swing or other equipment (can quickly become over-stimulating – use caution!)
Rocking quickly in a rocking chair
Running, skipping, galloping for at least 1-2 minutes (any type of aerobic exercise, really)
Rapid rocking/bouncing side to side
Jumping in place (trampoline, jumping jacks, jumping rope, etc.)
Motor breaks during school – stand and stretch, run an errand for teacher, walk to bathroom, etc.
Push on wall as if to move wall
Lean on desk for “desk push-up”
Do “chair push-up” in sitting by lifting bottom off floor or chair, holding self up with arms
Weight-bearing through arms via wheelbarrow walk, crabwalk, bearwalk, etc.
Ride a bike up hills (pedal against resistance)
Pushing or pulling heavy furniture; putting chairs on desks & taking down
Climbing playground equipment; crossing monkey bars
Carrying a stack of books, laundry, groceries, or something else approx. 5% of body weight
Drinking grapefruit, cranberry or other tart juice – try partially freezing it
Popsicles or frozen grapes or orange sections. Try frozen pickle chunks!
Pretzels, carrots, apples, granola, and other crunchy foods
Drinking through a long, thin straw, or reg. straw w/thick liquids (stimulates deeper breathing)
Blowing bubbles, whistle or other blown instrument (harmonica)
Move cotton balls by blowing through a straw (race cotton balls or play “soccer” on table)
Play with “fidget toy” for hands, such as small koosh ball
Dancing to rock, jazz, rap, or fast kids music
Cold shower or cold water on face or arms
Strobe light effects, fireworks, sometimes computer or video games or T.V.
Brightly lit room (full spectrum or natural light)
Walls decorated with bright, contrasting colors
Safe crashing: jump or fall into pile of pillows or mats; pillow fighting


Typically calming activities to “slow down” engines
In general:

  • slow, steady, rhythmic, repeated, predictable input
  • slow and rhythmic music
  • firm, steady, pressure touch or squeezing (think massage or a big hug)
  • using muscles for “heavy work” (see note above under alerting activities)
  • bland or sweet-tasting flavors
  • slow-moving, dim, deep-colors for visuals
  • neutral warmth
  • slow linear movements forward-and-back or head-to-toe

Activities and Strategies:

Rhythmic bouncing on a hippety-hop ball or seated on therapy ball
Steady, slow forward/back movement on swing or rocking chair
Rocking horse or see-saw; pushing off hard with legs
Listening to classical music, steady drums, or nature sounds (water, birds, waves)
Jumping on a trampoline, doing jumping jacks, or jumping rope
Riding a bike up hills (pedaling against resistance)
Pushing or pulling heavy furniture; putting chairs on desks & taking down
Carrying a stack of books, laundry, groceries, or something else approx. 5% of body weight
Carry backpack or “fanny pack” with some weight to it (not more than 5% of body weight)
Push on wall as if to move wall
Lean on desk for “desk push-up”
Hold self above chair seat, weight-bearing through arms, hands to side of seat for “chair push-up”
Weight-bearing through arms via wheelbarrow walk, crabwalk, bearwalk, etc.
Isometrics: push hands together, hook hands and pull apart, push knee against hand, etc.
Tug’o’war, “indian wrestling,” push’o’war back to back
Push with feet against something (push’o’war with a pillow between 2 peoples’ feet, no shoes)
Push or pull open and hold open heavy doors
Erase or wash chalkboards
Look at fish tank, snow globes, lava lamp, campfire, or other slow-moving visual
Dimly lit room, and sparsely-decorated walls (“cool” colors)
Eat chewy foods (send fruit roll-ups, bagels, dried fruit, cheese, gummy candy with lunch)
Chew on Chewy Tubes or Chewelry (avail. in some catalogs) or Theratubing
Wear spandex clothing, like bike shorts or long underwear (can wear either under regular clothes)
While in circle time or listening in seat, hold a lap weight (such as a large beanbag animal)
Use a heavy/weighted blanket; read or work lying on floor with pillows stacked on top
Wrap or roll-up in blanket or rug
Crawl through a tunnel of about 3 yards of 18” cotton T-shirt ribbing (avail in fabric stores)
Have an adult roll a therapy ball over body while lying on mat or rug
Squeeze stress ball or other resistive “fidget toy” (putty, beeswax, art erasers)
Put hands into container of beans or rice
Inflatable seat cushion (Move’n’sit or camping pillow) or sit on therapy ball for listening times
Safe crashing: jump or fall into pile of pillows or mats; pillow fighting

Developing Functional Independence in Children


All children have to learn skills that lend to their independence and autonomy. Developing  Functional Independence is a parent’s main duty. Educators can team with parents to support independence in their students by helping identifying a need and suggesting strategies that support self reliance in a child. Chores are a great way to introduce concepts of developing independence.

There are 5 questions I think you can ask that will help you as you decide how to handle the situations at home to promote independence.

  1. What things are really important to you as a family? If taking care of pets is really important and your child has a role in that, then as a family, that’s an important piece. But if no one else makes the bed in the family, for example, it may not be an important thing to expect of that child. This is what I mean by choosing what you’re going to do battle over.
  2. What things are really important to your child and their life? It may not be important to you that your child chooses their own TV programs in the evening. But for your child, it may be really important to do that. Or it may be very important for your six-year-old to pick out her own clothes. If these tasks give your child age appropriate independence, I say let them do it.
  3. Does the expectation contribute to the family or household? If your child has a responsibility to empty the dishwasher and that helps the next person who has to set the table, that’s a more important task than something that doesn’t have any connection to anyone else in the family.
  4. Can there be some give and take? Can there be a choice to do something similar but different? There may be something your child is more willing or able to do that might be more meaningful to the rest of the family. Remember, the goal is for your child to succeed at what he’s doing and to build on that success.
  5. Are there things you can do to help organize your child? Can you help structure that particular task or responsibility so that your child can be more successful? Setting it up so your child can more easily sort the recycling by having a designated area and special bins set up might do wonders to get the job done. Source



Great Video-How to Strengthen Your Parent-Child Bond

Young Children

Developmentally Appropriate Practice – Adaptive/Self-Help Skills

Developing Young Children’s Self-Regulation through Everyday Experiences

Developing children’s social and emotional skills

Child Development Principles and Theories

School Aged Children

10 Great Ways to Teach Children Responsibility

Parents told: ‘use chores to teach children basic skills’

How To: Teaching Life Skills Through Physical Education

Building Social and Emotional Skills in Elementary Students: Empathy

Across the Span Infancy to Adolescents

The ultimate guide to chores

Enhancing and Practicing Executive Function Skills with Children from Infancy to Adolescence

Responsibility: Raising Children You Can Depend On

Parenting: Raise Independent Children Are you raising responsible or contingent children?

Special Education

Building Independence In Children with Intellectual Disabilities or Autism


Life Skills Activities, Worksheets, Printables, and Lesson Plans

Lesson Plans for Teaching Self-Determination

Activity Ideas-Based on Age


Erikson was keen to improve the way children and young people are taught and nurtured, and it would be appropriate for his ideas to be more widely known and used in day-to-day life. It is good to take stock in what should be accomplished at each stage of development to help keep expectations in perspective when parenting toward independence. Source