Children age seven to nine
Hillside Elementary School, Niskayuna, New York
Children seven to nine years old can continue expanding their pedestrian abilities and knowledge through more education and practice with parental or adult supervision. As with younger children, seven to nine year olds are developing at different rates and gaining pedestrian skills at varying times throughout this time period.
By this age range, children can usually reason about past and future events, which allows for in-depth instruction about more complex safety behaviors. Parents and other adults can begin discussing how safe crossing strategies might differ according to the location. The ability to understand more complex instruction allows children in this age group to combine their knowledge and everyday experiences to strengthen their safe walking habits.
Children seven to nine years old also continue to develop their attention switching skills and their ability to scan scenes and identify important information, such as oncoming traffic (Whitebread & Neilson, 2000; Pasto & Burack, 1997; Pearson & Lane, 1991). These skills are essential to the ability to decide when it is safe to cross and to focus on crossing safely. To cross the road safely, children must be able to locate and acknowledge traffic and pay attention to how traffic is moving while ignoring other distractions in their environment, such as someone walking a dog or a friend calling to them from across the street (Percer, 2009).
As children develop these skills and are better able to focus their attention on single tasks, such as stopping at the curb to check for cars, they can continue to strengthen their safe walking abilities.
As children in this age range are developing, they should be supervised and instructed to ensure that they follow pedestrian safety rules. Despite their increasing abilities, children at this stage should not be in traffic alone (Whitebread & Neilson, 2000; Dunbar, Hill, & Lewis, 2001; Percer, 2009).