For 17 Years This Has Been My Favorite Time of Day

Schools are community spaces. That makes sense. We talk about building classroom community, professional community and creating community with other parents and families through organizations and events. In fact, we use the word community so often that it loses its meaning.

But what about the community that schools create that is not as visible, but just as impactful? What about the community created within families because of the walks to school, or the conversations at the bus stop, the daily musings and mundane discussions around dinner tables over phone/text or during sprints to after school events in the car? These moments of connection are easily overlooked but when compounded they can take your breath away.

walking to school
Those walks to school created precious memories. (Photo credit: Heather Casey)

We walked the half mile to our K-5 public school

I have 4 kids who range in age from 22- 11 and we live a half a mile away from our neighborhood K-5 public school. Our kids take/took the bus to their middle and high school because that is farther but, clearly, living down the street does not qualify you as a “buser” but as a “walker” and we took that quite literally from day 1.

Beginning in 2007, when my oldest started Kindergarten, we began a tradition of walking to and from school whenever we could. At first, it was because the before and after school rush of cars around our neighborhood school that is bursting at the seams is not for the faint of heart.

I realized that the walk to school was my favorite time of day

Soon, however, I realized it was my favorite time of the day. Sometimes I listened to worries or excitement, some days we did a quick review for whatever test was coming up or organized an after-school homework plan. Other times we just walked, quietly, lost in our own thoughts.

At first, it was my oldest son with his younger brother two years behind in a wagon or tricycle, and soon it was the two of them together. Our 3rd son started Kindergarten when our second son left so he and his younger brother were constant companions on these walks even before they stepped foot in the school attending infant/toddler and pre-school care at the Y day care center across the street.

Over these last 17 years it has ranged from 1, 2, 3, 4 kids in all sorts of stages from single to double strollers, wagons, bikes, scooters and more. Sometimes we walked with friends, sometimes we chased after friends. My youngest son and I turned it into a word problem to try and figure out the average number.

Today was our last official walk

Our youngest son is moving up from 5th grade this year. Today was our last official walk to/from school. Just me and him and for him it must feel like his forever place since he has been connected to this school through his older brothers since birth. I have loved so much of what this elementary school has given my family. It has provided community in all the ways we think schools can and should offer community and I am forever grateful for the relationships we all developed along the way.

And just as much I will always remember the walks and talks (on the days when life allowed it) with my kids. Those precious moments in a day when the invisible work of community etches its lessons in our minds and in our hearts. 

More Great Reading:

I Wish for One More Ordinary Day With My Three Young Children

About Heather Casey, PHD

Heather Casey, PhD is a proud mom of four boys Ryan, Dylan, Collin and Shane. She and her husband, Jim, live in New Jersey where they enjoy long walks and talks with their kids. Heather is also a Professor of Literacy Education at Rider University where she teaches and writes about school and community literacy practices. 

Read more posts by Heather

Don't miss out!
Want more like this? Get updates about parenting teens and young adults straight to your inbox.