Recent research reveals that walking to school is good for a child's educational development. A study of nearly 20,000 Danish children found that children who walked or cycled to school were able to concentrate significantly better than non-active students for the first four hours of the day. Research in Washington DC also found correlation between the level of walkability and overall school performance.
Walking to school is not only good for a child's health and education, it also helps them to better understand the world around them. As part of VicHealth's Streets Ahead program, children at four schools in the Darebin area were asked to map their neighbourhood. Those who walked to school were better able to describe the area they lived in, while children who were driven drew their neighbourhood as a series of fragmented, abstract images (Streets Ahead 2008-2011 p20).
The capacity to walk in their neighbourhood is highly important to children’s independent mobility and general development. Patterns and behaviours established during childhood tend to carry into adulthood. Those who adopt healthy behaviours, such as walking, when they are young are more likely to continue these practises as adults. Children are more likely to walk if their parents walk - and parents are best placed to teach them to negotiate their neighbourhood safely.