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On Their Own and OK

Iowa 4-H Program Teaches Children Valuable Home-Alone Skills

By Staff | May 6, 2021

Registration is now open for families to register for the On Their Own and OK program, offered Wednesday, May 26 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Emmetsburg VFW.

According to Julie Naig, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach County Youth Coordinator, “Youth left home by themselves without self-care skills may find ways to occupy their time that parents or guardians may not support. Some young people may truly be fearful of staying home alone without adequate education from parents, teachers, and community partners. On Their Own and OK builds skills in youth, as well as incorporates ways for parents or guardians in the home to support this step toward independence.”

“On Their Own and OK is designed for children in third through eighth grade,” said Jamie Neff, Program Coordinator with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. “Families can register their children by Wednesday, May 19 by calling 712-852-2865.”

There is a $10 fee per youth that includes lunch, handouts, and materials. Scholarships are also available.

Families who have had children participating in the program in the past have noted that the program reinforced how to act in an emergency, helped their children handle boredom without technology, helped them assign age-appropriate responsibilities, and care for young siblings who may also be home. One parent said, “This is an awesome workshop! It has given my husband and me the talking points to discuss with our son, who is learning to stay home by himself.”

U.S. Census data shows that 7 million school-age children across the nation are left home alone after school and during the summer months. Fifteen states have laws defining a set age or age range for when a child can be left home alone. Iowa has no set age.

To register for this hands-on learning experience to help build youth confidence to safely stay home alone, please call the Palo Alto Extension Office at 712-852-2865.

For more registration details, contact Jamie Neff at jblaser@iastate.edu or Julie Naig at jnaig@iastate.edu.