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Home Alone

At what age can your child become a 'latchkey kid?'

Your kids are getting older, but you still aren't sure if you should leave them home alone after school.

The Children's Hospital Medical Center of Akron (Ohio) says most experts agree that children under 9 shouldn't be left alone, and that children under 6 shouldn't be left in the care of an older sibling.

Half of all the children whose parents work are taking care of themselves at home by the time they reach fifth-grade. So here are some factors to weigh when making your decision.

Consider your neighborhood situation, and how emotionally mature your child is and whether he is good at following directions. If you do decide to leave your child alone after school, be sure to have a "check-in time" so you can phone him each day, the hospital says.

And leave an extra key with a trusted neighbor in case your kid loses his key.

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