Latchkey Children Reading Ielts Answers and Questions

The Blog post contains the following IELTS Reading Questions:

  • IELTS reading List Selection
  • IELTS reading multiple choice questions
  • IELTS reading Summary Compleion

Stay informed and prepared for success – Explore our comprehensive Reading Test Info page to get valuable insights, exam format details, and expert tips for mastering the IELTS Reading section.

IELTS Reading Passage – Latchkey Children

Latchkey children

Latchkey child was a term coined to describe children who wore or carried house keys to school so that they could let themselves into their home when they returned from school. The term came into use during the Second World War, when fathers had gone off to war, and mothers had gone into industry, making the tanks, planes, uniforms and bullets the soldiers needed. The children went home with keys on chains, ribbons or a piece of string tied around their necks. Some mothers chose to work the night shift, called the “swing shift”, and tucked their children into bed, locked the door and went to the factory. The country’s response was prompt and comprehensive. Programmes were set up in factories, in schools and community centres, to gather in all the children whose parents were busy with the war effort. These programmes closed promptly when the war ended, and women resumed their roles as housewives. More than sixty years on, there are large numbers of working mothers, but unlike in wartime, the country isn’t organised to care for their children.

Sadly, finding young children at home without adult supervision has become much loo commonplace. Latchkey children were once found only among the lower classes, but the situation has gradually spread to the middle and upper classes. The same is true of adolescent violence. In the past, shootings and stabbings were associated primarily with inner city, or poverty stricken areas permeated with abusive families and neglectful schools. However, in recent limes, the “teen violence” epidemic has penetrated society at every economic level. An increase in the number of working mothers, as well as single-parent families, combined with a decrease in extended families that once helped with childcare, has contributed to the growing ranks of latchkey kids.

According to one census, one-third of all school-age children in the United States are, for some part of the week, latchkey kids, that is, they go home to an empty house or apartment. The total number may be between five and seven million children between five and thirteen years old. Marian Wright Edelman, the director of the Children’s Defence Fund, thinks it’s close to 16 million children. The Census Bureau found that 15% were home alone before school, 76% after school and 9% at night. Presumably, the 9% have parents who work night shifts.

One-half of all children in the country aged 12 to 14 are home alone for an average of seven hours a week. The very poor in America arc less likely to leave their children alone at home, or allow them to go home alone, than families who earn twice their level of income. This is probably because the very poor live in less safe neighbourhoods, and have fewer friends or family who can step in, in case of emergency. In spite of the hours spent on the job, working mothers spend an average of five-and-a-half hours a day with their children.

When latchkey children are functioning well, we don’t hear about them. But we do hear about the one-third of all complaints to child welfare agencies which involve latchkey children. We know about the 51% who are doing poorly in school. Most teachers believe that being alone at home is the number one cause of school failure. The afternoon hours are the peak time for juvenile crime. In the last 11 years, juvenile crime has increased 48%. The Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development found that 8th graders who are alone 11 hours a week are twice as likely to abuse drugs as adolescents who are busy after school.

Unsupervised children are more likely to become depressed, smoke cigarettes and marijuana and drink alcohol. They are also more likely to be the victims of crimes. When home alone, latchkey children generally watch television, eat snacks, play with pets and fight with siblings.

Adolescents who fall under the classification of latchkey children are more likely than others of the same age group to experience feelings of rage and isolation and to express those emotions in a physically aggressive manner. While there are certainly genetic and biological factors involved in the development of an adolescent’s propensity towards acting out their feelings of rage and isolation, environment also plays a key role in this arena. Sociologists have found that many latchkey children, because they are frequently raised in dysfunctional families, are taught by example to be manipulative, secretive and unpredictable. They often instinctively develop a sense of timing and management of their emotions. These are skills that can be easily and directly used to portray a false picture of themselves and their living situation.

Making the decision: When is a child ready to be home alone? Personality characteristics, skills, and maturity are useful criteria for determining a child’s readiness to be home alone. Personality doesn’t generally change much with age, although children can learn to modify some of their reactions as they learn what is expected of them. There are some children who find it very difficult to be alone, some who need time and gradual exposure to become accustomed to being by themselves, and some who adapt easily.

The personality characteristics of the child who is ready to be home alone is a child who

– is not fearful, feels at ease in the world and is self-confident

– is calm, and is not excitable when something unexpected happens

– is outgoing and talks about his or her feelings and thoughts readily with parents and others

– admits wrongdoing, even when expecting disapproval

– has courage enough to resist pressure from friends and others.

In many communities there are activities for school-age children whose parents work and cannot be at home in the afternoon. The importance of looking into these is stressed by child development professionals. According to James Comer of Yale University, “the period between 10 and 15 years is a time when young people re-examine their attitudes and values. They are being pressured by peers. They need to be protected by responsible adults who will help them examine and counter some of these attitudes.”

The activities available vary as does the cost. Some are more popular with children than others, and some are more rewarding, but all are preferable to sitting at home in front of the television. These programmes can vary in cost or are free, depending upon the particular activity and the age of the child. All of them offer the opportunity to acquire skills and knowledge that are useful throughout life. Children who are not learning anything for hours every week are at a distinct disadvantage compared to children who are engaged in enriching activities. In the words of T. Berry Brazelton, of Harvard University: “During these all important bridge years between childhood and adulthood, kids really do need something constructive to do, and they also still need to have their activities supervised. Most of all, they need to know that their parents care about them, are involved in their lives, and have their best interests at heart.”

Unlock your full potential in the IELTS Reading section – Visit our IELTS Reading Practice Question Answer page now!

Recommended Questions:

Renewable Energy IELTS Reading Question with Answer

Latchkey Children Reading Questions

Questions 1-3 

Choose THREE letters A-H

NB  Your answers may be given in any order

Which THREE of the following statements are mentioned in the text?

A   Youth crime is no longer attributable to the economic background.
B   The greatest cause for concern is the children whose parents work the night shift.
C   Latchkey children whose parents have alcohol-abuse problems are more likely to drink alcohol when unsupervised at home.
D   The safer the neighbourhood, the lower the crime rate amongst adolescents.
E   Because of financial considerations, children from middle-class or upper-class backgrounds have more access to community activities.
F   Latchkey children are not only drawn to crime; they are victims of crime, too.
G   Expense should not be a factor in allowing children to get involved in out-of-school activities.
H   Knowing how to say no to one’s peers is a sign of an adolescent’s maturity.

Questions 4-5

Choose the correct letter A, B, C or D.

4.   The writer says that during the war,

A   children whose parents were absent from the home were better looked after than present-day children in the same situation are.
B   the country was slow to react to the problem of latchkey children.
C   the role of the housewife changed forever.
D   all wives whose husbands had gone off to fight were expected to work in the industry.
5.   According to the Census Bureau, most children were left alone

A   at night
B   in the morning
C   in the afternoon
D   all day.

Questions 6-9

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 3?

In boxes 6-9 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE               if the statement agrees with the information

FALSE              if the statement contradicts the information

NOT GIVEN    if there is no information on this

6.   Latchkey children can be experts at hiding the truth about their situation.
7.   Latchkey children leave home at a very early age.
8.   Latchkey children’s aggressive emotional responses are due principally to their biological make-up.
9.   Good communication skills are a measure of a child’s ability to be left unsupervised.

Enhance your skills in identifying information as True, False, or Not Given. Click here to discover expert strategies and techniques for mastering this question type in the IELTS Reading section.

Questions 10-14

Complete the summary.

Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer.

The Second World War gave rise to the phenomenon of the latchkey child, as mothers had to abandon their traditional duties and fill the places of men in 10 …………………………. Fortunately, there was a quick 11……………………….. to this by the authorities to help mothers so that their children would not be left at home unsupervised. However, now, so many years after the war, this type of support has disappeared and the problem of having children alone at home without 12 ………………………… is very common. These children generally perform poorly at school, display 13 ………………………… behaviour and may take up smoking and drinking alcohol. While 14 ……………………….. and level of maturity plays a part in how a child copes with being a latchkey child, experts say that the remedy for this situation is more parental involvement and interest in their children’s lives.

Boost your performance in Summary, Notes, Table, and Flowchart Completion tasks. Click here to explore our detailed guide and learn how to effectively complete summaries, notes, tables, and flowcharts in the IELTS Reading section.

Unlock your full potential in the IELTS Reading section – Visit our IELTS Reading Practice Question Answer page now!

Recommended Questions:

Renewable Energy IELTS Reading Question with Answer

Latchkey Children Reading Answers

1. Answer: A
2. Answer: F
3. Answer: H
4. Answer: A
5. Answer: C
6. Answer: True
7. Answer: Not Given
8. Answer: False
9. Answer: True
10. Answer: Industry
11. Answer: response
12. Answer: adult supervision
13. Answer: (physically) aggressive
14. Answer: personality


We hope you found this post useful in helping you to study for the IELTS Test. If you have any questions please let us know in the comments below or on the Facebook page.

The best way to keep up to date with posts like this is to like us on Facebook, then follow us on Instagram and Pinterest. If you need help preparing for the IELTS Test, join the IELTS Achieve Academy and see how we can assist you to achieve your desired band score. We offer an essay correction service, mock exams and online courses.

Scroll to Top