Show Your Support!

Hi Readers — Here’s a nice note from one of you with some great ideas. Read on! And to any New York City dwellers: If you want to join me, I’ll be at the Ancient Playground at 10 tomorrow morning. That’s next to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, at 85th and 5th. Maybe see you there! Otherwise, folks, aim for a 10 a.m. meet up at your local playground, to maximize the chance that we all run into each other! — L.

Dear Free-Range Kids: Lenore is right in that if anything happens to any child at a park this weekend, probably even a child that the parent is holding on to as they go down the slide, it will be blamed on Lenore.  So I encourage all of you who comment on this site to both email your successful day to this site, and also to your local newspapers.

Flood the newspapers Saturday nightwith what a wonderful day your child had at the park playing with all of the children in their neighborhoods who they had never met before.  And if, on Sunday, they only write about the handful of bad things that happen, flood the newspapers, Letters to the Editor again. And if there is anything on talk radio, flood that with your calls too. Fear is a louder voice so we must overwhelm it with numbers.

77 Responses

  1. Done and Done.. its 12 here in Australia. My two eldest 7 & 9 girls went to the park by themselves. Walked 3 blocks, took a soccer ball and had fun. They went around 9am for 45 mins. There were no other kids there, some exercising adults, and another group they said, but they had fun just with themselves

    and came home with huge grins on their faces.

  2. I meant it is Saturday at lunch time here in Australia :)

  3. I remember hearing about your son’s adventure on the subway two years ago and thinking how great it was that you both (you and your son) trusted him enough to find his way in the big world. I live in Chicago, and am pregnant with my first child. My neighborhood has its dangers, and I’m excited to have a sort of guidebook in Free Range Kids on how to teach that child how to deal with those dangers and other issues as s/he grows.

    Thank you so much for your work, and for empowering parents and kids. I’ll be rooting for you and for all of the other free range families tomorrow!

  4. Great idea! Darn tootin’ I’ll email them! :D

  5. I’m probably like many, in the balance between 100% free-range and scared. My munchies (12 & 13) have been able to go to the park without me (3 blocks away) for a year, but only if they go with a buddy. That seems like basic Scout protocol. In our neighborhood I’m not so worried about child snatchers as I am about which doofus might bring a gun to the park. And even that, in my most rational moments, is stupid, but worth adding into the calculations. Tomorrow, #1 has an engagement, and #2 (who’s gone to the park with a buddy several times) isn’t going because she’s busted for extreme sassiness. More power to all who let the munchkins roam!

  6. My children are one and three. I’ll be enjoying this day of a FULL PLAYGROUND and yes, watching out (gasp) for kids who aren’t my own. ;) Of course… we’re in Germany now. Happy normal life day everyone!!!

  7. Post links here and we can all go comment. Look forward to hearing the positive comments…

  8. I’ve always thought it would be funny if famous people turned the tables and started taking pictures of the paparazzi when they are trying to take pictures of them.
    Although you have protected your kids privacy, it might be fun to arm them and ALL of their friends with cameras.

  9. But unfortunately, the kids photographing the newsmen would take away from their fun unless their idea of fun is to tease the news media. :)
    I hope this catches on better than International Smile Day did. I used to greet everyone on World Hello Day before people got so paranoid.

  10. Just in time for TYKTOPALTT Day, word just arrived by satellite phone a couple hours ago that 13 year old American Jordan Romero has become the youngest person to ascend Mt. Everest. He took the far more challenging, deadly and less commonly used Tibetan route for the ascent.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100522/ap_on_re_as/as_china_everest_boy

    This is his sixth of seven of the tallest mountains on every continent he has climbed.

    According to the detractors, Jordan is not old enough to be left alone for 15 minutes at a playground, and according to at least one big city lawyer in New York, the police would be justified in arresting his parents for negligence if they were to do so.

    And yet here he is, on top of Mt. Everest, right now, at this very moment.

  11. Yes, and a week before Jordan Romero’s feat we here in Australia had Jessica Watson, who at age 16 has just completed a solo, round-the-world sailing trip. http://www.jessicawatson.com.au/

    Here inspiring words when she arrived home: “People don’t realise … what girls are made of,’’ she said. ‘‘When you take away those expectations, it’s amazing what you can achieve.’’

    She pointed out in her speech at Sydney Harbour that 16 year olds are capable of so much, if only they are given gradual increases in responsibility and challenge.

    We took our 6 yo to a modified “play at the park” today here in Australia (only left him 10-15mins and we were within walking distance). But we’ll keep giving him responsibility and asking him to use his initiative in coming years. Happy Day at the Park!

  12. I’ve never considered that my husband and I were freerange parents but I guess we are. My children are too young to be left alone for any period of time but when we do go to the park, they are left to their own devices while we find a nice spot to sit and talk. We try to choose a position that is close enough that we can see and hear them if they yell but not so close that they are constantly requesting help. They are encouraged to keep trying until they are able to conquer obstacles like climbing the ladder to slide. I feel that this is the beginning steps of them learning how to solve their own problems.

    Funny enough, as my husband and I watch our kids play, our conversations usually turn to how other parents are playing with our kids for us. I’ve had to step in at least once or twice to reassure that we are there or to nicely request the parent allow my child to play without assistance.

    If we did not have plans already for today we would be at the park for sure.

    I hope all goes well and that there are lots of kids out today.
    Have Fun!!!

  13. Well, it’s raining here today. And while I honor Justin Romero’s feat, he hasn’t made it until he makes it back to base camp. The descent can be deadly, too.

  14. It’s supposed to rain all day here :P, but more importantly I am stuck at the infertility clinic all morning and we have to spend the afternoon visiting elderly relatives in the hospital :(

    But on Monday (Victoria Day — no school or work!) DD and I will be going to a local park to walk in the ravine, check out the frog pond, and maybe climb some trees … And I definitely plan to let her out of my sight ;)

  15. My daughter is only 1 year old, so I won’t be sending HER to the park by herself, but I hope to see other young ones out and about today enjoying the sunshine (and freedom). Thank you, Lenore, for the great idea!! Give us about 6 years and my daughter will be out there!

  16. Here’s a blog post about “Take our Kids to the Park Day” that looks pretty positive at Reason.com:

    http://reason.com/blog/2010/05/22/its-take-our-children-to

  17. Alright everyone – get out there and have fun!!
    My kids, I am proud to say, don’t need a special day to go to the park alone. They do it all the time. It took years to build up to that point. I let them go a little farther and a little longer as I learned to trust that they knew how to trust themselves. Lenore and this site gave me the last push into true free-rangeness. Thank you Lenore!!

  18. I have another suggestion thatbsome people might consider anti-free range, but I don’t think so.

    If you are one of the many readers whonsaid you liked the idea, but your kids are too young? Go to the park anyway! While you’re letting your 2-6 year old do what they please under loose supervision, you can simultaniously be an extra adult. You know, the stranger kids CAN run to if something bad DOES happen.

    I think we who comment on this site can often forget that our children’s saftey isn’t just determined by the lack of child preditors. It’s also the nosy lady down the street who tattles to you when your kid is doing something idiotic (much preferable than callin the cops). It’s the man down the street who stands protectively behind your kid when an (probably harmless) unfamiliar car stops to chat. In our dislike of people who should be minding their own business, I think we forget that we don’t necessarily WANT them to mind their own business. We want them to share it. So please go to the park. These 7 year olds left at the park don’t need a parent for the hour that they’re there, but it seems like a neighbor would ne a step in the right direction.

  19. Can’t do the park thing today, my 8 year old daughter has an all day event at Girl Scout camp, but I did leave my 6 year old son in the car while I went into the local library to check out your book :) I had to reserve it a few weeks ago, there was a wait for it! As soon as we got home my son was whisked away by neighborhood kids so I probably won’t see him for a couple of hours, looks like I have a lazy Saturday afternoon to do some good reading :)

  20. Took my 10 & 12 yo boys to the park today. Of course they requested one that is about 15 miles from home, but it is a really cool wooden play fort type. When I picked them up (I was garage saleing), they were wet up to their knees and beaming.

  21. It’s RAINING. Like, wickedly. LIke, our afternoon little league game may be called on account of it. So we didn’t do it. BUT – my kids go to the park on their own without me all the time. :D

    Rock on to those of you who participated!

  22. My older kids are finishing up spring sports today so they could not partake. They go to our local park with friends on their own all the time though so it would be no big deal for them. However, in honor of Leave Your Kids at the Park Day, my 6 y.o. spent the day playing with his best buddy on the sidewalk in our neighborhood in front of our house… all by themselves. They raced matchbox cars. They drew with chalk. They made up a primitive marble game.

    They have both been well trained by their moms to know that if anyone in a car… or anyone else they don’t know, slows down and seems to be paying attention to them, all they need to do is run in the house. I told them it’s OK to be a bit rude in that circumstance.

    We’ll finesse that rule as they grow older and can handle more details. That said, both boys had an amazing time today in our own personal “Leave Your 6 Year old on the Sidewalk In Front of Your House Day.” Surely, with this slow progression toward independence, they will be ready for prime time by age 7 or 8. This isn’t the first time they’ve done this btw.

    Best part was that our dog sat in the front door window and, on his own volition, watched them for me the entire time. What a great dog!!!

  23. On Meagan’s comment, I totally agree. One of the best things about my older kids being free range is that they know, and I know that there is a vast network of parents in our town who know them and who won’t hesitate to come to their aid (or call me) if there is some sort of problem. I also would do that same for any kid I saw around town, particularly if I knew their parents even remotely. There is also a vast network of other free range kids their age so they are seldom without a group of at least 3 or 4.

    My young teenager actually isn’t too thrilled about it b/c he has been busted by “other parents” a couple of times being “unwise” – not really bad… just a couple or instances of less than stellar judgment. He calls this “vast parent network” The Borg. He thinks we all have some sort of mind meld.

    It’s great, but it requires a really close nit community.

    One program that has really helped spawn some free range mentality in our area is Safe Routes to School. We have funding for intersection improvements, an insane amount of crossing guards and walking school buses for younger kids. The latter has been fabulous. Parents get to know and trust each other, and they take turns monitoring the walking school bus. Parents also get more comfortable with letting their kids go to school without them. Kids learn the rules of the road and become familiar with the route. By the time they are 9 or 10 almost all of the walking school bus kids are making their own way to school.

  24. Whoa. Read the comments at Reason. What a bunch of wingnuts. Sorry if anyone there is a regular. But wow.

  25. Well my kids (8 and 9) walked themselves to the park behind their school (about .5 miles from home) – stayed for an hour and a half – then walked back.

    They said they had fun, they were the only ones there, and they felt a little lonely. That’s it as they have now gone upstairs to play. :D

    Quite uneventful, absolutely zero problems, and one more notch on my sanity belt.

    Before they left, they were told they stayed together no matter what, if anyone was acting inappropriately just to come home, and to be home at 1pm. My 9 year old goes (ready for responsibility time?) “Well that’s easy, we’ll just leave 30 minutes before that way we can walk home without rushing.” I’m completely delighted.

  26. @Elizabeth: Those comments had me cracking up so much. Seems like most of them are in the right place, but they’d sure give the nay-sayers fuel for the non-free-range fire. lol

  27. We did it! My 4 and 6 year old were just fine. I dropped them off and went to the grocery store. Can’t wait to do it when I really have a long list — was so much more fun for them and me. They get to play and I get to shop in peace.

  28. We had a swim meet today. We walk over as it is two blocks away. My 7 yo forgot his yoyo so he walked home alone to get it. I had one adult comment on seeing my son alone at 7:30 am. Another boy asked me why I didn’t walk him home. I said he is capable of walking a 4 block round trip alone.

    So that is my “free rangeness” for the day. Park tomorrow.

  29. I took my boy, left him for a while and when I returned he had made a new friend! I had fun too: http://bit.ly/9ESclJ

    Cheers!

  30. my seven and nine year old went to the park three blocks away by themselves for a bit this afternoon. This is not a new thing to them. We live in a neighborhood full of kids, literally all over the place but today mine were all alone at the park in the middle of the neighborhood. It’s bright and sunny so this was unusual but they enjoyed the freedom as always.

  31. tottaly forgot about this event! But our daughter’s friend called and she walked over to play so it was still a free-range day!

  32. As parents its (crucial) that we create safe situations for our children to run , explore, socialize and create. Free Range with limitations according to age is a special part of growning up. Mine turned out great! I have two one is a freshman in highschool and one is a Freshmen in college. My kids are confident, independent ,and physically fit . They are life long close friends. I’m positive that this is because they spent hours together and with other kids, building forts, playing kick the can , fishing, sking, surfing, riding bikes, swimming and countless other activities. All this quality activity time over the years and never a request to play video games.
    The Free Range concept works!

  33. Big fun! Son didn’t go to the park because he’s at a weekend Scout campout. I think that counts. Besides he’s been to the park by himself before. Daughter is still a little youngish to be totally alone, so I took her to the park and walked the path while letting her explore where she wanted, but able to come back and find me easily as needed. Awesome – no problems, and everyone had fun. We always see lots of kids playing in the park here in Lexington, Ky., with or without adults, so there aren’t a lot of waves to make. But that’s a good thing. :)

  34. Ha! I had no idea till now that it was Leave Your Kids at the Park Day, but, I participated anyway.

    My youngest (age 10) wanted to go to the water playground. I dropped her there while I went grocery shopping, came back when I was done.

    Both my girls go to the park on their own often. I think it’s healthy for them.

  35. Went to the park with the 2 year old, but didn’t hover (even though she could have possibly fallen off the structure). Much more pleasant than the woman who had to be within inches (inches!) her 3 year old on the structure, climbed all over it and had to go down the slide behind him.

    Mind you, the slide is perhaps six feet long, has “bumps” so you can’t go very fast, and goes right into that bouncy-tire-floor-material. Even the 18 month old was going down it unassisted.

    Did have a moment where I thought the 2 year old had wandered off, but she had just climbed up onto the picnic table bench and was sitting beside me. :o)

  36. Edna, I must admit to going down the slides behind my son when he was younger, but not because I was worried about him, but because I thought it was FUN! :-)

  37. My daughters ( almost 7 & 9) went to the park by themselves today because that’s what they usually do on a Saturday. The only incident occurred when I and my 5 year old twins rode our bikes over to let them know it was time to come home. One of my boys was hit by a softball that got away from the adults playing in the next field. He was fine, the adult who hit him came over to check on him and apologize, and we went on with our day without the police or any lawyers becoming involved. The world might be a rational place after all.

  38. My daughter had a friend over today and both walked to the park. Totally uneventful as my daughter does this all the time. There are always other people at the park because it has all kinds of sports fields so there’s bored siblings and parents around. She usually finds someone she knows.

  39. Hi! I’m an American expatriate living in the amazingly safe city of Hsinchu, Taiwan. We live on the campus of the school where we work, and I let my almost 5 year old go to the park by herself. I know sometimes other parents give me weird looks, but I love it.

  40. We were rained out here in MI, so we are going to try again for tomorrow! Hopefully, we will have some good news to report!

  41. We had a great park day today. My five kids aged 12 down to 4 walked/biked/scootered to the park by themselves. The oldest goes to the park with friends quite a bit without me. They love to try and catch snakes. After a while I walked to the park to bring them drinks. My daughter said “Mom it is take your kids to the park and leave them day….so leave.” I went off to talk to another mom. My kids ended up walking home by themselves too. My six year old was pretty proud of himself.
    They all had a great day and were nice and tired tonight.

    Kelly in Colorado

  42. I sadly couldn’t participate, my son is 3 AND it was raining all day. I’m glad to hear everyone else had a wonderful time! Give us a couple years and we’ll be participating too.

  43. My 11 year old LOVED it! Played with two friends of his for hours. It was raining and he got good and muddy. He come home exhausted but full of stories about his day! Thanks so much, Lenore!

  44. About a year ago we tried to visit Ancient Playground, and were very disappointed that it was closed for construction. What is the new playground like? Are there still pyramids?

    Upstate in Albany our local police ran a bike safety and repair workshop, which was a wonderful way to promote Free Range. Serious bike accidents are definitely a REAL threat around here, and it was great to see this addressed in a positive way, rather than “Keep your kids off the roads.”

    Unfortunately, once again, it took kicking my youngest out the door to get him off his video games. He has no desire to roam freely, so his “day at the park” was spent on our front sidewalk.

  45. anybody hear from Lenore?

  46. I had a free range sighting. I was at the Farmer’s Market. A group of 5 kids from about 11 – 3 yo were getting their own breakfast from a vendor. The youngest two stayed at their table holding it while the oldest 3 picked up their food.

    A little while later the 2nd youngest tripped and skinned his knee. It was bloody and dirty. A vendor handed the oldest some paper napkins and a cup of water to clean it. Another lady walking by dug in her purse and pulled out some band aids for the little boy. She handed them to the oldest and walked on.

    I’ve seen them on other days. Their parents will give the oldest three money and send them to different farmers stalls to purchase what they need.

  47. It was raining at 10am, but a bit later in the day my kids looked out the window and saw some new neighbors one house over moving in – and there was a girl in purple on a bicycle! They hurried over to say hi, and she turns out to be in grade 2, while mine are in grade 1 and 3.

    They all walked over to our neighborhood park together, and played for a while there by themselves, and then walked up the road to a local cul-de-sac to ride bicycles.

    I love it – more kids in the neighborhood.

  48. I think we cheated. We bought 4 tickets for a minor league baseball game and my 10 daughter invited a friend. After we found our seats, Ihanded them a $20 bill and told them they were responsibile for getting their own snacks and other goodies. While I and my husband sat watching the game, the two of spent their time enjoying the freedom. Turns out they even spent a little time going in and out of the turnstiles when they found out the 4 millionth visitor would get a prize!

    I say we cheated for 2 reasons. We’ve been doing this, buying and extra ticket for a friend and letting the two wander the park, since my daughter was around 7 years old. Also it was not the neighborhood playgroung. However, for the playground, I’ve been trying to get her to ride her bike over without me for about 2 years now. We’ll keep working on that one!

  49. My kid is too young to range free. While at the Farmer’s Market, I did leave her with the music for a few minutes while I went and picked something up but that was kinda cheating since she was with a friend who was right next to her grandmother’s booth so, while I didn’t ask her to look after mine, someone was watching the friend.

    I did overhear a great conversation while listening to the music. Two acquaintances ran into each other. One asked the other how old her kids were now (kids no where in sight but had been in and out of the music area). The second said that they were 7. The first asked where they were and the second just kinda shrugged her shoulders and said running around here somewhere.

  50. Things went great here in Alaska. It was a bit rainy but the kids went to the park by themselves anyway. No one got hurt, no one got kidnapped, everyone had fun and came home wet and hungry!!!! Thanks for organizing it.
    wendy

  51. Hey Lenore,

    Good work on your campaign. I would have loved to be there in NYC yesterday. Look forward to speaking with you next week. You’ve inspired me to kick off another campaign. You can read about it at http://playgroundology.wordpress.com

  52. I didn’t take my kid (age 9) to the park – I made him ride his bike there, and stop off and pick up a friend on the way. And he did. And he had fun. And when he was ready, he came home.

  53. I love this idea! I’m a gramma and all of our kids are free range. Saturday the 9 year old went by himself to his friends house to play outside (touch football). His buddy lives at the other end of the block. Our kids have been going to the playground by themselves since they were old enough to find it. LOL
    They cruise their bikes all over the neighborhood together with friends.
    I raised my children as free range kids, my grandkids are getting the same privileges. Makes them all happier, healthier and wiser.

  54. Participated in spirit with family visiting w/3 y/o nephew at park, so we didn’t leave him alone. But I’ve wanting to add my experience of growing up in NYC. I don’t even recall a time when I was deemed “old enough” to play on my own, I just always did. I lived in Peter Copper Village / Stuyvesant with lots of great playgrounds and TONS of kids around. And those were the days before rubber mats, but we survived just fine.

    I also took public transit as a kid, buses and subway, usually with a friend, and certainly walked all over Manhattan, especially the Village (more as a teen) with not one scary story to tell!

    I have a teenage step-daughter now who is scared to go on public transit alone and it just makes me so sad. Thanks Lenore for helping kids to regain the freedom that we had, it’s a movement for sure!

  55. Well, that was depressing. Our park- on a military installation- was empty. It was the first sunny day in like, forever. What a bummer. I actually called the social services to see if we were missing some huge event. Nope. It’s actually like that often here- empty parks. Luckily we have some neighborhood kids that are often out. Lenore, you are really doing something good for our society. No park should be empty on a sunny day.

  56. We weren’t able to get to the park today. We blew up a bouncy & let DD and 3 friends jump around while I worked inside. Does that count?

    After dinner they all went next door to one of the girls’ house to watch a movie. I was a little bit nervous because the parents don’t speak English well, I haven’t known them long at all and DD has food allergies. But DD ran into our house to get snacks for herself (no prompting from me).

  57. We didnt leave our daughter at the park, she’s 3, but after showing her how to go up the slide by herself, she and some other little boy played happily for awhile while we sat down and watched and sweated (it was crazy humid here yesterday!). She seemed to have a great time and we practically had to drag her away when it was time to leave. Although in her defense, it’s been raining outside for so many days/weekends, this was the first time this spring we’ve been able to make it to the park.

  58. Done and done. Dropped my 7 and 10 yo sons off, bought groceries, took groceries home, and went back. 45 minutes. A short period of time not because of predators or getting hurt but because my 10 yo son tends to think he’s too old for the park and gets bored. Sure enough the dorks were twisting each other on the baby swings when I got there. They had a “great” time and much better than the “boring” grocery store.

  59. We were rained out.

    Later in the day (after the rain) my dd was over at some friends’ house (sisters) and they all scootered over to the nearby park and along the bike trails– in the woods… near a creek… They had fun, of course. They were ages 14, 13, 10, (and the little brother) 7. Fun times, but nothing out of the ordinary for us.

  60. I live in a fairly high density neighborhood of apartment buildings, with a public school. several parks.

    And it’s pretty low income, not because there’s a criminal element but because this is a place where newcomers to the country often wind up living till they get their feet on the ground.

    And it’s utterly crawling with kids. Not in a bad way. But there’s families, with grandparents, and kids not sheltered or tucked away and hidden.

    They go to school and back by themselves. They go to the market with their younger siblings in tow. They’re all over the playground and when the free pool opens for the summer, they’re in it from sunrise to sunset.

    every day here is free range. There may certainly be some adults within hollering range,for assistance but largely, once the kids are around 7 or 8, they’re not ushered about like little emperors.

    It’s quite nice. Noisy, but nice. I hope more people are motivated to do this. I got into a heated discussion with some detractors who think kids MUST absolutely be supervised at ALL times till they’re 18. That you “protect the gift!”

    oh,and a few months ago, the police dropped off some 300 bikes to the community’s low income kids. So we really make them able to roam.

    i know who’ll have the better summer, and upside: because we have so many kids, we also have an ice cream van on the route. Score!

  61. The best advice I can or have ever given to any mommy (speaking from a few decades of experience) is to let go and let your kids explore the world they’re in. It’s the only way they have to finally figure out what they want to be. Makes them responsible for themselves and each other. They gain more confidence and self esteem. Best of all, you, the moms and dads, gain more confidence in your child’s abilities. It’s all good!

  62. Hope you had a great day. I was supporting you in the UK, and our children had a fantastic afternoon running around a sports field while we prepared in a hall, alongside, for a party. All children (aged 22 months to 7 years) happy, slightly overheated (yay, summer has arrived) and the worst that happened was a grazed knee. Hope all went well in NYC and around the US.

  63. Great job – keep up the good work!
    I am an American living in Calgary Canada and I just heard your interview on the radio. I grew up a very free range kid and believe strongly in community. Today’s society, in North America especially, community has been lost. I hate, really hate, fear based decisions, yet that is the basis for how our government, schools, businesses and parents make decisions. Fear of being sued, fear of blame, fear of change, fear of responsibility, fear of the “unknown.” Why do we believe that life is supposed to be easy, perfect, safe? Protecting our children from the reality of life is not loving them.
    It’s criminal, in my opinion, that one bad experience has been given the right to spoil everyone’s experience. Schools used to be a place to develop community. Now with Privacy laws the schools can’t even share a list of names of the children in my child’s classroom! Even if we say they can!!! This type of fear is destroying our world and causing more harm than good.
    Why is it more important that each individual in the US has the right to own a gun than the right to know their neighbor? The US is the ONLY industrialized country that does not have gun control.
    I’m with you all the way – get out – get connected and let your kids learn how to make friends, how to deal with disappointment and take responsibility for their own actions and live!

  64. Didn’t play in a park, but when I was at Target I let my eight year old daughter and her friend go to the bathroom by themselves, instead of stopping my shopping to go with them. I did tell them not to wander. I didn’t fear for their safety, but I didn’t want them nagging me to buy stuff they found. They found me in the store both in one piece, even after move locations.

  65. Rained out in Grand Rapids. We went to a movie on Saturday. Yesterday, however, we took the 4 year old grandboy, spontaneously, up to Traverse City. He spent the entire day hip-deep in the bay, finding shells, climbing rocks, drawing in the sand with sticks, sort of learning how to skip rocks… with me and Papa not crowding him, or hovering. The water was amazing! And I seriously plan to spend may long weekends up in that area this summer, letting him explore the woods, and the beaches, and the old, metal playgrounds (with see-saws, taaaaallll slides and looooong swings littering the beaches. Soooo many kids out on the beach and in the wonderful shallow bay water yesterday, many with parents, eh, around… watching from the sand or from their boats. Awesome! Relocation to come…

  66. Don’t want to hijack the post, but I had to comment on sarah eden’s comment. I don’t see a parallel between knowing your neighbors and gun control. Yeah, it’s silly that you can’t sign a waiver to be in a directory. But you can also go knock on your neighbor’s door and meet them. Saw a cool link today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nf1OgV449g Why Switzerland has the lowest crime rate in the world.

    As for Saturday, we had a great day at the park as my 4yo climbed on a jungle gym a hundred yards away, and we (4,2, and baby) all went wading in the creek. Can’t wait to hear how things went in NYC.

  67. So, it wasn’t the park, and it wasn’t Saturday, but on Friday night, my kids and my friends’ kids (ages 11, 9, 8 and 7) walked a mile or so through our suburban town to get ice cream. The eight-year-old is medically fragile; she had five organs transplanted last August, and is currently on chemo for a cancer resulting from transplant. But right now, she is strong and healthy and ALIVE, so why not let her live a bit? They had a cell phone and could call if they needed us. And they had a great time, we had a great time, and all was well. (disclaimer: they didn’t walk home alone; we met them at the ice cream place because we wanted some too!)

    And on Sunday, the 11, 9 and 7 year olds explored Ikea on their own (quietly and respectfully) while we, the parents, looked at boring things like kitchen cabinets and desks (the 8 year old would have been there too, except she’s too immunosuppressed to be around that many people). Cell phones didn’t work inside the building, so we just relied on the old-fashioned “plan to bump into you later” approach. No pre-arranged meeting place or time. Once again, all was well.

  68. Unfortunately, Saturday was a (very rare) full weekend day for us. However, my older son was lucky enough to have a TYKTPLTT moment. After my younger son finished soccer sign-ups, he was famished, and we planned to stop a couple blocks away to grab him something to eat before we made our next stop. My older son (who is 11) was still playing on the playground, and was decidedly unhappy about having to leave. So I decided we would leave him there to play while we grabbed his brother some lunch, and he agreed he would leave without a fuss when we returned for him. My husband was very uncomfortable with the idea (he is decidedly not free-range, but I’m working on him), but the fact was, there were other kids at the playground, and the three baseball fields adjacent to the playground were filled with parents and kids (Plus the park is in the middle of a military family housing complex). We were gone about 15 minutes, and when we returned, my son was not only safe, but happy, and ready to go without a fight (which is a rare and joyous occasion these pre-teen days).

  69. Had a wonderful, successful experience on Saturday, I sent my 8-year old to the park/playground down the street by himself. He made up a few games (and played in the sandbox, which he hasn’t done in years, partly b/c I hate the sandbox, ha). He had a great time, wore a watch so he’d know when to come back, and was walking back up the hill exactly when he said he would be. He was down there for about 45 minutes, total. We hadn’t managed to arrange for him to go with other kids–that’s the next step!

    Anyway–big success here. Thanks.

  70. We couldn’t get ours to a park as we were at an activity day organised by the school PTA, which was at a local scout camp.

    And actually the whole afternoon was free range. My girls (6 and 8) were off with their friends and disappearing into the woods or over to the other side of the campsite for long stretches of time. Occasionally I’d ask a passing child if they’d see one of mine, and usually got told “she’s with Daniel playing football” or “she’s playing with Izzy and Natalie near the shop”.

    There were other groups at the site and an open gate at the front, but they knew to stick with friends and take care of each other. They also knew where the adults were if any child hurt themselves (the worst we had was a skinned and bruised knee from falling on a sharp rock.

    They had a ball, and we had a really relaxing afternoon.

  71. Does this judge have ANY idea how chaotic it is sometimes to work with a large group of children?? Kids are left outside or in time out fairly frequently by teachers and day care workers, and while that’s not something to boast about on your resume, it DOES happen. Twenty little children, talking, running about, shouting, jumping around makes for a good scenario in which a child can be left behind. I am an elementary teacher, and because of this reality, I do a head count throughout the day, just to make sure I haven’t left anyone behind on the playground or in the bathrooms. NO ONE is perfect, and no one like this deserves to be put on a registry, for God’s sake. Why doesn’t the legal system focus a little more on teachers who are sleeping with their students, or some similar dastardly act?

  72. Not a parent yet, but I was at the park on Saturday evening & enjoyed sitting with my friends, watching dozens of kids play. (I suppose there are some who would find that creepy!) We admired the bravery and exploits of all the running, jumping, climbing and other fun that was going on– and we all agreed that the parents who were allowing them to play without intervention were making good choices!

  73. I just noticed the that Lenore posted the park where she will be. I grew up at that park!!!! I have super fond memories of it. In fact, I went to the local public elementary school nearby (yay PS. 6) and i remember on our lunch breaks in 4th, 5th, and 6th grade my friends and I would head over to that playground – by ourselves! – and play until lunch was over. All we needed was a note from our parents letting the school know that we were allowed to leave at lunch. It was awesome! that was back in the mid- 80’s and i know that NYC is safer now than it was then. I wonder if the kids are still able to do that? My sister and I would also walk about 16 blocks on our own to music school too. no problems ever. I am a full supporter of free range!

  74. Lenore, Just found you and heard about your book “Free Range Kids” through my husband. We have two boys, 4 and 6. We love your message and fully support your ideas and suggestions. Too bad you got so much flack from people after accomplishing a huge goal in your family and for your son that day he rode the subway. We find that as we allow our boys to do things on their own, their confidence and self-esteem is growing and then filters into other areas – i.e. ordering their own meals in restaurants, trying new things, speaking with confidence to other adults. We are fortunate. We live in a small neighborhood where we know and trust all of our neighbors. There is a playground just around the bend. And, I do allow both boys to ride their bikes there on their own to play with their friends – as do the other moms. It is fun to see them succeed in their independence. It gives them something we as parents can’t really give them – self-reliance. I know we will continue to raise our boys free- range. Thank you for the encouragement and support.

  75. I am research critere that make neighbourhoods child-firendlya nd family friendly (form a Planning Perspective) and the mother fof a very active 5 year old.
    I have come accross a great article called Children’s neigbourhoods, social centres to ‘terra incognita’, by Claire Freeman (Children’s Geographies, 8(2), May 2010, p157-176) that looks at the extent to which spacially dispersed lives adversely effect local social connections. It is freemans references Francis and Lorenzo (2006) in stating that this generation of child lives and over-controlled and over-structured exitance. I just thought I would lend an academic perspective to this discussion. I am all for the free-range child.
    Aadial

  76. According towards the science discovery,

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