Ancient Child-Locomotive Practice to Be Revived for a Day

Just a reminder: All across the country (and world!) tomorrow, parents will be encouraging their kids to try a strange ancient practice called, “walking to school.” Perhaps it is time to reach back in into the hazy mists of time and try it in your neighborhood, too!

14 Responses

  1. I know as a kid I had no wish to get up 40 min earlier to walk to school. Walking home was fine and I did that since I had all the time in the world, but waking up… FORGET it. There had better be some sweet prize at the end of that walk if I was giving up 40 min of sleep.
    I advocate sleeping in and walking home myself. Hooray for laziness!

  2. We live just too far away for my son to walk, he will have to take the bus. But I walked to elementary school everyday as a kid, even got a suprise ride from one of my friend’s moms a few times while on the way (and I wasn’t even kidnapped!!).

    I just gotta say, I LOVE your site and really want to read your book. You are like a ray of common sense in a sea of fear. Of course there are dangers our children face, but why paralize them with fear and remove them from the world simply because of a “what if”. I am 26 and I got to ride my bike all over the neighborhood, walked to school, and (gasp!) played on wooden playset with metal slides where my butt got burned a few times! I can not imagine that the world has become so much more dangerous in the last 15 years.

  3. We homeschool – but I hope it counts that my kids are out and about during the day going to parks, the library, grocery / drug store.

    My daughter (7) just picked up our mail at the post office, biked to our friends’ house to deliver homemade gummi worms we made, and is now taking her bike to the bike shop to order a replacement chain guard.

  4. Amazing, in’t it?

    Take heart, fearless Free Rangers! When the “teacup” generation grows up they will realize the freedom they were denied as children, relax the iron societal grip upon parenting…and a new generation of Free Range children will once more roam unfettered by the shackles of paranoia.

    Free Range parents and their children are the preseasonal vanguard of a hopeful trend toward greater societal independence. Raising today’s children Free Range is a vitally important element in providing an autonomic blueprint by which Free Rangers of the future will grow and thrive.

    “Generations” by William Strauss and Neil Howe gives a good description of how different eras relate to different parenting styles. We are in the midst of a Crisis now, with its attendant obsession with safety and overprotection of children. Come the Crisis resolution society will breathe a collective sigh of relief that imminent danger is now past, and parents will begin to grant their children more independence and encourage critical thinking. It’s happened many times before and will happen again, and we all play a crucial part in ensuring that the flame of just Free Ranging be kept lit until the saecular springtime.

    michelada, age 40 (<— Free Ranger by default). How I miss those days…

  5. It’s funny – here in New Mexico, we tend to get a lot of lightning storms – so I’ll pick my kids up when we get them (and yes… people do get struck here frequently enough to merit safety). It cracks me up how depressed my son will get when he can’t walk home from school.

    Another instance, we had tiny little umbrellas for them and it was just pouring. My husband and I went to the store while they were in school and bought them two new ones. We drove along their walking route and found them. Mind you, it was cold and raining and my kids had even gotten wet. When they saw new umbrellas – they wanted to keep walking home.

    They love that time they get to stroll home and I’m so happy they do.

  6. it’s so weird to me that “walking to school” is such a “foreign” concept. i have walked my 6 yo daughter to school every day that she has gone to school.

    i don’t drive (bad eyesight) so it’s a necessity for me. neighbors have literally stopped their cars and asked me thru passenger windows “so, you walk everywhere? everyday?” to which i respond, “for the most part, yes. i take public transit for other stuff more than a mile or so away but yes, we walk everywhere, everyday.”

    my 6 yo and now my 3 yo usually walk at least a mile a day. come rain or shine, snow or sleet… we just invest in the appropriate weather gear. 🙂

  7. Are they going to walk uphill both ways through five feet of snow?

  8. Oh how I wish I could share the totally wacky email a parent sent to our school listserv. It was full of accusations of “peer pressure” and “impotent ‘facilitators'” who will “rub [our talented and gifted children’s ] faces into it” even though they live in the suburbs.

    Funny thing is, the guy’s kid is in 7th grade and could easily bike to school (it’s less than 4 miles and only slightly uphill!)

  9. And those “facilitators” live in the suburbs because parents like him are so afraid of apartment buildings that they got the local councilmember to zone all the teacher-affordable housing out of the real estate market, jacking up rents even where they are allowed.

  10. Kathryn,
    You reminded me of the 2 times relatives received phone calls that their children had been abducted.

    I was driving home from Drill Team practiced, that had been dismissed early because of threatening weather (drive into the school quickly flooded so coach wanted us out before the rain started).

    I pass the JH and see young cousin trudging home. The sky is already greenblack and flash crash – it opened up to quite a gully washer. I honked and did a U turn. When I got to him I popped the door. He threw in his instrument and jumped in. I drove to were I could legally turn around (I’m maybe 1/2 a block from the police station didn’t want to do 2 illegal U turns).

    In the maybe 4 min it took to drive him home. Someone called his mom – who went into panic mode and called the cops. She had the good sense to NOT yell at me, when I dropped him off. The cops were ticked at her not me.

    Here is the kicker – we lived across the street from each other. She knew the description of my car – she isn’t a complete idiot. I was 16/17 yo and not supposed to drive with other kids in the car unless I had permission. I knew that I would not get in trouble for picking him up because of the weather. I would have lost driving privileges is my parents found out I had left him standing in a Houston thunderstorm/gully washer.

    A few years latter. Different neighborhood, different cousin (1st cousin once removed this time). Same situation cousin walking down the street, I drive past as the sky opens up. He jumps in and I take him home. We get there and his mother is cracking up laughing. 2 neighbors are ready to skin her alive. They called her to report cousin being dragged into a car (he did kind of dive head 1st). She had been in the yard and saw me when I drove past her house – she asked them if it was a red and white convertible and explained I was her cousin. They still thought I should get her approval before driving him. Yea I’m going to let him trudge home in a lightening storm.

  11. It is even sad to call it an ancient practice, we have become some thing like a maniac that our kids are missing out on lot of fun in school.

  12. My son Mark, sitting with me now as we ponder walking to school, is saying right now: “I need to walk to school by myself! Please, [Lenore], encourage my parents to let me do so!”
    Actually, we HAVE been letting him go part of the distance solo, especially since we discovered the Free-Range Kids “movement.” But perhaps we’re still too slow and cautious in letting go, so Plan B will soon go into effect … for both school and after-school football practice … involving greater distances.
    “P.S. I hope my parents let me,” Mark signs off.

  13. We live a few blocks from my son’s school and we walk to and from everyday if the weather permits. We have a great time talking to other parents, their children and the cross walk ladies.

  14. My kids walk to school every day, they want to bike, but they need every scrap of exercise they can get, so I have refused. The fun part is walking home with other kids on play dates: they sigh and moan and wonder aloud why, oh why they can’t ride in a car? When I tell them we do not own a car, they do not know how to respond😀

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