Will This Toy Get My Kid into Harvard?

Hi Readers! Here’s my piece from today’s Wall Street Journal:


Remember when a ball was just a ball? Now it is a tactile stimulating sensory aid that helps develop gross motor skills.

Really. Strolling through the international Toy Fair at the Javits Center in New York City last week was like walking through the brightly painted halls of a children’s hospital—at once cheery and sad. Cheery were the shiny bikes and busy ant farms. Sad was the way the marketers made it sound like they were peddling early intervention in a box.

Take “Baby’s First Construction Marble Raceway Set” from Rollipop—a very cute plastic set of chutes and curves that any marble would be delighted to loop through. It looked ready to delight any kid, too, and better still keep him occupied while Mommy checks her BlackBerry. But according to the box copy, this was no mere diversion. It was an educational show-stopper that “encourages hand-eye coordination,” even while “visually stimulating” the brain and developing “fine motor skills.”

Read the rest here!

That’s the Spirit!

To be filed under: Coming To, What the World Is:

From a golf course in Phoenix, where they sure know how to have a good ol' time!

Just Fun — Absolutely No Point. Just an Upper

Hi Readers!- It’s Sunday. Let’s have a little fun. We can worry about the way the world is going, but later. I, for one, needed this! — Lenore (who, yes, also also worried about her falling off the countertop. But she didn’t. So enjoy.)  

Not Relevant at All — But So Fun!

Hi Readers — Tomorrow morn will bring a posting of gravitas and import. Or at least, something relevant to Free-Range Kids. But tonight (it’s bedtime here in New York), here’s a video that I’ll be replaying in my mind tomorrow morning: A woman and her son get ready for school in FIVE MINUTES! (And I love how she makes lunch!) 

Wonder of Wonders: Kids Play Outside, Other Kids Join ‘Em

This is the kind of letter Free-Range Kids loves to see! It comes from a mom in New Mexico. Voila:

You know what I noticed in my neighborhood which really makes me so happy?

We’ve been here for 6 years and in the summer, there was one (and I mean that) one kid that would be outside playing alone.

Well, my kids finally hit 7 and 8 and I finally grew some common sense, and let them hit the street.  For a good month they were the only kids outside.  They were neighborly, too – chatting it up and getting to know “the people in our neighborhood.”

Slowly but surely, I started to notice more kids outside.  A couple on scooters, then a couple on bikes… don’t you know, that there are now around 10 kids that end up playing outside during the day? 

My daughter told me today that next door was almost like a party – all the kids were playing together and when they got hot, they’d sit in the garage.  They’re swapping bikes and scooters and having the best time.

Thank goodness… I am so delighted to know that people noticed my kids outside and started letting their kids have some freedom too.  Before – you’d think this place was void of children.  It’s so refreshing.

Just thought I’d share.  It’s becoming a blissful world in my neck of the woods.  🙂


Her advice for making this happen? Simple:


I can’t honestly say I did anything but tell my kids to be nice and respectful to the neighbors (so that meant no screaming and yelling when playing and staying out of people’s yard areas).  Outside of that, they’ve always seen me chat with neighbors when we’d walk the dog, and wave to them when we drive, so it was natural for them not to fear the neighbors, but to chat to them too.

They’re always coming home with something now – people enjoy giving them bottles of water, suckers, freezer pops… wanna talk about people freaking out over treats in school!  Ha ha!

The best advice I can give to people is get out there, get neighborly, let your kids see you doing it, let people see you with your kids so that when they’re on their own they are familiar with the parents’ faces too, even if not names, and make sure your kids are capable of being respectful, courteous, and safe.

Here’s to more stories with happy endings like this one — especially as summer beckons! — Lenore