Readers — Please note that this letter is not recommending a Free-Range regimen for everyone or anyone, it is just this family’s experience. But a heartening one! (Boldface, mine.)
Dear Free-Range Kids: My 10 y.o. son is an impulsive, ADHD type, also recently diagnosed with Aspergers. He’s been kicked out of several daycares and before/after school care places over the years and is often in trouble at school and on the bus (despite not giving my too much trouble at home). At the end of last school year, he got kicked out of literally the last after-school care option I had, so I decided he would ride the bus home this year. Because he’s shown such problems with discipline, I was a little nervous about the situation.
We’ve put a checklist on the fridge (call mom, lock door, do homework, wash dishes, etc). Now every day he comes home and works through the checklist, after which he can watch TV or play video games (screen time during the week has been a rarity for him in the past).
It may be optimistic to say this only a few weeks into the school year, but the change is astounding. Because he has the freedom to work at his own pace and on his own schedule without distractions, his homework has been neater and had fewer careless mistakes. And because he doesn’t want to lose the privilege of screen time, he does a much better job with his chores and is careful to do everything on his list and follow all the rules laid out for him. I think letting him ride the bus and spend the hour and a half before I get home from work has been a big win.
I’m admittedly a little nervous about nosy neighbors or well-meaning teachers finding out he’s home alone and getting involved, but I definitely think the rewards outweigh the risks. – Angela
Lenore here: I think so, too! Generally, people respond well to their loved ones trusting and believing in them. I wish you both continued success!
P.S. And regularly washing dishes? Kudos! I will show this to my own boys!