As Recently as 1979, A First Grader Could…

Hi Folks! Just saw this wonderful child development reprint,  courtesy of writer Christine Whitley on a blog called ChicagoNow. She reprinted it from a series of books published in 1979, just one generation or so ago, called, “Your ___-Year-Old.” Each book provided a little checklist of  the milestones the average blank-year-old would have reached.

So, for a six-year-old, in addition to having a couple of permanent teeth and knowing left from right, the book asks:

Can he travel alone in the neighborhood (four to eight blocks) to store, school, playground, or to a friend’s home?

What a reality check! Can we all pause to remember that the very thing that terrifies so many parents today — a simple walk around the neighborhood — was not something reserved for kids age 10 or 12 or 15 just a generation ago? It was something that first graders did. And presumably those first graders got some practice as kindergarteners!

So when parents gasp at the idea of their kids crossing the street, walking to school, or playing at the playground unsupervised (!), kindly remind them that this is not a mission to Mars we’re talking about, it is a mission the average 6-year-old could handle with aplomb back in 1979.

You might even add that this was back when the crime rate was higher then than it is today. Or just shut up about the crime rate and let it sink in that they are treating their whatever-year-old as less competent than a first grader. — Lenore

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