“Leave Your Kids at the Park” Day is SATURDAY: Spread the Word!

“Leave Your Kids…” is the slightly derogatory nickname for what is, officially, “Take Our Children to the Park…and Let Them Walk Home by Themselves Day,” which, for the record, used to be, “Take Our Children to the Park…And Leave Them There Day.”

No matter what you call it, the actual holiday is THIS SATURDAY.

WHAT IS IT? A day for kids to experience what most of us loved when WE were kids: the chance to spend free time with other kids, just goofing around, with no adults telling them what to play, how to play it, and when to eat the orange slices.

WHERE? Your local park.

TIME: 10 a.m.

AGE: Age 7 or 8 and up. (Feel free to hang out there with your kids if they are younger, of course!) Seven is the age most of the rest of the world has its kids get to school on their own.

WHAT’S THE GOAL? Many times, kids who would love to play outside don’t, because they don’t see any other kids out there. If we “re-seed” the parks with kids, by getting them all there at the same time just this once, with any luck they will have so much fun, they will want to do it…forever.

WHAT IF SOMETHING BAD HAPPENS? What if they stay home and something bad happens? Perfect safety is an illusion. We happen to be enjoying a 50-year crime low, so when our parents sent US outside, they trusted us when times were more dangerous. (And ALL crime is down, including against adults, whom we’re not helicoptering. So it’s not that kids are safe today simply because we’re locking them inside.)

HOW SHOULD WE PREPARE? Teach your kids to cross the street safely and not go off with anyone. These will go far towards protecting them. And free play will go far toward protecting them from other things, like depression, diabetes and obesity.

HOW CAN I FIND OTHER FAMILIES DOING THIS? Try going to freerangefriend.com. You put in your ZIP or Postal code and can find nearby Free-Rangers. Or make a Facebook page of your own!

NOT READY? Then go and stay with your kids! This isn’t a mandate. It’s a holiday. And if an unsupervised kid needs a Band-Aid or an Oreo — step right in! No permission slip needed!

WHERE WILL LENORE BE? I’ll be in Central Park with Peter Gray, author of the fantastic book, “Free to Learn,” which is all about how FREE PLAY is nature’s super vitamin, building their compassion, creativity, resilience, problem-solving and even entrepreneurial skills. Join us if you’re around. We’ll be at 85th and Fifth Avenue, from 10 – 11:30.

ANY OTHER QUESTIONS? Just ask. I’ll answer them in an update. – L

I'll be at 85th and Fifth for "Take Our Children to the Park" day this Saturdat at 10 a.m., with Peter Gray!

I’ll be at 85th and Fifth for “Take Our Children to the Park” day this Saturdat at 10 a.m., with Peter Gray!

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16 Responses to “Leave Your Kids at the Park” Day is SATURDAY: Spread the Word!

  1. Emily May 7, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

    Can I just add that, for families of kids who are too young to actually be left alone at the park, they can still participate with “training wheels” of sorts? Instead of hovering over their kids on the equipment, or playing WITH them, they could simply sit on a bench and read, or play on their phones, or maybe even make friends with other parents who are doing the hands-off thing.

  2. D May 7, 2015 at 2:36 pm #

    Is there anything being done to fight (legally) against families being torn apart and children placed in abusive and neglectful foster homes? A petition we can sign? Anything? What ever happened to “It takes a village? Instead of calling the cops and feeling good about yourself, with no accountability for the repercussions. Keep an eye on the kid who plays alone at the park and ask another mom to keep the other eye when you need to leave!

    If there is a petition or starting something for a ‘town hall’ Q & A for Hillary Clinton 😉

  3. A May 7, 2015 at 4:20 pm #

    What a way to announce to all the child-sex-offenders that there will be kids unattended. There should be a campaign on awareness instead!

  4. A May 7, 2015 at 4:20 pm #

    I hope this is some kind of joke, really!

  5. Michelle May 7, 2015 at 6:29 pm #

    A, I hope you’re joking, really! You actually think child molesters don’t know where to find kids? That they’re sitting around wishing someone would let kids go to the park alone so they can pounce?

    The VAST MAJORITY of child molesters (a rather small portion of the population to begin with) abuse children close to them. They don’t go prowling around public places looking for children to snatch, except in the popular imagination.

  6. Emily May 7, 2015 at 6:42 pm #

    >>What a way to announce to all the child-sex-offenders that there will be kids unattended. There should be a campaign on awareness instead!<<

    @A–We get lot of that. Here are some counter-arguments:

    1. Safety in numbers–child predators are more likely to abduct a child who's alone, not in a park full of other kids, plus the parents of the kids who are too young to be left alone at the park.

    2. Anonymity–child predators look just like ordinary adults. So, suppose a child predator went to the park on Leave Your Kids At The Park Day. Suppose every predator in town had the same idea. Each one of those predators would arrive at the park, and see other adults there, and assume that they were parents of some kid or another, or at least that they were ordinary, caring adults who'd call the police if they saw a child being harmed. So, they'd probably figure that that's not a great time to try to harm a child themselves.

    3. Stranger abductions are much less common than kids being sexually abused (or physically abused, or emotionally abused, or any combination of the three) by relatives–or even by their parents. So, statistically, those kids are safer at the park, than they would be in their own homes.

    4. Kids need unstructured time to play and explore independently, without adults–I mean, as I said before, you or I could look at a basic playground climber, and just see it as it is. A child could look at the same climber, and see it as a spaceship, or a pirate ship, or a castle, or anything at all, and it could be something different every time they look at it. When adults play with kids, it's "up the ladder/stairs, down the slide." That doesn't promote positive child development nearly as much as just letting kids be kids–because they're naturally much better at it than adults are.

    5. Kids need 60 minutes of physical activity per day, and adults need more like 30, and also have more responsibilities than kids, and therefore don't have time to hover over their kids for the required 60 minutes a day. Organized sports are all well and good, but they're financially or logistically out of reach for a lot of families, and also, kids tend to exert themselves more playing independently, because organized sports involve a lot of time standing around and waiting for scheduled start times, explaining rules, sitting on the sidelines because players have to be rotated, et cetera. In any case, the chances of kids getting abducted while playing outside without an adult, are much smaller than the chances of kids becoming obese, unfit, and unimaginative because they don't get enough time to play outside.

    6. Eventually, after eighteen years or so of Leave Your Kids At The Park Days, you'll have another day, called Leave Your Young Adult At University Day. It'll be much easier for everyone involved if you work up to it gradually. The world will include approximately the same number of bad people when your child is an adult, as it does now, but keeping kids inside their whole lives doesn't teach them how to deal with that.

  7. Buffy May 7, 2015 at 6:49 pm #

    @A, what are you going to do about bus stops, backyards, libraries, museums, school playgrounds, and any of the other billion clearly marked places where there WILL be kids? (I’m betting “bad buys” know about all those places too…..)

  8. hineata May 7, 2015 at 7:48 pm #

    Am just sick with jealousy Lenore. Central Park? And here we are, lucky to get out to the local school. .:-)

    @A – this ‘free-range” thing, which is actually just what passes for parenting in most of the world, must be catching on in the States too, if fearful types such as yourself are hooking into this site. Good going, Lenore. A, I hope you stick around for a while and learn to relax…

  9. MichaelF May 8, 2015 at 9:14 am #

    “What a way to announce to all the child-sex-offenders that there will be kids unattended.”

    Troll Alert! Troll Alert!

    And I don’t mean the sort of cute ones with the wild hair either…well, as far as we know.

    I’d do this if we were not already busy with Saturday morning activities, but with the neighborhood kids already wandering around to play, we have this most days of the week.

  10. Elin May 8, 2015 at 11:23 am #

    As a Swede I have not really paid much attention to this event as it is not relevant to me but I read this post and was shocked that it was aimed att “old kids” and not 4-6 year olds as I would have expected. Even the most protective parents would allow a 7-8 year old to go to the neighborhood park here unless the child would need to cross an extremely busy road or something like that.

    Anyway, hope you and all the kids have a great time!

  11. Diana Green May 8, 2015 at 1:12 pm #

    I turned 10 in 1950. The 50’s were called THE AGE OF ANXIETY. But I was a free ranger with scraped knees and permission to out ’til dark.

    THE REAL AGE OF ANXIETY IS NOW. KIDS AND PARENTS SCARED OF SHADOWS, FANTASIES, AND THE POLICE. THIS IS NUTS.

    Has it occurred to anyone to look for the MOTIVE behind all of this? (Yes, the ’50’s was also the era of Nancy Drew!) Who gains from the “scare scenario”? The police, surley, the district attorneys the politicians who every few months pass harsher laws against imaginary predators. Child protective. The Kid Scare has created an entire industry! The media! Slow news day? Follow the path of a 5 year old home from school and turn it into international news!

    Look! Our world is so safe there is nothing happening anywhere. People in protective services stand to be laid off if the news of “safe” gets out. In my state, New York, a rich and famous state senator has build a twenty year career by scaring the population about child abductions and axe murderers. Fortunately, he has disgraced himself by involving his his own precious child in his corruption schemes, and they are both newly under arrest. But it worked for twenty years.

    The point is, that because of all the work being done at this web site, and the publicity roll that FREE RANGE KIDS is on, the word is getting out.

    The opposition is NOT backing down. But the tide is turning against them. We will prevail.

  12. hineata May 8, 2015 at 5:39 pm #

    Well, it’s just about 10 am Saturday here….will be off shortly in my white panel van to look for all those abandoned kids at the park, lol .

    Seriously, though, on this beautiful autumn day I’m off for something way scarier and more dangerous to life and limb than random panel vans…..driving lessons with Boy. Cars, those are the real killers

  13. Jenny Islander May 9, 2015 at 2:40 am #

    It’s Take My Daughter to Her Dance Recital and Sit in the Hallway Outside the Green Room With Her Preschool Brother So Her Stuff Doesn’t Get Stolen Day for me. The green room is sized for a smallish Shakespeare production, so the littlest kids are in there and everybody else camps in the hallway outside for the evening. Are there going to be men there? Yes there will. Will my son run around in the hallway with the other little kids? Yes he will. Will he be out of my sight? Yes he will. Will he be okay? Yes he will!

  14. Becks May 9, 2015 at 4:35 am #

    Elin, it can be quite strange to realise that kids of 4 ish upwards aren’t already out at the park. I can’t speak for USA but in Scotland, UK in a pretty decent area of Glasgow I don’t know any kids going to the park alone. I know of two 10 yr olds who are not allowed to cross a dual carriageway with green man and none of my son’s friends aged 8 and 9 are allowed to go to the park which is 5 to 10 mins walk from home. I’m busy today but I’m going to leave my kids at the park as much as I can in the next week after school, weather permitting in Scotland of course!

  15. Elin May 9, 2015 at 11:01 am #

    I just want to point out that I do not think that all 4 year olds are ready to go to the park on their own, but some are. I would say that all 6 year olds are if the traffic in the neighborhood is not extreme. Having been to the UK quite a lot I would be more hesitant in some towns (not all) to allow a 4-6 year old to roam there for the sole reason of traffic as even I can find some places to be a bit scary when it comes to this.

    Here it is common to walk to school on your own if you attend the local school from about age 7 and most parents would use the year when they are 6 to teach them to do so safely by going for example to the park alone. Where I live I regularly see 3-4 year olds out with their siblings and it is common for 5-6 year olds to be outside on their own either in the playground next to their house (apartment area), the local park or in the yard outside their friends’ house. I personally feel that 5-6 is my minimum age for my daughter for staying outside on her own more than for a couple of minutes while I get dressed. Now she is 2 so I only allow her to roam within what my eyes can see at a given moment but I don’t shadow her and let her explore as much as is possible given the age.

  16. Wow... May 11, 2015 at 4:22 pm #

    @Elin:

    This is basically free-range for babies and toddlers:

    http://www.montessorisociety.org.uk/montessori/montessori-principles