NYC Kids! Come to Central Park This Afternoon!

Hi Folks! My “I Won’t Supervise Your Kids” class begins today (Weds., Sept. 12) at 3:45 in Central Park. We’ll meet at 85th and Fifth Avenue. Any parents present will sign a waiver, “I don’t expect anyone — much less Lenore — to supervise my kids.”

And then they leave, and so do I, and the  fun begins.

Make up a game! Learn something new. Make new friends. You know — do the kind of stuff  parents got to do when THEY were kids, before everyone got so scared for kids every time they leave the house! (A misplaced fear since, I must point out again, crime is DOWN since the 70s and 80s, when most of today’s parents were allowed to play outside.)

Yes, the fee is $350 for 8 weeks. Yes, you can come and not pay a penny. Scholarships available for the asking. The more kids the merrier. How merry? Ask your parents! Chances are when they think back on their happiest childhood memories, the first thing that springs to mind is not Kumon.

Any kids reading this might also tell their folks that “free-play” (or what grownups used to just call “play”) is not a waste of time.  It may look that way because “it’s not ‘goal directed,’ and parents are,” points out Hara Marano, author of A Nation of Wimps. But in fact, “Play builds brains.” It’s nature’s supervitamin, since it builds confidence, problem-solving, health and joy, too! And maturity!

Maturity? Well, as I once wrote about play on

Think about a group of kids that gets together and has to come up with something to do. At the very least, this demands creativity: they have to create a game. So they do—say, “Toy Baseball.” Then they have to agree on how it’s played: they will use a plastic dinosaur as their bat. That just involved communication, and—probably—compromise (if one kid wanted to use Barbie as the bat instead).

Now think about a boy who strikes out and wails, “One more pitch!”

“No!” yell the other kids. “It’s not your turn anymore!” And with that, the boy has a choice: he can throw a tantrum and run off, or he can suck it up. Usually a kid wants to play more than anything, so suck it up he does, and heads to the outfield. And with that he has just learned, literally, how to play by the rules.

Play is dress rehearsal for adulthood, and, before that, for school. Think how many times a teacher has to say, “Wait your turn!” to get a kid to stop blurting out in class. At play, kids get endless practice waiting their turn. Self-control gradually becomes second nature. Schools that cut short recess think they’re adding “education time.” But play is education time.

As parents, we want to give our kids the best and lately that has meant putting them in after-school classes we hope will enhance their lives. And yet, take a look at this study!

Youngsters who are allowed to leave the house without an adult are more active and enjoy a richer social life than those who are constantly supervised, according to a study conducted at UCL.

Maybe “I Won’t Supervise Your Kids” is the most enriching after-school class out there! So come! — L.

Unsupervised play used to be what everyone just called “fun” — not “crazy.”

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17 Responses to NYC Kids! Come to Central Park This Afternoon!

  1. Ahcuah September 12, 2012 at 6:03 pm #

    Aw, man. I saw the ABC Good Morning America clip: starts with scenes from “The Lord of the Flies”, and then blurs the faces of the kids on the playground (because, as we all know, that’s how child molesters track down kids–feh) or shows only backs or faces from a great distance.

    While they are pretending to be balanced, they are just feeding the paranoia.

  2. Gina September 12, 2012 at 7:20 pm #

    I want to drop off MY kids!! But, alas, they are 15,21,23,25 & 28. And we live in Phoenix! I love this idea! But I am sad that it is necessary.

  3. Taradlion September 12, 2012 at 11:21 pm #

    How’d it go?

  4. Gina September 13, 2012 at 2:23 am #

    @LENORE: How many kids showed up? How was it? Please share!!!!

  5. MJ September 13, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

    I grew up in brooklyn and every sat my parents would give me money for the movies or to go to a pool that was bout a mile away with my friends.I now live in a small town in florida and I live about 3 city blocks away from a park which I would let my 12 year old walk to the park. one afternoon the police brought my daughter home in a cop car I found this so over done and so stupid if I didnt think that my child was not smart enough to handle going to the park but I got a lecture from the officer anyway. after his lecture was over I told him in a very nice way where he could stick it

  6. Lacey September 13, 2012 at 4:07 pm #

    73 year old woman raped in Central Park at 11:00 in the morning. Does this not scare you people? Get a clue.

  7. Cat September 13, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

    Oh brother, Lacey. Yes, that’s horrible, however, it doesn’t mean anything. I knew a person who was raped in a church parking lot, at 1 in the afternoon, in a wealthy community. Does that mean nobody should go to church? How about the children who are abused by their babysitters or their parents? Does that mean no kids should have babysitters or parents? Ok, there you go, that’s the solution. Nobody is allowed to go to church and nobody is allowed to have babysitters or parents! It’s just not safe! Come on.

  8. Lisa September 13, 2012 at 7:56 pm #

    Why does it cost $350.00. Do we pay you to do nothing. Kids can meet at the park and play for free. What is the $350.00 for?

  9. racheleh September 13, 2012 at 8:32 pm #

    That was not a random crime. That was focused on two ppl who probably had some interaction before.
    Lisa, the 350 is for those parents who feel they must pay their way for everything. As Lenore noted, every child is eligible for scholarship. In my opinion however the children will not be completly unsupervised. They will have Lenore sitting around the corner with a cell phone, and of course almost every passerby will have a cell phone, and quite probably lots of interested on-lookers. What is being overlooked in this free range stuff however is that it seems to be something of a class issue. Poor pple with two working parents read this stuff, snort a little at the navel gazing going on over this and ask little suzy to remember to pick up milk on the way home and feed the dog/sibling/grandmother with alzhiemers and oh, we both have to work late again because our job is forfeit if we don’t. (mental note, I didn’t used to believe in class issues)

  10. Lacey September 14, 2012 at 3:36 am #

    Yes Cat, I see your point. My point is, 8 year old children are defenseless against grown rapists. And FYI ladies, someone lurking around a corner watching the kids is not unsupervised play. Dropping them off and saying “Be by this lamppost at 5 pm sharp” is unsupervised play. Quit deluding yourselves.

  11. decemberbaby September 14, 2012 at 5:34 pm #

    @Lacey… know what? I’m 32 years old and *I* am defenseless against a grown rapist. Should I also be supervised at all times? Probably… except that for the most part, rapists aren’t around every corner. They’re just not.

  12. Lacey September 14, 2012 at 8:42 pm #

    December baby, You are absolutely not defenseless against a rapist, unless you choose to be. And as an adult that has been educated (hopefully) you have the ability to not put yourself in dangerous situations. I am not talking about a rapist sneaking into your home, heck if we want to use that rationalization we might as well all wrap ourselves in bubble wrap and give up life. No, what I am talking about is putting our children in situations that they can not handle. And expecting other people to parent our children when they have not asked to do so. Putting small children in a park to play, totally unsupervised and just hoping that any passing adult will deal with problems that might arise is not only rude but stupid. My mother was the free range type but she was also sensible. There is a time and a place. She certainly didn’t call the media and advertise that we were riding our bikes to the park, or that we were going down the street to buy lollipops. We just did it. Yes, we survived. Avoidable risk is what I am talking about. I am all for letting kids be kids, but turning them loose in Central Park, and then leaving them to their own devices is irresponsible. Yup, there is very little chance that they will get hurt. Even when I was a kid, my mom popped her head over the fence to see if we were ok. Nothing wrong with supervision. But you are making it seem like there will be absolutely NO ADULTS present, except for the poor fellow that decided to take his lunch break at the park, and has to step in and deal with a problem that could have been avoided.

  13. derfel cadarn September 15, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

    Lacey ,you have a victim mentality Nothing will ever make you feel safe. Life itself can be a very dangerous business mishap can lurk at every turn, but great adventure and learning and even fun can lurk behind every large rock and tree. Do you give what is good to protect yourself from the bad ? If your choice is to forgo the good I would suggest counseling. Your arguments are strawmen and there are other underlining issues.

  14. KKK September 16, 2012 at 4:24 am #

    Yeah because the Asian kids who are in sixth grade r doing eight grade math and yet they rarely play. Sure playing makes kids smart. Sure.

  15. Maegan September 20, 2012 at 11:17 pm #

    This is my favorite thing ever. Kids watching one another is, in my mind, one of the most important activities for the future of modern society. Naysayers are worried about broken arms, sophisticated abductors lurking in every shrub, and that there isn’t enough of a sense of community for this to be safe. Yes, children break bones. And, frankly, adults are just as helpless in that situation as other kids. New York City is so safe, it’s almost absurd. And it’s even safer in a group. And, gee, how do we expect to have that sense of community that would make things like this possible if we never get together?


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