Presenting: A Short Free-Range Kids Film!

Hi Folks! This is a documentary done by Carla Reid and Franny Plumridge, two university students who were raised in the country 16,000 kilometres apart (Carla in Australia, Franny in Canada), but both encouraged by their parents to actively explore and experience their world. Their rural Free-Range upbringing and shared passion for filmmaking inspired them to investigate the important issue of overprotective parenting in a documentary film. ‘Playtime’ explores raising Free-Range kids in this wonderful, seductive, and fast-paced technological world. The film was produced for Documentary Production,  Ryerson University 2012:

Carla Reid – Director, Cinematographer & Co-Editor

Franny Plumridge – Producer & Co-Editor

Playtime from Carla Reid on Vimeo.

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19 Responses to Presenting: A Short Free-Range Kids Film!

  1. Warren May 8, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

    Fantastic job by these ladies!

  2. Laura Fram May 8, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

    I cried when I watched this video. I am a Free Range Mom of a 4 year old girl. Yesterday my daughter was at gymnastics practice and I was talking with one of the other mothers who said that she is going to try to convice her daughter to switch sports because she is worried about her hurting herself at gymnastics.

    Danger is all around us, oh wait that isn’t reality. Our children need to spend time in nature, they need to spend time figuring things out for themselves. I am lucky, a short car drive away there is a newer old school park that I take my daughter to. My daughter knows that if she leaves the park and she doesn’t need a bath then there was a problem. I let my daughter hang upside down.

  3. anonymous this time May 8, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    So grateful to see this film. Thank you to the filmmakers for acknowledging just how important and integral free-play and autonomy are for all of us… especially children!

  4. Andy May 8, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

    Better get a copy before someone puts a warning label on it saying that it’s “not suitable for modern kids”, like they did on the Sesame Street videos.

  5. Lauren May 8, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

    I need more Free Range Parent friends. I’m tired of getting funny looks when my toddler falls down or my preschooler gets filthy or I have no clue where my school-aged kids are. We really need to start a “find a free range parent”. I’d like to associate with more like-minded families.

    I’m on the Seattle Eastside if anyone in the neighborhood is interested in a play date!

  6. Donald May 8, 2013 at 7:19 pm #

    @ Laura Fram

    “Danger is all around us, oh wait that isn’t reality.”

    That’s the best one that I have heard for a while. Well done!

  7. Donald May 8, 2013 at 7:32 pm #


    Excellent film!

    Will you put a link on your blog so that I can always find this video? This post may be hard to find in 6 months or 2 years. However I always want to be able to find this film again.

  8. namastemama May 8, 2013 at 11:45 pm #

    I cried too and I have free range kids.

  9. Emily May 9, 2013 at 12:14 am #

    I loved this film, but it was so sad. Imagine, a healthy kid thinking he’s not capable of climbing a tree. When I was a kid, we learned how to climb trees by….climbing trees. The same general principle applied to the monkey bars at the park, and to bike riding, ice skating, Rollerblading, swimming, and every aspect of childhood. Nobody was born knowing how to do these things, so we tried until we could do it, and if we couldn’t do it, we’d move on to something else instead. By the way, Laura Fram–what sport did the other mother at gymnastics want her daughter to switch to? What sport does she think is perfectly safe? I’d hate her to pull her daughter out of gymnastics, and put her in, say, soccer, only to repeat the same process when the kid gets hit in the face with the ball or something.

  10. Steve May 9, 2013 at 12:41 am #

    Excellent Free Range Video!!!

    Anyone new to Free Range Kids – or anyone wanting more Free Range videos to send friends or helicopter public school administrators — go to and type in “Lenore Skenazy.” You find a lot of other great presentations.

  11. Earth.W May 9, 2013 at 1:52 am #

    So sad how children have become prisoners. Anxieties of adults now pushed onto children.

  12. lollipoplover May 9, 2013 at 9:03 am #

    This is so true and unfortunate. It’s as if we’re raising a generation of Indoor kids- ones who turn to screens for companionship over friends in the neighborhood.

    The boy who felt he wasn’t capable of climbing a tree made me truly sad. Climbing a tree with a friend and seeing the world from higher up gives you…perspective. It’s much better than Level 5 on the XBox vs. your avatar friends. Trust me.

    My daughter (5 at the time) would climb trees in her bright pink overalls while I coached my older daughter’s softball team. I could see her when I was fielding with the kids and she developed a *pack* of friends who came to all of the games and play along the fringes of the township park (away from all of those annoying sports parents). Most nights they are climbing trees, making bridges in the creeks, catching frogs in the drainage pipes, playing random games they make up- sometimes involving sticks (the weapon!). I especially loved it when a man came up and warned the girls about snakes in the drainage pipes. One of the boys said “Have you seen one?!” as he was a fan of snakes. He thought maybe the snakes were trying to eat the frogs, which to him was very cool (eegads!) The man said no, he didn’t see any but they shouldn’t be playing near the pipes because there COULD be snakes. To which my daughter said “Then I’ll be RIkki-tikki-tavi” and a new game was started with two kids being cobras…and other random rules. Adults just mess things up when it comes to kids play.

  13. BL May 9, 2013 at 9:51 am #


    That list of playground rules the girl was reciting – actually “three points of contact” is a very good practice when climbing monkey bars or anything else – like trees. I remember my father showing me that when I first climbed trees.

    When you throw it on a list of playground rules, it becomes just another thing used to suspend kids from school or call CPS or whatever they do.

  14. Aleta Karstad May 9, 2013 at 9:46 pm #

    The really scarey thing about hearing those kids say what they most like to do – various electronic games – is that this is becoming the norm! We’re raising a whole generation of kids who are afraid of the real world because they have no experience with it. And school is not the real world, even though the educators keep trying to tell themselves that they are preparing kids for the real world….. by locking them up in classrooms and making them do work that will not be used for anything?

    There are two kinds of play – imaginative play, and play at work – making and doing real things. Our daughter built rabbit cages by herself when she was eight, and if something was broken she figured out how to fix it. Most of her reading was of the how-to variety.

    The best books about free-range kids were written by Arthur Ransome in the 1930’s – “Swallows amd Amazons”‘ , “Winter Holiday”, “We Didn’t Mean To Go To Sea” among others, plausible tales inspired by two families of free range kids that Ransome himself was aquainted with. All through these adventure stories the parents are in the background, giving permission and enforcing rules, yes, but compassionately and after discussion. They supplied daily milk and emergency chocolate, etc. but never interfered, never suggested solutions to problems, and were never present during the adventures themselves. The kids made plans, took risks, spoke with non-related adults in their community when necessary, cooperated with each other, depended upon each other,and compensated for age differences among themselves. They sailed, camped, hiked, climbed, and imagined stuff, all without adult supervision, and it didn’t always go smoothly – just like real life.

    Where did all the over protectiveness come from in today’s parents? I think it came from busy lifestyles where families schedule every minute of the day, so that everything is organized and supervised. Children are never without adult supervision. It began with kids growing up in the 1970’s and 80’s, who would go to school and then to various supervised sports and lessons, and never had time themselves for free play – no time to be bored or inconvenienced, both of which are mothers of invention. If you don’t have it, make it! These kids are now having kids of their own, without the experience or understanding of having free time!

    And more recently, our constant connection with the media who are bombarding us with reports of bad things that happen to people and reminding us of how dangerous the world is. The news media are appallingly unbalanced in how it reports the happenings of the world around us – it’s all bad news – good news isn’t compelling enough, so everything we hear is bad. Perhaps the last sensibly informed generation was the one before everyone watched tv and listened to the radio constantly, and before sex and violence had to be a part of all entertainment.

    The public media are producing a generation of paranoid parents. They only feel secure themselves inside some kind of organized system (the workplace or educational or religious or sports institutions) so whenever something is not organized or supervised their fears creep in – in place of the experience they don’t have. It takes a special kind of parent to be confident enough to let their children experience life outside of institutions – either one must have been raised oneself as a free range kid (and I was) or one has to think one’s way out of the box, and take courage.

  15. D May 11, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

    So basically they’re saying that playing in the woods is more important that excelling at piano, flute, volleyball, school, ect.
    I disagree. Having afterschool activities developed eye-hand coordination, self-confidence, ect. Free Range Kids claims that playing in nature with your friends do to, but that’s unproductive and limits kids from the real world- not everything works like it does in nature.

  16. Nicole May 11, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

    D, the children at the nature preserve were too young for volleyball and flute. They were small children, play is what they should be engaged in most of the time. In the video they did other things, like painting and writing letters, as part of their play,

    The concept isn’t that children shouldn’t take lessons or classes, but rather that children should have age appropriate responsibilities and be encouraged to engage in play. Lessons and classes can be in addition to that, but not instead of that. For example, we had a very “free range” day at my house today. The kids spent most of the day outside playing with children, loosely supervised, riding bikes, finding snakes, climbing fences and trees. And on Monday they’ll be in school learning the four 4’s and having their 20 minutes of daily recess, and doing homework, and whatnot.

    In a couple years they’ll both choose an instrument and be in band or orchestra. And they’ll be in soccer, little league, and flag football. They’ll do summer camps and vacation bible school and all that other structured stuff. But they’ll also play, play, and play.

  17. hineata May 13, 2013 at 6:13 am #

    Sorry, coming late to this, but I do have trouble believing the kid who says he can’t climb a tree. Seriously, how could a neuro-typical kid not be able to climb at least a small tree?

    Even the most helicoptered kids I know here climb trees. Surely that level of physical incompetence isn’t normal? It just seems incomprehensible.

  18. Natalie May 13, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    Okay, okay.
    Let’s clear something up. There is the helicopter philosophy of parenting, and there is free-range, and everything in between.

    What does the Xbox or TV have to do with it? Helicopter parents could be all about exercise and outdoor activity. The difference is that they would want to supervise it more than free-range parents.

    I know plenty of parents that I would consider to be overly paranoid that limit TV and video games.

    Also, what’s wrong with enrichment activities? It’s not either/or. It doesn’t have to be violin lessons or free-play. You can do both.

  19. Natalie May 13, 2013 at 9:35 am #

    Also, I use what I learned in school.