Network TV News Show Seeks Families Going “Free-Range”-ish

Hi! If your family has let the kids drop some extracurricular activities in favor of more free time — or is considering it — TV is looking for YOU. A producer for one of the evening news shows is trying to figure out if this desire for a more old-fashioned, it’s-ok-to-be-bored childhood is a trend. I think it is! If you embody it, just add a little comment here and I’ll be able to forward your note to the producer. Or tweet me. Thanks! — Lenore

42 Responses to Network TV News Show Seeks Families Going “Free-Range”-ish

  1. lhm July 1, 2009 at 4:58 am #

    I think it is a trend – and i love it. I have three kids 6,3,1 and i am trying to remove them from the kid activities rat race! It’s hard, but when they are outside catching bugs or painting the driveway it gives me alot of joy. It’s not like I’m trying to raise luddites or anything, just want them to have some free-joy time

  2. Valerie July 1, 2009 at 5:44 am #

    My 10 year old has not dropped all her extracurricular activities, because she’s in them by her own choice. However, her preferred use of time is romping about the neighbourhood with her buddies. They roller-blade, scooter, and bike around without supervision, going places that I may never hear about. She also babysits, (unsupervised, of course) and dogsits. My 14 year old son has a lot of freedom, but that seems pretty natural for a kid his age. He rides his bike to his friends’ houses, or to the comic book store, or to the game store. I think there are far free-ranger parents than us, but my daughter has more freedom than many of her school friends, and she doesn’t know any one else her age who babysits yet.

  3. Mike Lanza July 1, 2009 at 5:44 am #

    You and I spoke by phone about a year ago. I run and am writing a book on the subject of kids’ play in neighborhoods.

    I just ran a two week “neighborhood summer camp” for kids in my neighborhood to take kids in my hood off the summer camp treadmill for a bit and get them to know each other and their neighborhood better. It was quite successful.

    Here are some photos:

    The SF Chronicle is running an article on this and on my front and back yard innovation – I’ve redone them to create a sort of neighborhood “Cheers” where neighbors can just drop by and hang out.

    Please pass this on to your contact(s) at the network news program if you think they’d be interested.

  4. Wendy H July 1, 2009 at 5:51 am #

    I think it’s a trend that has finally been given a name and voice. I’ve finally started being comfortable and even proud admitting that I let my three year old help me chop veggies and stir things on the stove. She’s highly supervised because she’s three but I still let her help (helping is her favorite activity). It’s encouraged her love for helping and also taught her some caution both of which I approve of.

    Lately when I relate stories on things like how she grabbed the hot (after I told her god knows how many times not to touch it!) and she burned her fingers the usual response I now get is “that’s how they learn” rather than questions as to what I was doing letting her around a hot burner to begin with. Sometimes I wonder if that’s just my friends or not but I don’t think so because I keep seeing stuff for your book or encouraging free-range kids in general popping up more and more.

    P.S. Definitely feel free to pass on my name and such to whomever. I love talking about free-range parenting.

  5. jewels July 1, 2009 at 8:12 am #

    Hi, I am a brand-new reader, first-time commenter. I actually don’t have kids yet, so it may seem weird I”m reading here, but your blog has actually eased me off my “oh my god I’m not having kids, no way, I cannot give up my life like that!” panic. Since finding this blog, I no longer feel a panic attack coming on when I think about what would happen to my life if I have a child. So thank you for that.

    Anyway……the point of my comment was to link you to Roger Ebert’s blog, where he has written a post today on free range kids. I thought i would come over here and link it, in case you hadn’t seen it:

    (Ebert’s blog is pretty great, too, by the way. It’s not just about movies!!)

    Anyway, I’m sure I’ll be back to comment, as long as you all don’t mind a non-parent chiming in. (If it helps, I teach college, and see the overgrown, helpless 5-year-olds that come to college completely unable to set their own schedules or communicate like adults…)

  6. Chip and Ashley Donahue July 1, 2009 at 8:52 am #

    My wife Ashley and I have been trying a couple of things with our 3 kids to make certain that they have some down-time, creative time. Too often, we think about down time being tube (tv) time, but our kids are learning to unwind on their own. First, we listed our yard as an National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat. The kids are exploring a wild world in our own back yard, full of native plants and wild things. Second, my wife has been making sure to give them at least 30 minutes of in your room, on your own time. This is driving our middle child crazy, but he will grow to love this time. Being the middle child means that he is often pulled in so many directions. This will allow him to break away from those expectations. Thirdly, we are dropping our two oldest kids off at the mail box in the afternoons and allowing them to walk on their own down the 1/2 mile driveway. There is a point where we can not see them, but we are well aware that together they are prepared and able to make it home on their own.

    Amazing thing is that we, the parents, both walked home several miles after school with a group. Amazing how times have changed. But I wonder if it is not that the times have changed but that we have been taught, scared into thinking that we are constantly unsafe. Ashley tells the story often about how she roamed the neighborhood by herself, but how now her mother calls to see if it is ok for our oldest to play in the yard by herself.

  7. DJ July 1, 2009 at 9:13 am #

    I don’t know if it’s a trend as much as a response to the increasing control over childhood. It’s like every change has been small and individually “made sense” and now we’re seeing what it all adds up to and are yelling “stop!”

    Great free-range moments for me today — took my 5yo, 8yo, and 8yo’s friend to Six Flags Over Texas. We rode a lot of stuff together, but there were many opportunities for allowing some freedom to the older kids. I made decisions based on their abilities and our location. It was a light day at the park, so I often felt safe letting them go off on a bigger ride or two and then meeting up with us at a particular place. At one point, I even sent an 8 yo and the 5yo to a ride while the other 8 yo and I rode a coaster. They were all so proud of themselves and we had a great day together!

    I hope that I do embody the true spirit of free-range parenting — looking at the child’s skills and the situation and giving them the tools and the freedom to grow up strong, wise, and well, to grow up! I try to give my kids both their roots and their wings.

    I worked at a church preschool for a couple of years. When the first kid got injured (minor) on my watch, I asked the director what I needed to do (parent and form-wise). Her first question was: who is the kid? and she made her decision based on how uptight the parent was about stuff like that. I guess I must have been on the loose end of the scale, because I never got a boo-boo report in the entire 4 years my two kids were there. I do remember having my son put in the car in car-line with a quick “He was bit on the playground. We applied ice.”

  8. Jon Daley July 1, 2009 at 9:17 am #

    Of course, even if you have free-range kids, you’ll have to decide whether you want to be on TV or not…

    by the way – thank you for this site – I’ve enjoyed reading a lot of the posts and comments (and ended up subscribing to various commenters’ blogs. I usually find myself way out on the extreme end of “freerange” issues, but here find myself more average, which is comforting in some sort of way.

  9. Anna July 1, 2009 at 9:39 am #


    I have been a reader of the blog and infrequent commenter for a while. One of the things that often strikes me when reading the comments is how much our ability to be free-range depends on how open our neighborhood is to the idea. If there are no other children outside to play with and no grownups to intercede (without needlessly involving the authorities) if he gets in trouble, going free-range is not likely to be a happy exercise for the child or the parents. After reading all the scary stories about police being called on parents of children walking a few blocks to soccer practice, or left in the car for 2 minutes, or riding the train (is Izzy still reluctant to do it again?) I am even more glad that I live in a very different community.

    I applaud the folks at Playborhood for their efforts. I hope the producers interview them and show everything they were able to achieve. I am also proud of my community – Bethesda Park in Rockville, Maryland – where unsupervised children roam the playground and kids over 12 are allowed at the pool by themselves (even under 12 is ok with the passing of a swimming test and written permission from the parents.) My daughter is 7 and she goes to an after-school program and several extracurriculars in the afternoons, but after we get home it is “See you when it gets dark”.

    I am also proud of the American Russian-speaking community. Most of us grew up free range back in the USSR, but while our childhood friends who stayed behind won’t let their children out of their sight (and given the current Russian crime rates, who can blame them) most of us have chosen a very different approach to parenting. At an all-weekend Russian music festival at a Pennsylvania campground a few weeks ago, complete with fires, rivers, poison ivy, and quite a few heavy vodka drinkers, I was the hovering parent, needing to know where my child was at all times. Then I stopped embarrassing her in front of her new friends and relaxed a little, and we both had a great time.

  10. Tracy Stevens July 1, 2009 at 10:11 am #

    I would love to be considered for the TV show! My kids (two boys 7 and 4) spend their days climbing trees (without signing a liability waiver), riding bikes and playing in the alley. Our alley is the size of a football field yet some of our neighbors are horrified that we let them play in it unsupervised sometimes! One even puts out a sign that reads “Slow – Children at Play”. It would be tough to get up to 15 miles per hour before you ran out of cement! When my children come to me saying they are bored, I suggest they could do chores, so they have stopped complaining of boredom and they always find something to keep them interested!

    Let me know if we would be of interest!

    Tracy Stevens

  11. MaeMae July 1, 2009 at 10:18 am #

    I also believe this is a trend and I hope we see a lot more of it. I chose to homeschool because I believe it gives my children the best of both worlds. They can complete their school work in 2-3 hours a day which gives them the rest of the day to do whatever they feel like. It also allows for them to use their evenings playing structured sports. I always try to make sure that they have at least 4-5 hours a day of free time.

  12. DJ July 1, 2009 at 10:27 am #

    @Tracy Stevens: I remember ONCE in my childhood telling my mother that I was bored. She found so many chores and things for me to do that I NEVER said anything like that again.

  13. Nick July 1, 2009 at 10:42 am #

    Over the last two years we’ve encouraged our kids, ages 10,7, and 5, to have fun doing things we did when we were kids. And summer time is the best time to get the kids out of the house. Now our kids notice when the street lights come on. They know saying they’re bored is just going to get an answer like “That’s great you’re bored. I was too as a kid. Let me tell you about the game I played throwing the ball againt the wall to not be bored..” and before I finish telling the story again they are out the door. We make our kids look out the window on long drives and count telephone poles. We let them invent things in the backyard. (We’ve lost 3 spatulas, all of our duct tape is gone, I think I’m short 2 pairs of garden gloves, our stapler is missing in action, and our kites now have no kite string). Is this good? Well, who knows. But it’s more fun for me than sitting watching them stand still in a soccer field for two hours or watching them unlock secret characters in SuperSmash Bros. And hopefully it’s more fun for my kids too.

  14. Aaron Klenke July 1, 2009 at 10:49 am #


    I’ve commented more than a few times here and have linked to many of your posts through facebook to spread the kool-ade.

    I’d be more than happy to discuss what I think is happening with kid’s schedules and how my wife and I are trying to counter it.

    Thanks for the work you are doing.

  15. DJ July 1, 2009 at 10:49 am #

    @ Nick: I love backyard science and inventions. I did, however, have to finally label a set of containers of vinegar, baking soda and food coloring as “kitchen only!” because they kept using it all up to make volcanoes, so when I went to cook or clean, I never had any. (I do buy them their own experiment set on a regular basis.)

  16. rachel clark July 1, 2009 at 11:17 am #

    i am at home fulltime with my 18month old and nothing makes me smile more than to see her playing in the backyard with her chalk, the pegs or the dog.i hope as she gets older she finds joy in the simple things that can be fun.i had a great, simple childhood being outdoors every moment we could,so i hope to give her the same freedoms as she grows.

  17. Carla July 1, 2009 at 11:49 am #

    I have 3 kids that are 3 and under. We do not have TV, they are outside as much as possible, and I look forward to when they are all old enough I kick them outside for the day. We just moved out to 10 acres. They already are country bumpkins! 🙂 We want to raise our children to be confident, self sufficient creatures. We totally support a free range lifestyle.

  18. Beverly Baumgartner July 1, 2009 at 2:08 pm #

    Our 6.5 yr old son pretty much does what he pleases with his time, in consultation with his parents. We homeschool (in an unschooling, discussion-based way) and make a point of being together as a family (in a non-programmed way) as much as possible. One of the driving factors behind our decision to homeschool was that even the public school day feels too regimented…

    I enjoy talking with others about this important topic!

  19. Megan July 1, 2009 at 8:49 pm #

    I think it’s a great idea for children to feel bored! It gives you the opportunity to say, “Use your imagination!” This is something my mother said to me MANY times when I was younger and it prompted some really fun experiences for both of us; I’d make up games and silly scenarios. And instead of being rewarded with a video game or an ice cream cone I received a praise like, “You’re so creative!” And believe me, that meant so much more.

  20. solinox July 1, 2009 at 8:55 pm #

    We are definitely free-range parents, despite the disapproving looks and comments from other parents we sometimes encounter. We have six kids, ages 9, 9, 9 (yes, triplets!), 6, 3, and 1. Two of our kids are blind, two are going blind, and my husband is blind. We homeschool, which for the 9-year-olds has shifted to primarily self-study since they hit 4th grade. “Free-range” is almost a practical necessity with this many kids, but I think it also works better for their growth and development. By letting them figure things out for themselves whenever possible, we are teaching them to think of themselves as independent and smart. The orientation and mobility book I’ve been reading (O&M is how blind people get around, using canes and things) puts it really well: Children who are allowed to explore their environment independently learn to think of themselves as independent movers and remain that way into adulthood. I think this approach to blind children is equally valid for sighted children as well!

  21. Tammy Hoeltke July 1, 2009 at 9:57 pm #

    Hi, I am mom to 6 kids, ages 21 down to almost 2. My oldest girls still say to me, ‘Remember you used to lock us out of the house and we could only come in to get a drink or a snack?’ Carly (eldest) is heading into college this year without the benefit of being ‘best’ at anything besides being Carly. As for the rest still at home,we carefully weigh each activity as it comes up, and we mostly pass. We’ve tried, and given up, our Y membership in favor of swimming (or not) at the lake a block from our house. My oldest son, 16, pretty much makes his own decisions about his life and time, and is currently taking in as much music as he can handle at Summerfest. My younger boys go and hang out at the park. We let them use power tools in the garage to cut out wooden swords and such. I want my children to be able to hear themselves think and be motivated by their curiousity and sense, not a schedule or outline. Yes, we have internet and some video games, but only 1 cell phone in the whole house. My 5 year old is in t-ball at the local park, it’s once a week for a few weeks over the summer if he wants to continue. If there is something one truly wants to try, we do our best to accomodate, but really feel that time to just mess around is so very important. We’re very lucky to live in a small town with a ton of natural resources right out of our back door-Lake Michigan, ice age trails, a state forest……….
    We are living longer, potentially healthier lives, what’s the rush to grow up??


  22. Elizabeth July 1, 2009 at 11:08 pm #

    I’ve never signed my 4 and a half year old up for anything until this past year. She takes swimming lessons (30 min once a week) and she asked to be in ballet class so I signed her up. Other kids I know seem to have 101 different lessons, classes, etc. every week plus myriad play dates. For us the weekends are for hanging out together as a family and doing whatever. Some people have said we’re depriving our kids of opportunities. I think we’re showing them life doesn’t have to be a rat race by age 5!

    I’d talk to anyone about it, but the producer might not be interested in me since my kids are so young (15 months and 4.5 years).

  23. DJ July 1, 2009 at 11:37 pm #

    @Megan — good for you on the rewards! I am amazed at how many tangible items people will give out for rewards. (Although I must admit to bribing my children in the grocery store: “If you help me and don’t ask for things off the list, we’ll see if there’s enough money left in the envelope for Icees when we’re done” but that’s for my sanity, not their self-esteem.)

    In addition to positive comments, we also do activities for rewards. I still love the day my (then) 4 yo daughter waited patiently in a long line at the post office with me. As I said goodbye to the clerk, a little voice carried across the otherwise quiet room: “Mama, was I good? Do we get to go blow dandelions now?” You could hear the giggles slowly building in the line and I looked and saw a ton of smiles directed at my bright-eyed little girl.

    Then again, maybe that’s just a sanity saver for me. Or maybe it’s just treating her like a person — “I know this is hard for you. We’ll do something you like next.”

    And we went and blew a whole bunch of dandelions in front of the post office!

  24. Susan Rivers July 2, 2009 at 12:59 am #

    Hi folks, my older son, now age 30 an younger son, age 18, apparently were ahead of their time! I was adamant that they be free to structure their own time. And in the go-go 1980s when everybody was programming their kids by the second, we were still having dinner together every night as a family. But the pressure from other parents was sometimes pretty strong (“How will he get into a good college without sports?” or ” Aren’t you afraid he’ll get into trouble?”)and I admit that i second guessed my decision at times when they were young.
    Interestingly, it was my older son who came across this site. He sent me the link with a “thank you” for having given him his freedom when he most needed it.

  25. chiromamma July 2, 2009 at 6:05 am #

    My kids just do one sport and that’s it. Actually, one kid isn’t playing a sport this summer. No camps, just LOTS of free time to be bored and get creative. They are sometimes shocked at how unavailable their friends are with all the camps they do. My sons have started a dance troupe in the neighborhood and begun filming a kitchen show soon to be broadcast on YouTube! My daughter’s been growing vegetables for our table.

  26. tracey July 2, 2009 at 9:25 am #

    I am a homeschooling SAHM who loves to see kids that are bored. The ideas they come up with! When our weather has been CRAZILY cold these past few days, our kids and neighbors decided to “trick out” their bikes and scooters with chalk. One father actually started to tell his daughter it was a “waste of chalk!” What, exactly, is chalk for then? 🙂

    I love seeing my kids create and investigate. A sport or activity or two isn’t going to hurt them, but when our days or nights are scheduled, life is less enjoyable. My boys played soccer, but if they were having too much fun having battles in the backyard? We skipped practice. My daughter chose ballet and loved it. She’ll probably do it again, but only if it isn’t a stress on our family financially and emotionally.

    I would be interested in seeing a show that showcases freer families. Families that are remembering that THEY rode their bikes from dawn till dusk and survived, so hey! Their kids probably will, too!

    Still love the site, hon.

  27. Jean July 2, 2009 at 10:19 pm #

    We definitely limit afterschool and camp activiites during the summer in favor of “down time”, because speaking for myself, none of my most creative projects would have ever seen the light of day if not for long stretches of time to think. Of course, as a parent, what this choice translates into is actually *less* down time for myself (as my house becomes a magnet for our neighbors and my daughter’s school friends) but I find that my daughter gets really wound up and irritable if she doesn’t have the flexibility to say, “Today is just for reading/gardening/making things.” We put her needs before our own.
    I highly doubt that anyone from TV will be interested in talking with us once they learn that one of the principal ways we carve out time for our child is to raise her TV- and screen-free. Best parenting decision ever! My husband and I watch so little TV ourselves that the name of the station – not to mention the name of the journalist -would most likely be completely unfamiliar to us.

  28. Jennifer July 3, 2009 at 10:01 am #

    It feels terrific that people are giving a voice to what many of us knew deep down before: that kids are SUPPOSED to be bored sometimes. I think of how many hours I spent sitting in the back seat of a car, looking out the window…. .just looking. Sticking my hand out and letting the wind catch it. Half dreaming while my parents talked quietly in the front seat. And now….there are parents who freak out if they have to go somewhere without an electronic device, for fear their kids “won’t have anything to do.” Now extend that to hanging out at home. Kids who are not given something to do, invent something. Smashing rocks to see what’s inside. Catching inchworms. Digging a big hole in the mud. Kids who are always given something to do, when finally left alone, are just plain bored.

  29. Uly July 3, 2009 at 1:45 pm #

    A waste of chalk! My goodness, is chalk so expensive where you live that you suddenly can’t afford to waste it or something? Ye gods, whatever will people think up next, a waste of chalk.

    Heck, my younger niece grabs up the chalk and puts it on her mouth and calls it “lip balm”. She then covers her face and calls herself an easter egg. Last week the two of them took all the chalk and soaked it in water to see what would happen. (It got wet.) Now THAT probably is a waste of chalk, but I told them nothing other than that they couldn’t get more until mid-July and if they used it all up they were outta luck. Moral lesson learned? 1. Soaking chalk is fun. 2. You probably shouldn’t soak all of it, though.

    They wouldn’t learn it if I didn’t let them.

  30. DJ July 3, 2009 at 10:42 pm #

    @Uly – yeah, one of the important things for free-range kids to understand is purposing (aka budgeting) resources. If you go out and buy more as soon as they use something up, then you will be truly frustrated and won’t allow them to experiment, etc. Free-range doesn’t mean I’ll fund anything and everything they want when they want it.

  31. Jan July 4, 2009 at 2:05 am #


  32. Kelly Jansen July 4, 2009 at 2:13 am #

    Wow – finally validation! My son is now 20, my daughter is 16 and the last one is 14. My children have homeschooled since the 90s and have been “free range” the entire time. My son started community college at 16 (he graduated at 18) and now is working to build his own business. My daughter has just started community college at 15. The 14 year old builds rockets (not from a kit any more – he has his own recipe for rocket fuel), robots, a potato guns, an a millon other really cool inventions.

    My work is home based but as a Private Investigator / Process Server / Court Researcher I have been “in the field” frequently and often took my children along. When they were quite young and would get quickly bored at court, they would walk over to the public library or go out to get food or see something of interest.

    When we were in the city, they would cross two seperate three lane streets. I worried, but my son assured me that he could do it and would hold his sister’s hand. I walkedbehind them once or twice and saw how well he did and decided they would be fine. Our primary concern at that point was an ordinance that did not allow children alone in public areas during school hours. My son, on his own, promptly and courteously addressed our concerns with a city council-man who was at court one day, explaining why the ordinance was too broad by covering all children although he understood the need to reduce truancy.

    I see many readers have younger children. I know I really caused a lot of worry for my sister and mother as I raised my children in this “dangerous” manner – they worred about Social Services “finding out” things I allowed, kidnappers, risking the childrens’ futures. I just want to reassure the parents of younger children that this lifestyle creates strong, independent, self thinkers which is what you want when your children reach their teen years. Also, as parents, I believe it is our job to raise good, healthy adults / citizens and this lifestyle does exactly that.

  33. Karen Halsey July 4, 2009 at 6:03 am #

    Our 6 year-old daughter doesn’t have one after-school activity (other than PT daycare) and my son has only played baseball and participated in a school play.

    We would rather they find a friend in the neighbor to play with, hang out with us, read a book, make fairy houses in the backyard, create clay creatures for intense battles, make special potions, bug each other — rather than be scheduled 24/7 like so many others in our town.

    Love your book — I’m on Commandment 13!

    Tiburon, CA

  34. Steph July 4, 2009 at 11:24 pm #

    I had always intended to raise my kids “Free Range” and now that I am a parent I find that I am following through with it.

    I counted on the fact that many parents and society in general would consider me a overly trusting (at best) or negligent (at worst) parent. I counted on resistance from other parents to my sometimes hands-off parenting style. However, what I didn’t count on – yet am continuously and pleasantly surprised by – is the number of other parents who are commited to raising their children “free range” and the support and att’a girls that the few of us are able to give one another.

  35. LaDonna July 5, 2009 at 10:03 am #

    Hi. We are a family of 5 free range-ish children. Our children are 7, 6, 4, 2, and 8mon. It’s not easy to do in this world. (We live in Canada.) I extend my children’s boundaries and get phone calls. But we have not had the children in ANY extra curricular activities. We do things as a family and love that more. Plus we’re not bored. The kids have each other to play with, it saves money and it’s the way I was raised.

  36. C.L. Dyck July 6, 2009 at 3:24 am #

    We live in the Canadian backcountry. We are so free-range that probably nobody these days would approve. We’re raising our kids the way it was done a generation ago.

    They are currently 13, 11, 9 and 7. They’re allowed to bike 2 miles to Auntie’s house without adults, with the older kids along. The 13-year-old is learning to fix and drive an old car (out in the pasture, with his Dad’s supervision).

    The 13-year-old spent a day working on his grandfather’s farm at sheep-shearing time. All the kids have been actively involved in helping renovate our older home.

    Our kids make their own meals and help plan the family menu. They bake without supervision. They do dishes, much as they don’t like it.

    They go rafting on the pond. They have a fort in the bush a quarter-mile away, the location of which I’m not supposed to know (and I won’t shatter the fantasy). Sometimes they spend most of the day out there.

    They understand firearms safety. (Again, the 13yo is old enough to take his hunter safety course.) They sail our boat. They play in the community orchestra. In short, they do many things that adults do, within the range of their surprisingly high capabilities. They don’t fear strangers. They mix socially in whatever groups they’re in and initiate conversations outside their age group.

    Funny, one thing they don’t really do is spend a lot time with TV, video games, texting or online activities. Too busy living, I guess.

    As a side note, we “unschool,” which is homeschooling by demonstrated, rather than textbook, learning. As parents, our educational method is to have our kids alongside in a full-time mentoring relationship as we venture into the world–all across Canada and around the States some too. Our two “extracurriculars,” judo and dance classes, are as “curricular” as it gets around here.

  37. Jill Besnoy July 7, 2009 at 12:08 am #

    My website, promotes a more laid back approach to parenting and as you know, since you quoted me in your book, I disdain the extra curricular pressure put on our kids. I passed on the 5 day a week commitment to swimming for my 7 year old. Even though the coach said I was holding him back. I recently put my foot down again with tennis. The tennis club demanded more than a one day a week commitment in the fall. My son loves tennis but he also loves a lot of other sports. I told them it was one day a week or I was pulling him out. For now, I am going to let him dabble in everything he likes until he decides he wants to commit himself to one in particular. He also likes to just bike around our neighborhood and play on the playground with his friends. I have no intention of filling up his days with back to back activities. That’s not what I remember from my childhood. My favorite memories are of playing kickball with the kids on the block and hide and seek in the woods behind my house. I want my kids to have those same types of experiences! Though I’m sure my son will want to do soccer in the fall, that’s fine by me, because it’s his choice.

  38. BMS July 8, 2009 at 10:52 pm #

    One of the biggest obstacles in my quest for free rangeness is the lack of other free range kids around.

    Literally NONE of my kids’ friends are free in the summer. Every single one of them is either off on a family vacation, or in camp all day. I send them outside to play, but they get tired of each other’s company (understandable). But what can I do? It seems I either have to over schedule them into camps to find other kids, or spend the days taking them to museums, parks, and the like just to find other kids. It’s sad that in this beautiful green suburb there are no other kids my kids’ ages to be found.

    I understand that some families have two working parents, and need the camps for child care. I get it. But even the stay at home parents have scheduled their kids’ every second all summer. It is maddening sometimes to be in the minority!

  39. elissa July 9, 2009 at 12:45 pm #

    we are not offically enrolling our 6 year old in anything this summer. she goes to free tennis down the block and swims 2 days /week but that is it. mostly hanging in our hood with chalk and a bike. visiting some family. really trying to free range it big time. she also begins first grade in the fall and we worried this ( in nyc anyway) is her last summer of true little kidom. so we are trying to keep it simple.

  40. Kim Upton July 17, 2009 at 5:10 am #

    First comment to your site. 🙂

    I love the idea of slowly down and trusting kids – and that they will show this on t.v. (maybe a bit of irony there – less t.v. for kids on t.v.) *giggle*

    We are a free range family, but lately I’ve noticed some bad habits sneaking up…and I’m working my way back to sanity.

    About three years ago I started “free range homeschooling.” 🙂 Our life is very interesting for sure! 🙂

    (lovin’ this blog)

  41. the pilatesbiz February 9, 2012 at 5:04 am #

    Well if your going to DNF you DNF! Glad your ok now. Im sure you will overanalyze the experience and make sure it wont happen again.


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