Take Our Children to the Jungle…And Have Them Catch Tarantulas Day

Hi Readers!  As “Take Our Children to the Park…And Leave Them There Day” approaches on Saturday, May 21st, I find myself doing one of my favorite Free-Range things. That is, I remind myself that our hyper-fears for our children are out of whack with what many children face — and overcome — on a daily basis in the rest of the world.

After all, I’m only suggesting that we let our kids play for a little while at the local playground, unsupervised, starting at about the same age as these kids:[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ra4WmE-joMQ]

P.S. If you ARE planning to participate in Take Our Children to the Park…and Leave Them There Day, please leave a comment. The media want to know whether anyone would really do such a thing “in this day and age.”


122 Responses to Take Our Children to the Jungle…And Have Them Catch Tarantulas Day

  1. Elizabeth May 11, 2011 at 3:23 am #

    I can’t participate. It’s illegal here and people have been arrested. For kids seven and under, that is. Mine are two and four and at this point, I’m more likely to have them snatched by CPS, than an attacker. Or most likely, they’d be hit by a speeding car. WHen they are older I will, for sure.

    But I’m really commenting to say… that is an incredible video. Thanks for posting!

  2. quickypickycooks May 11, 2011 at 3:34 am #

    No, I will not take them there- I will let them walk by themselves, I will tell them that time to be home, and I will enjoyed an iced tea and good book on my very quite porch; while they enjoy responsibility, trust, and the joy of childhood.

  3. Caro May 11, 2011 at 3:37 am #

    Mine’s only two years old, but you bet I will when he’s older!

  4. Alan Young May 11, 2011 at 3:42 am #

    My 8, 10 and 12 year olds love going to the park. They don’t even ask for a ride anymore (it’s 3 small blocks away).

    Also, the local pool allows unattended children 8 years old and up. He’s been chafing for his first solo visit. This summer I plan on renting movies I haven’t been able to watch during the day, sitting back on the couch and falling asleep with no kids bouncing around asking the same question incessantly. :]

  5. pentamom May 11, 2011 at 3:43 am #

    Not to dispute that this is pretty Free Range indeed, just to de-sensationalize the YouTube title a bit:

    “Venomous” means you get itchy if its stinging hairs come in contact with your skin, and the equivalent of a wasp sting if it bites you. No tarantulas are actually dangerous to humans — not that I’d want to get itchy or wasp-stung on a regular basis!

  6. Alan Young May 11, 2011 at 3:46 am #

    @pentamom, you are quite correct. However, these children are hunting spiders in the forest … where “distinguishing between dinner and danger” truly do apply.

  7. Micki May 11, 2011 at 3:46 am #

    I can’t either. ‘In this day and age’ , to quote the media, I am too overscheduled to fit this in! I have a Girl Scout meeting at that time, followed by my munchkin’s birthday party.

    I don’t suppose there is anyone here near North Branch, MN who would like to schedule ‘leave em there’ outing on a different day?

    My daughter is an only child, and I would like to send her out in the world more, but I would prefer we start out using the buddy system (mostly in case she gets hurt or begins to wander, NOT because I fear a kidnapping). Only problem is, if I suggest an outing to other parents, sans supervision, they think I am nuts and will not try it!

    You should have seen my neighbors reaction when I suggested we let our daughters go ice skating for an hour at a learn-to-skate program put on by our Hockey Association, where coaches and dozens of elementary aged kids would be, and that I would pick them up when they were done. She flat out refused to let her (10 year old) daughter go anywhere I wasn’t going to be watching closely, because she ‘doesn’t trust anybody and you don’t know what will happen.’

    Actually, I do. Nothing. Nothing but exercise and good fun.

    Anyway, if there is anyone close by to me that would like to schedule something, let me know!!

  8. LoopyLoo May 11, 2011 at 3:47 am #

    “In this day and age”? What, the safest age that we’ve ever known? Yeah, who would be so silly?! Arrgh.

    I’m not participating because mine is only three, but I’m looking forward to her being old enough to give it a try.

  9. Sara May 11, 2011 at 3:49 am #

    Mine isn’t old enough to be at the park (and there aren’t enough parks that are close enough) but she’ll be outside roaming the block on her bike and scooter with her friends like she always does.

  10. Kat May 11, 2011 at 3:50 am #

    Absolutely! My daughter is 8. I let her go last year when she was 7 and she met an 8 year old girl from the neighborhood – and her mother. * deep sigh*

  11. JulieD May 11, 2011 at 3:51 am #

    Ha! My kids are walking to the park on their OWN. It’s good for them. They get to meet the neighbors, pet some dogs, run through a few sprinklers, all while paying attention to where they are and learning the lay of the land so that they can get home again, on their own.

    Lots of good things to learn while doing such a simple task. 🙂

  12. Ellie @ The Mommyist May 11, 2011 at 3:56 am #

    I won’t be participating in “Take our children to the park day” this year but only because my daughter is 2. I do let her play in the backyard alone all the time which seems to horrify almost everyone I know. It’s our backyard, if she can’t play there where can she play? It’s not fenced in but she knows not to run off and I can’t imagine anyone would snatch her.

  13. MayS May 11, 2011 at 3:57 am #

    My 10 year old will definitely be participating! He knows to be home for supper. 🙂

  14. Erika May 11, 2011 at 3:58 am #

    Yep, a friend of mind & I are coordinating a time for our kids to meet, here in Madison WI.

  15. pentamom May 11, 2011 at 4:01 am #

    Sure, Alan — there’s plenty of reason why these kids are doing something much more dangerous than most of us would be comfortable with for our own kids.

    That’s why there’s no need to sensationalize the spiders themselves. 😉

  16. Andrea May 11, 2011 at 4:01 am #

    My daughter is absolutely doing this! Last weekend on one of the first really nice days of our Minnesota spring, I let her ride her bike to the very close park by herself for the first time. I must say, the irrational fears are strong and I was worried the entire half hour she was gone, but I was happy to be overcoming my anxiety. Why did she come back so soon you ask? Because no one else was there. In a neighborhood full of kids on a beautiful day! Come on world, let your kids out!

  17. Stella May 11, 2011 at 4:03 am #

    I’ll be doing the toddler version – Take My Toddler To the Park and Sit On a Bench With a Book While He Plays By Himself. Or with other kids. He’s a very sociable little guy.

  18. cagey May 11, 2011 at 4:05 am #

    Yeah, somebody already beat me to it, but that tarantula is large, yet not particularly harmful. A bite would definitely hurt and uricating hairs are certainly not fun, but unless the child is already allergic to bees, they would be fine.

    We have tarantulas and I do let our kids pet their rumps.

    Anyway! My kids are 5.5 and nearly 4 – can’t leave ’em yet, but I will let them play in our front yard alone which is scandalous enough in this neighborhood. Oh wait, I ALREADY LET THEM PLAY ALONE.

    Thanks for being such an advocate for this movement, Lenore! When I doubt myself, I just think back to all that you have written over the years. Truly, thank you!

  19. Heather May 11, 2011 at 4:09 am #

    My 9 year old will not be participating, But that’s only because he says the parks near us are “lame” and he has a Nerf gun war that he participates in with the neighborhood kids every day that it doesn’t rain!

  20. Nanci May 11, 2011 at 4:12 am #

    It’s so nice to come here and see some sanity. Earlier today I was reading a tragic story of a 9 year old girl who was out playing in her apartment complex and killed by a neighbor. The story was very sad (although also very rare), but the comments were also tragic. Person after person wrote how they couldn’t believe a 9 year old was out alone, and how they are always with their child outside because anything can happen and there are bad people everywhere! And of course as always one person suggested CPS be called if you see a young child outdoors alone. My kids will be out on May 21st, although they’re out everyday anyway. We don’t have an actual playground near us but that doesn’t stop all the kids from having a great time playing games like freeze tag.

  21. LisaS May 11, 2011 at 4:17 am #

    Forest Park, St. Louis – be there or be square! (my kids will be the ones riding bikes … without me following along behind)

  22. Delora May 11, 2011 at 4:20 am #

    That’s every day for my 10yo. We live right near a park with a lake that’s about 2mi around. Nearly every day he goes to the park, and sometimes will walk the entire trail around the lake.

  23. Hattie May 11, 2011 at 4:30 am #

    Absolutely! In fact my children go by themselves all the time. If they get their chores done quickly without my needing to intervene and schedule their time then during our daily quiet time they get to go to the park in the same manner instead of resting in their rooms. We homeschool so it is a great break during the day to let them roam on their own.

    Sometimes they go to the ‘hill’ and ‘explore’. Its really a green area with trees and cat tails. They spend hours there. The local Marine recruiting office does drills there and they’ve let my kids participate too. Its fun for my kids and I imagine fun for the Marines too!

    My kids won’t have the opportunity to hunt tarantulas but they will likely look for snakes which is fine with me- as long as they leave them there!

    And what do I do while they’re gone? Anything I want!

  24. Alexandra May 11, 2011 at 4:34 am #

    I’ll be doing the infant version here in Renton, Washington state with my 8-month-old daughter. Visiting the park with a book in my hand to read while she sits in the grass and plays merrily by herself. Perhaps a “STRANGER” child will ask to push her in the swing labeled all over that it is for kids from precisely 2-3 years of age. If it is raining, she’ll be there in her rain suit because she can survive a spring shower. When she’s gradeschool age, she’ll definitely be there by herself!

  25. Sarah May 11, 2011 at 4:34 am #

    Our yard backs onto a park, and I let my 7 year old and 10 year old go there all the time. They hang out on the playground equipment and chat with other friends who go there themselves – ages 6, 8, and 9.

    I may have to suggest they walk a couple of blocks away to go to a different park!

  26. Liz May 11, 2011 at 4:39 am #

    My little one’s not quite 2 yet, so a bit too young to leave there, but I do take her to the park behind our condo quite often. I get funny looks from the other parents when I let her fall down while they hover over their 7-year-olds.

  27. Anna May 11, 2011 at 4:49 am #

    At only 19mos old (and a seriously curious wanderer to boot) my girl isn’t old enough to go alone. I will be taking her to the park though and sitting on the bench while she runs amok!

  28. Susan May 11, 2011 at 4:49 am #

    I’ll do better than that–I’ll go (gasp) out of town and leave them at home to fend for themselves. Of course, now that the only ones left at home are 17 and 20, it’s not so shocking, but we’ve been letting them take care of each other for long weekends for years now. My 4 Free Range kids leave this nest well prepared for life on their own!!

  29. Anthony Hernandez May 11, 2011 at 4:53 am #

    I WILL NOT take my child to the park and leave him alone on 5/21.


    Because he goes to the park by himself every day after school. He also goes to and from school, martial arts lessons, and the pet food store (which requires a short streetcar ride) on his own.

    He is 9.

  30. shana May 11, 2011 at 4:55 am #

    My kids are 4 & 1 so not yet. Maybe in a few more years!

  31. Amy May 11, 2011 at 5:00 am #

    My kids go to the park by themselves all the time, it’s just no big deal.

    They walk around the neighborhood all the time. They walk to their friend’s house, to the comic book store, to get a slice a pizza, to the park, to the book store, to get their hair cut, to go to the grocery store, to get a smoothie.

    And if you they don’t walk, then they bike!

    Sometimes they go together as a group or with friends, sometimes they go by themselves. They are 7, 9, 11, and 13.

  32. Teri May 11, 2011 at 5:04 am #

    We ain’t got no stinkin’ park here in Hooterville, but I will allow mine to play in the street that day and run around the neighborhood, which is pretty much what she does every day anyway. She’s been wanting to climb the fence and go play with the baby cows in the field behind the house. I’ve been saying “no” (for the baby cows’ sake), but maybe I’ll relent and allow it on 5/21.

  33. Keet May 11, 2011 at 5:08 am #

    I doubt I’ll make it a point to take my daughter out and leave her at a park on the 21st, but at almost 9 she rides her bike to the park, and all over the neighborhood, anyway.

  34. Laura May 11, 2011 at 5:45 am #

    My kid will not be participating, but only because she’s in a play and has an all-day rehearsal that day.

    Also, she is 12. I would not take her to the park because she would just…go.

  35. Jessica May 11, 2011 at 5:50 am #

    I seriously doubt they’ll find other kids to play with, but I’m in! We live 4 short blocks from our elementary school, and there are two ways to get to the playground — crossing only dead-end streets, or through a nature preserve with well-groomed paths. I’ll let my 9.5 year old decide which route he wants to take (he is now allowed to take solo walks in the preserve if he tells us where he is going) and he can take his 5 year old brother with him. That way they can play together when nobody else shows up.

  36. Stormimay May 11, 2011 at 6:11 am #

    My 11 year old, 10 year old, 8 year old, and possibly my 6 year old will be walking down to the park and playing there by themselves that day. It’s not too much of an unusual thing for them. The only reason the 6 year old may not be going and the 5 year old won’t be going is that the last time they went by themselves they refused to stop playing and walk back home with their older siblings when it was time. So they are kinda grounded. But not because I am afraid for them; just because they made us late for a birthday party at a friends house.

  37. AmyU May 11, 2011 at 6:49 am #

    Well, I won’t take them to the park, they can take themselves there, thankyouverymuch! The kids will go to the park, play with a frisbee, swing, have races, dig in the dirt, have a picnic, and come home dirty, tired, and happy.

  38. Andrea May 11, 2011 at 6:52 am #

    I used to let my daughter play in the park alone, and she used to walk to school and back alone when we lived in an actual neighbourhood, but now we are downtown, and the park next to us has more drug users than children in it. :S

  39. Tara May 11, 2011 at 7:02 am #

    We’ll be out of town. If we can find a park in my sister’s neighborhood my kids will be outside playing with them.

  40. MommyMagpie May 11, 2011 at 7:24 am #

    My kids will not be taken to the park, because they know where it is. So I will open the back door, shoo them out, and tell them to be home for dinner.

  41. Lea May 11, 2011 at 7:40 am #

    My kids go to the park alone all the time. They walk or bike ride there weekly. Recently my five year old has started accompanying my 8 and 10 year old. My ten year old actually loves the responsibility to look after his little brother at the park.

    Weather permitting they’ll be sent on their merry way to the park a couple blocks down and I’ll enjoy some peace.

  42. PottyMouthMommy May 11, 2011 at 7:54 am #

    It makes me sad that there has to be a national “DAY” set aside to send kids to the park by themselves. It certainly makes me that much more grateful that I live in a community where kicking kids out and sending them to the park is an everyday thing!

  43. Allyson May 11, 2011 at 8:12 am #

    My kids (8 and 10) will be participating! I’ve already taken a lot of flak from my Facebook friends for posting an open invitation to the event.

    Also, last week I came up with a great free range activity for kids on a boring afternoon. Let me know if you want the details, Lenore!

  44. Laura May 11, 2011 at 8:14 am #

    I’m another one with a 2-year-old, so I won’t be leaving him alone. I also usually don’t let him run around his favorite park alone yet – but that’s because he likes playing on the structure for 5-12-year-olds, with the 10-12 foot high area with a climbing wall up (and therefore an opening down), that he’s almost gone out. I do let him play on it, I just want one of us there to say “no” and hold him back when he tries that. He loves the big slides that are right next to it, though, and I don’t see any reason he shouldn’t use them.

    At the other park, where there’s nothing he could fall off of like that, he gets to run around with less supervision. (Okay, technically there is a huge climbing structure taller than that, but non-technically he can’t yet climb UP it to fall OFF it.)

  45. Becca O May 11, 2011 at 8:23 am #

    Maybe my kids are only 4 and 2 but if the 11 year old next door is out than they will be too.

  46. oncefallendotcom May 11, 2011 at 8:27 am #

    That’s nothing, as a kid into science, I caught scorpions, snakes, and black widows and kept them in jars and bug catching boxes in my room. The only time I got in trouble was when I found a freshly killed copperhead on the side of the road, I coiled that puppy up and put in in an empty butter tub with the intention of dissecting it with my science kit (yup I had a dissection kit at home as well, including a scalpel). I put it in the freezer and forgot about it… well until my mother found it, that is.

  47. Decemberbaby May 11, 2011 at 8:35 am #

    I won’t be leaving my 3-year-old at the park, but she does play outside by herself… sometimes in the front yard, with the front door open so I can hear her, and sometimes in the fenced backyard, for an hour at a time. She comes in when she’s ready. I also allow (and encourage) her to walk two doors down (across front lawns and through hedges) to visit with our elderly neighbour who lives there. For the record, we live in a large city, about 50 metres from a main road, and there’s lots of pedestrian and vehicular traffic on our street.

  48. Deidra May 11, 2011 at 8:44 am #

    My child is only 4 years old, so not yet! but horray for all of you who are participating. I spent my childhood starting at age 7 playing in the woods across with the other kids and NO ADULTS! We didn’t even wear watches, but some how knew when it was time to be home. Poster from North Branch, I grew up in MN and 2 weeks each July at a cabin in Northern MN with a family from NB. We went to beach and walked in the woods after dark (the horror) by ourselves! Best memories of my life!

  49. morninglightmama May 11, 2011 at 9:04 am #

    Take them to the park and leave them there is pretty much just an average day around these parts, although my ten year old takes himself to the park (and baseball practice and to friends’ houses) on his own, and as long as he’s responsible about getting home at the expected time (range), then he has this privilege any time he wants it! 🙂

  50. Marie May 11, 2011 at 9:09 am #

    My 6 and 9 year olds play out front and up and down the block on their own regularly anyhow, but we’ll have to see about the park. Can’t leave the 2 year old there on her own, and she’d be screamingly jealous if I just dropped the other two off. It’s a bit far and across a street I hate to cross even at the stoplight, so I’m reluctant to have them walk it, which we haven’t done in a while anyhow.

  51. Celeste May 11, 2011 at 9:11 am #

    I live in West Jordan, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City, and I don’t even need a special day to do this (though I’ll send them out that day for my own peace of mind). Our kids (twin 9 year old girls and a 4 year old) walk to the park on their own on a regular basis. We’ve also let them go to the school up the (busy) street to play on occasion. Our neighborhood is full of free-range parents and the children run and ride their bikes all over the place together.

  52. Mary Zyk May 11, 2011 at 9:14 am #

    My kids go to the park whenever they can – and they also roam the neighborhood, play in the “creek” (a dribble of water out of a storm drain) and ride bikes to friends houses. By themselves! We have five kids, ages 14, 12, 9, 7 and 6 years old. Most the kids in the area do all these things, and there’s tons of kids here. I feel really sorry for a 9 year friend of my daughter’s; she lives two blocks away and her parents do not let her play except for scheduled playdates in the backyard only.

    My three oldest are also allowed to walk to the pool by themselves (our pool allows kids 8 and up without a parent). They come home on time, sunburned, proud and tired!

  53. madmothermusings May 11, 2011 at 9:15 am #

    My 3 and 5 year old will be participating our own unique way, running amok at the local park while I play with my 5 month old on the bench. All while other parents stare me down for being such an irresponsible parent… oh well. They can hover over their 9 year olds while I enjoy a beautiful day the way it was meant to be enjoyed, giving my growing children some freedom, and my infant some attention!

  54. Vanessa May 11, 2011 at 9:43 am #

    I wrote about this topic and 2 readers sent me to your site. Here’s what I wrote:

    I will continue to look over your site. I am intrigued…

  55. Jen May 11, 2011 at 9:46 am #

    With a 2-year-old and nothing vaguely resembling a neighborhood within 8 miles of home, we won’t be participating. Also, that is the same weekend I will be blissfully “driving” along one of the longest continuous yard sales ever. It’s an annual tradition theoretically to celebrate the first national highway, US RT 40 in PA, MD and OH. In reality, it’s just 40 miles of yard sales lining both sides of the road.

    My daughter runs around the yard unsupervised on a daily basis, though, so I participate in spirit every day.

  56. Holly May 11, 2011 at 9:51 am #

    I let my kids out unsupervised…I do peek @ them through the windows sometimes just to keep track, but my 4 are out and about regularly (ages 15, 13, 9, and 7). However, recently my 13 yr old was out riding his bike @ a park a few blocks away and got jumped by a group of boys his age and younger. They whaled on him so he was knocked off his bike, then punched and kicked him till somebody chased them away. He wasn’t seriously hurt but badly shaken, and I’m a little paranoid now. He’s been out biking since, but I had to bite my tongue and pray while he was gone…

  57. Kathy May 11, 2011 at 10:01 am #

    My kids (8 and 10) go to the park unsupervised every day, but I will see to it that they go that day as well. My oldest is 21 and we have always been free-range. I agree with the comment made earlier that the greatest danger is social workers, not predators. I never give a thought to predators, but police, social workers, and busy-bodies give me the willies.

  58. Kathryn May 11, 2011 at 10:09 am #

    Mine do it all the time. “Misplaced” the younger one (7) the other day and discovered him filling up on mulberries in the park. They know their limits and know that this park is within them.

  59. fd10801 May 11, 2011 at 10:09 am #

    I have posted the column on my Facebook page, and expanded it to “Take Your Body Out Of The House Day”.

  60. tommynomad May 11, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    I won’t be participating because my 11-month-old son will be on a plane.

    But we take him to the park and let him crawl about freely already. He often gets out of earshot/view. The playground is fenced, so he can’t get away to the road, so where’s the harm?

  61. Niah May 11, 2011 at 10:18 am #

    My kids are too young at 3 and 2 but I will join in a few years. I do let them run to the far reaches of the playground and climb any play structures they want to attempt though

  62. velobaby May 11, 2011 at 10:39 am #

    My kids do this all the time. At 8, 10, 11, and (a temporary one who is) 12, they also get themselves to school, swim practice, tennis lessons, piano, friends’ houses, etc. They may be at a park or they may be somewhere else. Who knows? I will say that the only drawback of being Free Range is that I lose my kids more often than helicopters. So far, however, they’ve always come home by sundown… usually before then.

  63. Jen May 11, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    Also gotta add, on a related topic: I discovered yesterday just how *sane* my little corner of the world is.

    I live in a small town (less than 300 residents) in SW PA, and regardless of the image the local-ish news channels want to portray, it’s a VERY safe neighborhood. I grew up in the house I am currently living in, my parents live next door to the house I grew up in, and when I was growing up I knew everyone in our half of the village by name (and they knew my mom and grandmother, since my mom also grew up in the village). I don’t know all of the neighbors that well now, but we are all on speaking-on-sight basis.

    I was working in the yard, repainting some furniture. I heard my 2-year-old come out the door into the side yard (inside the fence), then turn and bang on the door she just came out. My mom came to the door and asked Gwen if she wanted to come in. I didn’t hear anything else, and when I looked up a few minutes later, I didn’t see my daughter. I assumed she had gone in with my mom. A couple minutes later, I went in the back door to clean up. When I didn’t see my daughter, I asked where she was. Mom told me she thought Gwen was outside with me. I replied that I thought she was in with mom. This started a search of the yard (large, nearly 3/4 acre all fenced in) that happens a couple times a day most days. When we determined Gwen wasn’t in the yard, that turned into a foray up the street. Mom found my daughter standing in front of a neighbor’s house 3 houses away, looking for the back-hoe she was watching the day before. The neighbor who lived there was just walking over to Gwen after the neighbor in the next house up said that Gwen didn’t belong to him. When my mom got there, the neighbor said she was just getting ready to bring Gwen down and see if she was ours. My next door neighbor, who was leaving for work, was also just coming out to see whose child it was.

    Total result? A minute of semi-panic when we realized my two-year-old wasn’t in the yard. A five-minute conversation with a normally anti-social neighbor about her grown daughter at the toddler stage. And, my father came home from work and moved the latch for the front gate to the outside of the fence so Gwen can’t open it again. Nobody called the police or CYS to report child endangerment, no injuries occurred, and Gwen wasn’t even phased, other than disappointment that the big machines were gone.

    This is a big deal to me because Pittsburgh news (our closest “local” news) runs nearly weekly reports of parents going to court-mandated parenting classes or losing their children because of similar occurrences where toddlers get out and wander unsupervised. In all of these occasions when neighbors find random children, they don’t look for a parent, they start with calling the police.

    Then, today we went to our nearest park to play on the big swings. The park is right against the Youghigheny River, so there are a lot of water fowl around. Gwen played on the climbing area for a while, then I pushed her in the swing until she realized the ducks were there. She then wanted down to go look. While there, she had a lovely conversation about the ducks with a random older gentleman (75 or 80 years, probably) who was sitting on a bench watching the ducks. I actually walked back to the car (about 20 yards away) to get her drink while she sat and watched with him. She probably sat still for longer than anywhere else today. My only complaint about the guy? The cigarette seemingly permanently attached to his fingers. He was polite, patient with Gwen and seemed to find her constant observations about the ducks adorable. Thankfully, the local city has not succumbed to the temptation to bar adults from enjoying the same areas as children, because both my daughter and the older gentleman had a wonderful afternoon watching ducks.

    Moral of the story: There are some areas of the country that haven’t completely succumbed to insanity, and I am SO happy to live in one of those rare areas, since we have been free-range with Gwen since she first became mobile.

    (Note to Lenore: An easy way to e-mail stories like this to you would be nice. 😀 )

  64. Jenn May 11, 2011 at 10:43 am #

    We will be participating. I thought my 4 year old was too young but on the weekend, she was out playing with her older brother while I did some yard work. I went inside for a drink and came back to discover that she went to the park on her own (had to give her a consequence for not letting me know but was secretly proud that she could do it!). Her excuse for not asking for permission was, “I asked Jillian (our three year old neighbour) and she said that I could go.”

  65. Gin May 11, 2011 at 10:46 am #

    TAKE my children to the park? I don’t even usually do that much. My children are 10, 8, and 6. They have Rollerblades and bikes and are encouraged to go to our local parks by themselves. (The closest is half a block away, the furthest is about a mile away.) They know to take a mobile phone or walkie talkie, wear their helmets and sunscreen, and to behave themselves. People think I’m INSANE, but frankly, I think my children aren’t adventurous *enough*. We are fortunate enough to live in an area with parks, beaches, and forests within walking distance–they should be out, exploring every day!

  66. Laura May 11, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    I won’t be taking my children to the park becaue they are perfectly capable of doing that themselves. On a normal weekend afternoon, the four of them (6 year old twins, almost 8, and 10) and the puppy can usually be found riding their bikes around the neighborhood, visiting with friends (child and adult), and playing in the park.

  67. Jen Connelly May 11, 2011 at 11:11 am #

    My kids participate every day. They are 10, 9, 8 and 5.
    They are outside unsupervised every day and regularly go to the park down the street. Only the 5yo doesn’t go alone (has to be with her siblings). She does play out front alone. She was in our driveway coloring with chalks earlier while the other kids ran off to their friends’ houses (one all the way on the other side of the park in a trailer park).

  68. UWSMom May 11, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    I’m still waiting for posts from parents in Manhattan with children under the age of 10, especially those with girls.

    But it’s sure great to hear all those stories of free-range children being supervised by their teenage siblings or about those roaming in their small hamlets where everyone knows each other I also love the fact that most responders are those with children too young to actually participate…

  69. April May 11, 2011 at 11:25 am #

    I would take them and let them play without my input – I do that anyway, but don’t think I would leave them. Not in Dallas. Not sure it’s even legal at 6 and 7.

  70. Juliette May 11, 2011 at 11:31 am #

    Yep, count us in! We’ll be camping that weekend, so we’ll be letting our son, age 8, hike and bike and play at the playground and the cave, by himself. It’ll be ““Take Our Children to the (state) Park…And Leave Them There Day”

  71. Steve May 11, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

    Great Video, Lenore.

    Thanks for posting it. Next time, how about one of Free Range activity and another with some helicopter-ish fear mongering? Opposites might be good for new visitors.

  72. Kelly Mayr May 11, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    Yes, all five of my kids will be participating again this year. It went great last year! They have gone to the part by themselves several times. They will be walking to the park as well. I will have the kids call their friends to meet them there. The more the merrier!

  73. Alice Hallett May 11, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    My 8 and 6 year old will be taking part in “take your children to the park and leave them there day.”

  74. Ksenia May 11, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

    Oh , i love coming here and reading all those SANE responses. My bf has 9 yo son. Last time i forgot to get a cream for dessert from the shops – literaly 10 mins away, so i said to my bf, how about you send your son. He said “no, he is not allowed, they (meaning really mother of the child rather my bf) decided to let him go to shops, school etc by himself after he will turn 10”.. i just laughted to myself and though of me being 7 yo running around the park with other kids and walking from school by myself and i even had my own key so i can let myself into the apartment…. helicopter parents are just ….. well have no words for them.

  75. Lori Brown May 11, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

    I don’t need a special day for this. My kids are 6, 8, & 10 and nearly every day in good weather is “walk to the park & play there without mom” day. The 6 & 8 year-olds went together last night. (I try to make them go together in case of injury, more than anything else.) Today, I was trying to get in the shower and the 6yo announced he was going to the park to see if his sisters were there (they had left with a friend). I told him not to, but he’s as stubborn as I am and went anyway. He was back promptly, uninjured, and headed to his friend’s house a few doors down.

  76. Myriam May 11, 2011 at 2:32 pm #

    I think my 9.5 year old son might be “over” going to the park by himself, which he has been doing for a year. He asks me to with him now. And I’m happy to do that. Maybe now that he has this freedom now he won’t go berserk when he’s a teenager (yeah right).
    Of course part of the problem is that few of his friends are there and he knows to – and wants to – come home if there is no one there that he knows.
    I’m not interested in raising a “freerange kid”, I’m interested in seeing LOADS of children out and about. This is not the case now, because when their parents have to go in to get on with things then they have to go in too.
    We need more collective initiatives such as this park day.

  77. Leanne Banks May 11, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

    Pretty much every Saturday my daughter (age 8) and I go to our local outdoor market. She plays in the park, goes on the free donkey rides, rolls down the hill while I sit in the nearby coffee garden chilling out. It’s perfect.

    I will definitely be participating in this event 🙂

  78. Frau_Mahlzahn May 11, 2011 at 4:00 pm #

    Mine probably won’t wanna go to the park — these days, they rather spend their time down at the creek hunting for leeches.

    (No, neither will I serve leeches for dinner, nor will I be their dinner, no matter how much my son begs me to, ;-)).

    So long,

  79. Kara May 11, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    Yes. My 6 and 9 year old will love to bike themselves to the playground (1/2 mile away). I might let my 4 year old stay there with them, but I’ll walk with her to get there.

  80. FourForTravel May 11, 2011 at 7:18 pm #

    My 9 year-old daughter and her friend routinely “take themselves” between their houses (two blocks apart-egads!), the playground, and the neighborhood after school and on weekends, on foot, bikes, or scooters–no need for me to “take them” anywhere!

  81. NJMom May 11, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    My children will be at a park that day! Quickypickycooks said it perfectly: “…I will let them walk by themselves, I will tell them what time to be home, and I will enjoy an iced tea and good book on my very quiet porch; while they enjoy responsibility, trust, and the joy of childhood.”

  82. BMS May 11, 2011 at 8:32 pm #

    It would be nice if one of these years we didn’t have a cub scout event on this day!

    But it’s not a really big deal around here. Half the time I come home and ask my husband “Where are the kids?” and he answers “Not sure. Outside somewhere maybe?”

    This translates to: the kids are out biking, or building something in the back yard, or shooting off stomp rockets, or catching bugs, or whatever, and they’ll be fine without me sticking a homing device on their behinds.

  83. Sue May 11, 2011 at 8:38 pm #

    Mine go to the playground on their own regularly. I love that you have dedicated a special day for it and if they can’t be there at 10 I’ll make sure they get there sometime on the 21st.

  84. Martin May 11, 2011 at 8:46 pm #

    My wife and I will be sending our 4 and 2 year old off to the park. We live 4 blocks from there!

  85. Susan May 11, 2011 at 9:38 pm #

    My kids will be taking part in Get To The Park Yourself Day as they do most days. My 6 and 7 year old children ride their bikes to the park after school. It’s about a two minute bike ride for them.

    My 9 year old does not spend as much time at the park as her siblings, but she does like to go to the school to shoot baskets.

    I will make sure they are all out and about on Saturday.

    As a happy side note, our neighborhood seems to have an increasing amount of kids out and about by themselves in the last several months. I’m not sure what to credit that to, but it is very refreshing.

  86. K May 11, 2011 at 9:43 pm #

    Does it count if EVERY Saturday, while one or another kid plays soccer, the others all go to the playground elsewhere at the park on their own?

  87. Nancy May 11, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

    My son and his friends will be there (8 yo.). They will be riding their bikes (alone) and crossing one of the busiest street in town by themselves. They will not have a cell phone; however, they will be wearing helmets:).

  88. Nelly May 11, 2011 at 10:26 pm #

    My 3 kids are 2 1/2 and 6 months (twins). But just wait a few years and yes, they’ll be there!

  89. Heather Fitzgerald May 11, 2011 at 10:34 pm #

    We’ll be trying

  90. Heather Fitzgerald May 11, 2011 at 10:36 pm #

    Sorry, accidentally clicked publish before I was done. What I was going to write is that we will be trying this for the first time this year with our 9-year-old daughter who has been dying for a little more independence. She will walk to the local park in our downtown Toronto neighbourhood with a friend and we will pick them up after 1.5 hours–that’s assuming the weather is nice which is iffy according to Environment Canada!

  91. crowjoy May 12, 2011 at 12:32 am #

    Count us in!

  92. Paula May 12, 2011 at 12:50 am #

    On one of the other message boards the usual hysteria is coming out because of this. I do have one question though. There is a lot of interviews with the parents of Maddie Mccan at the moment what do free range kids parents think of a set of parents who while happy to use the free child minding service at the resort refused to use the paid child minding service and go out every night leaving 3 small children alone even after the eldest said the others cried for them and they where unhappy being left.

  93. Jennifer Herb May 12, 2011 at 2:00 am #

    My 6 year old daughter will be taking part in the ‘Take your kids to the park and leave them there day.” In fact, she is currently learning to ride a 2 wheel bike so I can send her to the park (2 blocks away) all by herself.

  94. Brigid Keely May 12, 2011 at 2:28 am #

    I’m taking my kiddo out, but he’s only 2, so I’ll be sticking around. 🙂 I’m trying to find a local group to hook up with as well.

  95. Sarah May 12, 2011 at 2:40 am #

    The kids already have plans that day. But they will be spending the summer riding their bikes to the pool, the library, the park and friend’s houses. Without me.

  96. Jenny Islander May 12, 2011 at 3:45 am #

    I don’t think my seven-year-old is quite ready, but I recently celebrated Send My Kid to the Potty By Herself Day. This involved crossing a two-lane street at a non-lighted crosswalk, going into a building out of my line of sight, and asking store personnel for the ladies’ room key, then remembering to turn in the key and coming back the same way. Meanwhile the other two kids and I finished our lunch at an outdoor bench.

    Not a single hitch. From what I saw, she was more likely to be over-cautious about traffic than heedless.

  97. Jenny Islander May 12, 2011 at 3:48 am #

    @Paula: Considering the situation apart from the tragic outcome, if the kids are upset, it’s time for the parents to rethink what they’re doing. I left my 4-year-old and 17-month-old in the car while I walked my 7-year-old into a building for a Scouts event. However, it ended up taking me 20 minutes to get her signed in instead of the usual 5 minutes or less. My 4-year-old was scared and crying by the time I got back. Was she safe? Yes. Will I do it again anytime soon? No. The important thing is that she was afraid.

  98. Megan May 12, 2011 at 7:35 am #

    I can’t wait to participate in a few years! My son is only four months old but I love the idea!! We are definitely going the free range route!

  99. Dolly May 12, 2011 at 8:25 am #

    When mine are older we will take part in the day.

    I will take mine to a park that day and make them play by themselves for a bit. Its a start!

  100. sherri May 12, 2011 at 8:29 am #

    On May 21st the boys (5 & 8) will be with me visiting the garter snake dens, but they will probably at the park by themselves any other day.

  101. Nicola May 12, 2011 at 8:42 am #

    So long as the weather is nice, my 9 and 10 year old will be outside. They ride their bikes to school on a daily basis, and are allowed to go to the park whenever they want provided there is enough daylight to see them safely home when the appointed time arrives.

    Yep. It’s not just a day for us – it’s a way of life.

  102. Dolly May 12, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    Those kids are awesome! 🙂

  103. Karin May 12, 2011 at 8:52 pm #

    We let the kids go to the park any time they want so every day is “Leave Them There Day” . We have the opposite problem with the kids though…they are 9 and 7 and won’t do anything by themselves. We literally have to shove them out the door to go play…and they have no clue how to entertain themselves or make friends. sigh…

  104. Amanda May 12, 2011 at 10:30 pm #

    The kids in the jungle even made their own fire!

  105. Sean May 12, 2011 at 11:48 pm #

    We’re doing it as a communal group, with about 9 kids thus far from my various friends. We’re even letting them ride their bikes over instead of driving them. Our plan for the day is to go shoot paintball (Why should the kids be the only ones to have fun with their counterparts about?),

    I think parents need some non-parental time in their lives, which is becoming less and less these days as we become more paranoid about letting kids out of our sites

  106. beckyS May 13, 2011 at 2:02 am #

    As someone who keeps pet tarantulas, I just had to say–squee!! What a beautiful spider!

  107. Kaylee May 13, 2011 at 3:22 am #

    I don’t have kids yet 🙁 But if I did I would be sending them off to the park to have fun

  108. Tasare May 13, 2011 at 4:56 am #

    My daughter is only four, but I’m hoping other kids are going to the local park for the same thing. I plan to take her, then hang around on the sidelines and read my book like I usually do.

  109. Sue in South Carolina May 13, 2011 at 6:47 am #

    Is it okay if we Take Our Children to the Park…
    but let them pack their own PB&J sandwiches first?

    Loved that glimpse of life and the “Kid-Friendly Cooking” video! (I do think all children would be enthusiastic cooks and diners if we let them roast spiders.)

  110. Colleen May 13, 2011 at 8:11 am #

    I am not taking my child to the park. He is allowed to go every day with his friends, he goes to the school yard to play basketball and to the skate park to do “tricks” with his bike. We keep in touch with each other by cell phone. Ray and his friends range in age from 9 to 12.

    It was hard at first for some of the other mothers to let their kids go with Ray but he wore them down. All of our children in the neighborhood have proven that they are capable of amusing themselves. Another thing I have noticed is that all the kids that have been allowed to go out and play without supervision…have all lost a little weight since September.

  111. Melanie May 13, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

    I don’t take my kids to the park. They ride their bikes. They make sure they wear a watch and I tell them what time to come home. They are 9-13, but they’ve been doing this since our oldest was 9 and the youngest was 4.

  112. Becky May 13, 2011 at 7:00 pm #

    When my kids are a bit older, I will definitely do this! They’re 6 and 3 right now so I think they’re a bit young but if they were 10 and 7, I’d definitely be on board!

  113. aly in va May 13, 2011 at 9:43 pm #

    I’m going to let my 7 year old walk to the playground by herself and give her the extra cell phone with a timer on it. She can play until the timer goes off, then she has to call to say she’s on her way. The playground is only two streets over with about 3 rows of houses separating us. Nex time I may let her sister (3) tag along w/her…..maybe.

  114. surfingmama May 14, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    Yes – my 6 and 11 year old daughters will walk themselves to the playground and the public library. And yes, we live in a large city (San Francisco).

  115. DrPretzel May 14, 2011 at 10:51 pm #

    My boys get on their bikes and ride the 4 blocks of residential street to the park. They each have a watch and know when to check in (which usually means asking “when do we check in again?”).

    Strangely, they always come back in one piece. And they don’t really need my help for much because I raised them to be self-reliant.

  116. Janet May 15, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    @Jenny Islander – the situation of your distraught 4yo is exactly what is on the minds of legislators in my neck of the woods (NSW, Australia) when they formulated their laws for (or against) leaving children unattended in motor vehicles (see http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/caypapa1998442/s231.html).

    Taking my children to the park? You bet. The girls (8, 6 and 4) will probably go. Then the twin 2yo boys will want to go, so I’ll have to go too. (I’d like to think I could trust them not to walk to the road, but I know I can’t from recent experience – I’m usually the head-in-a-book-or-iPhone type, so I am often not “supervising” their play.) But I shall be leaving them to it – maybe I’ll even stay under a tree in the corner so they forget I’m there…

  117. Janet May 15, 2011 at 3:05 pm #

    Oh, and @Jenny Islander, I have done exactly the same: left my younger children in the car while running an older one into something or other. If the younger ones show any sign of being unwilling to wait in the car, I suck it up and take them. I completely understand why you don’t plan to do it again. Emotional distress is real.

  118. Cin May 16, 2011 at 9:18 am #

    Yup, my nine- and six-year-old will be participating.

  119. Raven May 16, 2011 at 2:51 pm #

    Not only do my older children (9 and 11) go to the park alone, but my son (9) walks the last block to his home school group on days I need to rush home again, my EDtr (11) goes to the store for me and rides her bike 2 miles to and from school…AND both these two take the 45 min bus ride (with a change over at an exchange) to skate lessons. I’m just *waiting* for the warmer weather to finally arrive so I can justify sending them to the park half a mile away. I won’t just be leaving them there, I won’t even take them myself!!


  120. Lihtox May 17, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

    My daughter’s almost 4, and I definitely wouldn’t send her to the park by herself: she knows the way, and it’s walkable and safe and all that, but I don’t think she’d know what to do if something went wrong. When I take her to the playground, though, i sit on a bench and read a book: not sure if this is free-range or just lazy on my part. 🙂

    I know that I walked to kindergarten by myself when I was 5, so that seems like a good age for kids to start wandering around a bit.

  121. Denise Diaz May 20, 2011 at 10:13 am #

    any chicagoans out there who want to participate with me and my 7 year old? email me [email protected]


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