We believe today’s kids are smarter and stronger than our culture gives them credit for.
We reject the idea that they are in constant physical, emotional or psychological danger from creeps, kidnapping, frustration, failure, baby snatchers, bad grades, disappointing playdates and/or the perils of a non-organic grape.
Somehow our culture has become obsessed with kids’ fragility and lost sight of their innate resilience. This concern grew out of good intentions! But treating kids as fragile is making them so. In fact, kids are “anti-fragile” — built not just to withstand some challenges, but to grow stronger once they do.
As Let Grow Co-founder Prof. Peter Gray explains:
“Children who have more opportunities than others for independent activities are not only happier in the short run, because the activities engender happiness and a sense of trustworthiness and competence, but also happier in the long run, because independent activities promote the growth of mental capacities for coping effectively with life’s inevitable stressors.”
That’s why Let Grow is creating a new path for parents, schools, and America itself. Our programs, outreach, and thought leadership focus not just on explaining where our culture took a wrong turn, but on real-world ways to get our kids back to having some adventures, solving some problems, and blossoming.
We are making it easy, normal and legal to give kids the independence they need to grow into capable, confident, and happy adults.
After her newspaper column “Why I Let My 9-Year-Old Ride the Subway Alone” created a media firestorm in 2008, Let Grow Co-Founder Lenore Skenazy went on to write Free-Range Kids, the book-turned-movement.
Then, in 2017, New York University Prof. Jonathan Haidt, co-author of The Coddling of the American Mind, was talking with Daniel Shuchman, a New York businessman and former Chairman of FIRE (The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression). Both were concerned about the increasing fragility of young people on campus. They believed this was caused, in part, by the new norms of American childhood: Ever less free time and free play, leaving young people unprepared for frustration, discomfort, and even free speech.
They reached out to Lenore, and to Boston College Prof. Peter Gray, author of a Psychology textbook used in colleges across America as well as the book Free to Learn. Gray has spent his career studying the way mixed-age, unstructured free play develops young people’s ability to work together, make friends, and grow resilient.
Together the four founded Let Grow, the nonprofit whose mission is to give kids back the developmentally crucial “vitamin” our culture accidentally removed from childhood: Independence.
At Let Grow, we come from a variety of backgrounds and beliefs, but we all agree that the free time and freedom to roam we had as children helped us become the independent and (usually) confident adults we are now. We recognize that there is no definitive parenting manual and never can be, but we all want our children to thrive, and do the best we can with the circumstances we are in at any given moment. We all believe passionately in Let Grow’s mission and capacity to effect change in how children experience childhood and growing up.
As Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
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