School Administrator Magazine asked Let Grow's president, Lenore, to write about the spike in childhood anxiety, its impact on students, and how Let Grow's initiatives are making kids into more confident self-starters. She wrote:
Lost Learning: The Age of Bubble-Wrapped Kids
by Lenore Skenazy
Most veteran educators, indeed most adults, fondly recall their childhoods spent playing outside with friends, climbing trees, or riding their bikes until the streetlights came on. Another generation from now, those activities might sound like helping mom churn butter or running off to trap muskrats.
The culture of childhood is always changing, of course. Yet for many of today’s kids, any semblance of independence has been replaced by supervised, structured activities from Kumon to karate.
Recently, I interviewed about 20 suburban elementary school students, asking them what would they really love to do on their own — what would thrill them?
“I want to go to judo by myself,” one 3rd-grade boy responded.
“How would you get there?” I asked. “Bike? Skateboard? Walk?”
He looked a little perplexed. “I would open the car door. Look boooooth ways,” he said, pantomiming. “And then I would walk into the class while my mom parked the car.”
His dream of independence was about 87 seconds without his mom.
If he was the only one dreaming like that, he’d just be some sad, sheltered kid. But in fact, he is pretty representative. Today, about 11 percent of youngsters walk to school, according to Safe Routes to Schools. Upon dismissal, or “pickup” as it’s now known (a telling neologism), legions of youngsters head to another adult-led activity. Of course, nothing is wrong with learning chess or lacrosse or another skill. But there is something very wrong with kids losing almost every chance to make something happen on their own.
“Nothing we do, no amount of toys we buy or ‘quality time’ or special training we give our children, can compensate for the freedom we take away,” [Let Grow co-founder] Peter Gray, a psychologist at Boston College, wrote in his book Free to Learn. “The things that children learn through their own initiatives, in free play, cannot be taught in other ways.”
Here's the rest of the article.
And here's Let Grow's page for teachers and school administrators. If you have any questions or would like your school to consider doing our social-emotional initiatives, please feel free to drop us a line at Info@LetGrow.org.
Here's to resilience and resourcefulness!