My Daughter’s Highlight of 2021: Walking Home without Me

"It took everything I had not to meet her at the bus stop!"

This post comes to us from Erica Schoder. Iowa-native Erica runs a think tank in Washington, DC, from her ex-pat base in Munich, Germany, where she lives with her partner Alex and daughter Leonora (pictured!). In her former life, Erica was a bookseller, and she loved recommending Lenore Skenazy’s Free-Range Kids to curious parents. When she became a parent herself and re-engaged with the Free Range network, she discovered Let Grow. She is happy to report the results below:  

Dear Let Grow:

This being the New Year, we were JUST talking about our best moments of 2021 and for Leonora, now 7, it was her first time walking home from the school bus alone.

It was September and she was still 6. We’d practiced her route and crossing the intersection all summer. It took everything I had not to meet her at the bus stop that day! But I stayed in the apartment and waited by the intercom for her to press the buzzer. 

I remember seeing her exhilarated little face as she bounded up the stairs to our apartment. “Mama, I walked all the way here ALL BY MYSELF!” she exclaimed. She said she had a funny feeling in her tummy, a mixture of fear and excitement and pride.

Now, traditionally, in Germany, this is about the time kids start doing this sort of thing. They conscientiously teach elementary age children how to cross streets alone and equip them with a little yellow training vest. And my German neighbors were supportive.

But we are surrounded by a diverse ex-pat community in Munich and the Americans in the bunch were skeptical. I credit Let Grow for giving me stories to share and moral support as I persuaded them to give it a try. If not here, where? It won’t be so easy to give them independence in America!

Eventually, my daughter’s best friend Veronica, age 8, the daughter of a US consulate staffer, was able to walk home solo this year, too. Every small win matters, right?

Thanks for being such a force for good in the fight for childhood independence, I’m really thankful to be part of this cause! Let me know if there is anything I can do to be more helpful. — Erica

Glad about all of this, Erica! Anyone who wants to support Let Grow should take a look at our School Programs (all FREE) and see if their child’s teacher or school might be interested in trying them. Why not? Independence is around the corner (so to speak).

Leonora, The Girl, 6, Who Walked Home!