Three schools in Long Island's North Shore School District are doing the Let Grow Project for the first time this week -- the project where teachers have the kids go home and, after discussing it with their parents, do one thing they feel ready to do on their own that they haven't done yet. In these overprotective times, it can take a project to push some parents into giving their kids the same freedom they enjoyed growing up.
Here are some of the tasks one plucky 8-year-old is considering:
Taking care of the dog all day
Going to the grocery store and buying things
Riding her bike around
Staying home alone
On her list as only "Somewhat challenging" is the idea of her calling up and making her own doctor's appointment -- a task that strikes us as almost entirely the purview of adults. You go, kid!
The great thing about the Let Grow Project is that it gets kids and parents thinking outside of the house (and car!). The world opens up at the same time parents' hearts and minds do. Kids blossom before our very eyes. Anxiety decreases as confidence grows.
It may seem odd that kids today aren't walking to school and hopping on their bikes the way previous generations did. This is not the fault of the kids, or even the parents. It's the fault of a culture that has taught us to automatically imagine everything that could possibly go wrong anytime a kid is unsupervised for more than a minute. "Home alone? The house could burn!" "Walking to school? She could get hit by a car!" Yesterday my own friend, whose son just turned 6, asked me, "What age was Etan Patz when he was abducted?" thereby turning a discussion of walking to school into a discussion of death.
This is a NEW way of thinking, but it is so ubiquitous it feels like a completely NORMAL way of thinking. We need help breaking the habit and that's what the Project does.
We will let you know which of these new frontiers the girl braves in the next few weeks!