It’s Been a Year of Growth at Let Grow

From creative contests to great media hits, we really have a lot to celebrate!

Yes, it has been a crazy, awful, maddening year. But despite it all (sometimes because of “it all”), there were some truly great Let Grow moments. Thanks to everyone who has been following along in our journey and for doing your part to encourage childhood independence. Here are some of our favorite moments of the year.

We were awed and inspired with the Let Grow Independence Challenge.

This spring, as schools closed across America, kids ran home started to bake, bike, babysit, paint their rooms, play the guitar—even get along with their siblings. We weren’t surprised—we’ve been saying all along that kids just need some unstructured, unsupervised time to blossom like crazy. Our Independence Challenge asked for essays, pictures and videos of kids doing something new, on their own, and the results were so great they were celebrated in The Washington Post. Check out the highlight video and some of the entries right here.

Let Grow was featured front and center in the Chasing Childhood documentary.

Want to see what one reviewer called “a compelling documentary about a very current issue plaguing society that many have overlooked”? You sure do! Chasing Childhood premiered at the DOC NYC festival in November. It follows a bunch of kids longing for even one unscheduled afternoon who finally get their wish when their middle school assigns The Let Grow Project. A full-length documentary about Let Grow? Pretty much, yes. (Teachers, here’s the Project! It’s free!)

We made huge progress on new legislation for the Reasonable Childhood Independence Act.

Two Colorado state legislators—a Democrat and a Republican—had always wanted to co-sponsor a bill and finally found one they both loved: The Reasonable Childhood Independence Act. It declares that simply giving kids some unsupervised time (by choice or necessity) will not be mistaken for neglect. The bill passed the Colorado House unanimously. While Covid sent the legislators home just a week before the bill could enjoy a similar sweep through the Senate, we are confident it will be reintroduced, and now we are working with Texas, Idaho, Nevada, Nebraska, and South Carolina on similar bills, too! (Live in any of those? Get involved here.) We also created the first comprehensive, interactive map of all 50 states’ neglect laws

We experienced podcast fame with the Armchair Expert.

In September, Dax Shepard had Let Grow President Lenore Skenazy on his Armchair Expert podcast. They talked about everything from Dax’s childhood (bikes, jokes, girls) to Dax’s adulthood (motorbikes, jokes, Kristin Bell). They had such a great time, Dax ended up declaring that everyone should read our blog, try our school programs, and raise Let Grow kids. He’s got a million listeners—who are we to argue? By the way, you can read our article about Dax Shepard’s parenting style right here.

We completed a survey to show kids stepping up during COVID.

In April and May, Let Grow conducted a survey of 1600 parents and 1600 kids across the geographic and economic spectrum to determine how kids were faring. Countering the negative narrative of kids falling apart, 62% of the kids checked off “happy” versus 20% who checked “sad.” More than two-thirds said they were discovering new interests (origami, gangsters, bugs, fuses). And 73% of parents were gaining a new appreciation of their kids’ capabilities. The study also found that kids were helping out more around the home. The New York Times referenced the study in a look at childhood resilience. 

Play Club received major kudos in a peer-reviewed academic journal.

In December, the first academic journal article on the impact of a Let Grow Play Club was published. (See page 229.) At Play Clubs, schools stay open for mixed-age free play. Adults don’t intervene. The researchers found that Play Club participants were able “to work through problems on their own, without adult intervention,” developing problem-solving skills they don’t get “in the current, typical structure of kids’ play.” Evidence showing that kids in under-resourced neighborhoods play the least prompted the researchers to state: “We must approach expanding play to all students as a social justice issue.” (Educators: Here’s everything you need to start one at your school!)

We created the Let Grow Independence Kit.

Literally just days after it became clear that the pandemic was about to end traditional schooling as we knew it, Let Grow created an Independence Kit for teachers and parents. It’s an at-home version of our popular Let Grow Project, encouraging kids to do new things on their own—and parents to let them. Downloaded by more than 15,000 readers, including 3000 teachers, the free kit helped families realize that, despite the disruption, their kids were still learning—just new things, in new ways.

We started a Life Lessons video series.

Plenty of parents want to help their kids become competent, confident—and safe! To do that, those kids need some skills. Let Grow’s “Life Lessons” video series teaches them the basics. Our inaugural video, taught by an actual kid, is “How to Cross the Street.” It’s the first step—literally—toward independence and responsibility. We also did a video on how to do laundry at the laundromat. Look for more of these videos in the future!

We published so many articles that got parents thinking in new ways.

We published an average of three articles a week on our site, putting a Let Grow twist on parenting culture—a twist that says kids are smarter and stronger than our culture gives them credit for, so they don’t need adults ALWAYS hovering, helping, stepping in. You can get a feel for our take just by a few of these headlines:

We Need to Stop Mom-Shaming Over Kids’ Screen Time

When You Monitor Your Child’s Phone, You’re Invading My Child’s Privacy

Don’t Make Your Kid Go to College

Warning: A Crying Toddler Might Cause CPS to Suspect Neglect

Turns Out Soft Skills are Really Essential Skills

Stop Asking, “Where Were the Parents?” When Something Goes Wrong

We created so many great resources for parents and educators.

This year, we created dozes of printables (posters, calendars, learning kits, and more) that got downloaded tens of thousands of times, including a slightly tongue-in-cheek Let Grow Adulting Chart that gave teens stars for things like opening a bank account, or making a doctor’s appointment. You can see all of our printables right here.

For a year that was really pretty bad… it was not a bad year for Let Grow.  Not bad at all.