Friday, April 30, 2010

On childrens freedoms

On Kids Freedoms in New York City

Many times I am asked at what age you let your kids outside on their own. I have to admit that Raising Six Children does let you have many perspectives on this question and on the practice of freedom to give your children.

I believe a bit in routines and the freedom and safety and comfort ability that comes with routines. For example, our family has been riding our bikes to school for four years now. This means that we take one route which involved travelling down one block to the very end and another avenue across.
That's it. Back and Forth, the same avenue across and the same block up over and over. You start to have a very good understanding about what to expect, which sidewalks are wide enough for people and bikes. Which sidewalks you have to be extra careful on. After Checking with the 19th precinct of Manhattan, children under the age of 12 are allowed to ride their bikes, their tricycles and their two wheelers on the sidewalk. The older children and I, we are in the street.

We are lucky to live in a community where both these blocks and avenues pass several schools along the way so we a community of people getting their children to school in the morning and picking them up in the afternoon. There are crossing guards who we are not connected with our school, but we remember them on holidays, as they remember and recognize us all year long.

The school.....the routine.....provides a certain level of safety, and thus allows for certain freedoms I might otherwise not give.

For example, the thirteen and the twelve year old leave for school first, and have complete freedom getting there….as the route! The ten and eight year old leave second and I follow with the kindergartener. They can leave ahead of me (the 10 and 8 year old) being that I am travelling right behind them.
EVERYONE MUST take the ROUTE, no exceptions if they want to bike to school.

Walking the dog creates the same routine and rituals which also teach safety because the children going up and down the block on their own or around the block can understand how long it takes to run back home, what things might look uncomfortable to them.

Both these freedoms I offer the children at these ages and I find are quite different then just letting them ......go out.

Freedom in New York is not a gift when it is given to someone not ready to handle it. If your child has been asking for certain freedoms try to practice offering them routines such as:

-Going to the local deli, grocery store for milk or bread on Sunday nights.
-Taking a taxi to the corner where you live and letting them walk home (you follow behind after a local errand)
-Let them Pick up the Pizza or Chinese Food from the local restaurant if it’s close enough (prepay it, its easier)

These are the types of freedoms you can ENPOWER your child who is READY.

Be safe and know at one point they will have these freedoms and you are only helping them to learn how
To feel confident with them!

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