'Freerange' Parenting: How much do you know?

Staff

4 Min Quiz

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About This Quiz

If you think the term "freerange parenting" has a parallel to chickens, you're not too far away off from the heart of the movement. Newspaper columnist Lenore Skenazy inadvertenly started the movement when she wrote a piece for the New York Sun on how she and her husband allowed their 9-year-old son to ride the New York City subway system by himself, something he had always wanted to do. Test your freeranging parent smarts now.

Parents are acutely aware of the dangers that face their children, but most people don't realize that crime rates in the US were on the rise during the 1970s and '80s and peaked in 1993. Since then crime has declined by 50 percent.

Overall crime has declined in the US, but 24-hour news cycles can create the appearance that crime is everywhere all the time, a point that freerange parents make when encouraging parents not to become paranoid about their child in the world.

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Freerange parent and author of "Why I Let My 9-year-old Ride the Subway Alone, " Lenore Skenazy gave her son the following items for his first trip alone on the subway:

Skenazy gave her son quarters in case he needed to use a pay phone. In the course of prepping her son for the ride (which included test runs) and discussing his option, she felt that he was independent enough to do without a cell phone and was armed with a way to navigate the city and subway as well get in touch with her if he needed to.

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Skenazy says of freerange parenting on her blog, FreeRangeKids:

Cultivating independence is central to free-range parents, rather than cultivating parent-assisted independence, which according to Skenazy doesn't give the child the satisfaction of truly realizing that she can do something on her own.

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A research team at the University of Michigan conducted an assessment in 1981 and again in 1997 of how children spent their day. Among the findings:

Kids in 1997 played less and less free time. According to the American Journal of Free Play, author and psychologist Peter Gray, today's kids are missing out on opportunities to be physically active, tap into their creativity, gain social skills, manage risk, regulate their emotions and become self-reliant.

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Bullying happens when a child is given too much time to play.

Play time gives kids the opportunity to work on social skills, much of which require the ability to handle disputes. Research demonstes that play stimulates the genes that govern nerve growth in the frontal cortex, the executive portion of the brain, allowing kids to mature in their ability to govern their emotions and behavior.

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What's more important in freerange parenting?

Age-appropriate independance allows a parent to define boundaries for his or her child and set guidelines.

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When Lenore Skenazy published her article on letting her son ride the subway alone she was called:

Skenazy received hate mail from all over the world. She started the freerange movement so that she could better explain her perspective and get to the bottom of why cultivating independence in her child was such a hot-button issue.

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In a University of South Wales study, Australian primary school children and their parents were studied to see how environmental and psychological elements factored into parents' decision to allow their children more independence. What was more important?

Among other things, the findings of this research suggest that making parents feel more secure in encouraging their child's independence has more to do with how strong the community is than the urban design of the community.

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The Centers for Disease Control report that the percent of children who bike, walk or otherwise get themselves to school is:

Today it's just 13 percent, but In 1972, when many of today's parents were kids, a whopping 87 percent of children who lived within a mile of school walked or biked every day.

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The idea of slowing down and raising your child in a less scheduled and harried manner is a hallmark of the freerange and slow parenting movement. When an elite Scottish private school banned homework for kids younger than 13 there was outcry by parents; however by year end the homework-less kids' scores in math and science actually improved by what percent?

Twenty percent -- it's thought that the homework ban succeeded with kids under age 13 since they had more free time to play and could devote more time to the subjects that were most difficult for them. Research published by London's Institute of Education found that homework was a cause of "anxiety" and "emotional exhaustion" in many families and said stress was at its highest when parents tried to take too much control of how children were approaching their homework. A survey in 2000 found that parents said they spent an average of seven hours a week on their children's homework.

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