Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Growing independence

When our summer break hits, my mind always turns to "big" ideas that have been waiting (im)patiently in the back of my brain. These are often things I notice about our children that need some, shall we say, course correction. I like to use our extra free time to gain some ground in an area in which they are lacking, or let us all explore something new, or a new way of doing something routine.

Anyway, a recurring "idea" that keeps bugging me is what I see as the kids' lack of independence. I was driving back home from a trip to the post office in our nearby small town right about the time the school buses were making their rounds. I noticed a small girl with a big backpack making her way to didn't look like she was headed home. The thought hit me hard again: when do my kids ever walk alone in town? Oh, yes, NEVER. You put five kids born close together + homeschooling + living on a seriously-busy road + the potential-child-harm-gestapo-government, you get...well, my children. : )

Of course I'm not saying they never do things on their own. They do plenty of activities around here that require responsibility and have consequences. It's the little things that you would never think of: how do you replicate choosing and paying for your own food in a lunch line? Send them alone into McDonald's? Someone would call the police on you. How do you replicate walking to a friend's house to ask if they could play? Adopt-a-neighborhood? Kind of freaky. And how about those hours I would spend biking around the country roads by myself trying to get lost? Do that now on this road, and you might as well start making up missing-child posters.

It's very hard to discern what part of me is just over-protecting and what part is not. I see a real need to get them used to making bigger decisions without us around, but I don't want to be irresponsible about it. Ideas, please?!


K said...

riding around Grandma's house on their bikes. less traffic.

the fair.

send 'em to Chilly Jilly's - no one would call the cops on you there. =)

Krista said...

Hi, Heather,
I loved this entry and the entry about the barn sale. Great blogging!
My dear friend in FL that homeschools talks often about this "independence" concept.
Here are a couple of ideas I have seen her use. Have your child inquire about something over the telephone ...have them look up the phone number of the store and call and ask if a certain toy or product is in stock and the cost of the item.
Have your child go up at a fast food restaurant and order the food and pay for it without any help from you.
Have your child call a friend and invite them over for a sleepover. Sign the children up for day camps at the YMCA where they will be on their own for the day and making their own decisions. Just a few ideas!
We will be in touch soon about getting together,

Anonymous said...

4-H --- Cloverbuds

Boy or Girl Scouts

I think there is just a lot more traffic anywhere today than when you or especially I was growing up --