Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Free Range Kid

This year my kids started a new school. For my daughter this meant leaving her old school and friends and full day classes now that she is 1st grade. Thankfully her excitement at starting grade 1 tempered her sadness for leaving her old school. As for my son, he started half day kindergarten, which meant that he finally got to start school after 2 years of trying to join my daughters kindergarten class.

Like most schools around here the kindergarten kids go in to class at a different door than the bigger kids - all the way at the other side of the school - and I had him scheduled for morning classes so they both had to line up at the same time, and of course, if your late there's the need for a slip from the office. It's a big school too, a full block - the distance between those doors is probably the distance between my house and our corner store and we have to round 2 corners to get from door to door.

My dilemma, being in 2 places at once. My solution? Listening to my daughter.

On the second day of school as the bell rang and we stood in the kindergarten area waiting for my sons teacher to open the door she said "I'll go by myself! I know where to go!"

So with a kiss, hug and promise to pick her up after school she ran off gleefully to her door.

It took 5 seconds for her to be out of my sight and another 5 minutes for me to walk over to that side to see if she was still there. She wasn't.

6 and a half hours later I stood by those doors waiting for her to finish class. Of course she had made it to her door and lineup and came out of the school with her class as the bell rang. Safe and sound and as happy as a clam. When asked what her favorite parts of the day were it turned out that taking herself to the lineup ranked top along with music class and having 2 recesses. So, now each time we wait at the kindergarten doors she takes herself to her line when the bell rings.

To me this routine is nothing more than finding a way to make things work while being able to reinforce my child's sense of independence and my trust in her. I didn't think much of it until another kindergarten mother noticed her run off and was surprised at my comfort level having my 6 year old leave my sight. She said she wasn't sure she would have the nerve to do it. I only then realised we were 'Free Ranging' again as well as being practical.

As has happened before, I got that pang inside that said 'What do other mothers think? Do they think I'm crazy? Reckless?' The that wise voice inside, the one we know we should listen too when we hear it said "Who cares? You know whats best for your kids and know what level of risk is acceptable to you and that's all that matters."

The voice is right, my kid is safe, happy and proud of her abilities. She knows I trust her and I hope if we keep on trusting her she will always trust us.

1 comment:

martha brown said...

She is so grown up! I'm so glad that she has the confidence to go around the school on her own -- and that you have the confidence to let her :). You are both so very brave! I miss you all -- and please give S a big hug from me -- I think about her often.