Where are the kids?

How much freedom do you give your kids? I didn’t give mine enough when they were little according to a smart-thinking dad and geographer, Daniel Raven Ellison, who is deeply concerned about the lack of free range children. For more ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children follow this blog or get my book Homemade Kids, out of the library. This post is by Nicola Baird, also see www.nicolabaird.com

Exploring London with dad and dog isn't the same as playing out in your nearest bit of woodland. Find out more by reading research by Daniel Raven Ellison

Exploring London with dad and dog isn’t the same as playing out in your nearest bit of woodland. Find out more by reading research by Daniel Raven Ellison

“Where have all the children gone?” sang Cat Stevens.

Or rather “where are the kids?’ as my husband might say… Mine have come home from school and are making some pasta before homework. They got to school on their own, and back again, but they haven’t done any exploring today.

OK, it’s February and cold, but what if it was a warm, long summer holiday day with light until late evening? where would they be then? Would they be out and about? Probably not.

Daniel Raven Ellison, a fascinating explorer and campaigner, has done research about children playing out and his work is published in London Essays at this link http://essays.centreforlondon.org/issues/green/londons-empty-childhoods/ I totally recommend reading it.

It’s sad research, but he has a positive outlook arguing:

London is full of great childhoods, so let’s let children out to enjoy them.

Can parents do that? Let me know what you think.

 

 

 

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7 Comments on “Where are the kids?”

  1. Kelly Webb-Lamb Says:

    Of course! As long as they stay in touch, I’m happy for my kids to be ‘out’, in fact, I wish they were out more. Especially as proper teenagers, I really don’t like the whole sleepover thing; they need to learn how to be out and about in the evening, keeping each other safe, having fun, and making sure they are responsible for themselves and each other.


    • Kelly, do have a look at Daniel’s research – it’s absolutely amazing showing how many kids don’t explore their locality at all partly because they are tempted in by devices (he doesn’t say this) and partly because their parents/carers create ways to prevent them. Dog walking is one of those ways, it’s supervision by any other name! As a in-another-life I wish-i’d been a geographer i adored the graphs and surveys he has done. there is a lot more wildlife in the woods than kids. And it’s a big, big shame. Nicola

  2. kirstwrites Says:

    Reblogged this on kirstwrites and commented:
    This blog has made me feel quite sad when I compare my children’s heavily supervised lives to the amount of time I spent as a child running wild with my friends. Like most of us who were children in the 70’s and 80’s, I came home when I was hungry or it was getting dark. I wish my children could have that, but I’d worry about them if I didn’t know exactly where they were. How do we give them more freedom?


    • Hi Kirst Writes, thank you for your visit and the reblog. In Daniel Raven Ellison’s research he reckons you can give 5-12yos quite a bit of freedom – they could say approximately where they were going, they could have phones if either you or they needed to contact your urgently. There is safety in numbers (often), and as my own children get older – they are both now teens – I’ve encouraged the oldest (and her school) to attend occasional first aid workshops. Children are in some bizarre way at fault too as they love to be near a wifi signal messaging in a group. Having the opportunity to play out doesn’t have to preclude using a phone loaded with social media too when back at home.

      Maybe your own children will enjoy Geo Cacheing which is a sort of treasure trail that helps the doer explore, but at the same time would mean you as mum had some idea where they were. My own final idea is to get to know people on your street and in your neighbourhood – who will probably look out for your kids & statistically aren’t as likely to abduct or harm them as their own members of their family (or increasingly their peer group if they are unfortunate enough to be in even quite distant association with gangs).

  3. mumvsmom Says:

    I grew up in Central London in the 80’s and was never allowed to play out. The city streets were a constant worry for my mum, and at times I resented her for not letting me play out with the other kids. Now I am a mum, I know I’ve def inherited her worrying ways- which is exactly why we made the move out of London. We’ve moved to California for an outdoorsey non city life….. Though I’m sure my own kids will grow up resenting me for something else…


    • Hi Mum v Mom, thank you for visiting. It’s so interesting hearing how our childhood experience then impacts on our own children’s experience. Both my husband and I grew up in the countryside and though we like visiting it we both felt living in the city was far preferable for ourselves and our kids (it’s the public transport v taxi of mum and dad). It sounds like you were very keen for you and your family to be outdoors more and it’s a wonderful gift for all of you. Try not to worry – just teach your kids the skills they need to deal with the sort of problems/disasters you anticipate! Easier said than done of course. Nicola https://homemadekids.wordpress.com

      • mumvsmom Says:

        Thanks for the message. So true. Grass will always be greener… I’m hoping for the best of both worlds. Outdoorsey sunny times in California and long summer holidays in London for that urban fix!! I do desperately miss public transport!


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