Welcome to “I Won’t Supervise Your Kids!”

Hi Folks: Welcome to the first after-school class that lets kids play outside, together, unsupervised — the greatest developmental boon a parent can give a child!

Our first session is Weds., Sept 12. Ages 8-18 welcome. We’ll meet at the entrance to the “Ancient Playground” in Central Park, at 85th St. and Fifth Ave., at 3:45 p.m. I’ll be there to say hi — then I’m off to sip my latte. Kids can be picked up at 5:15, or they can head home  on their own — it’s up to you. (And them!) If your child owns a watch, have him/her wear it. Otherwise, the kids can ask folks what time it is. While many people think that children being someplace with “strangers all around” is dangerous, actually it means there are people all around who can help if anything goes wrong. Central Park is the safest precinct in New York,  which is the safest large city in the country.  

Parents must sign a waiver that absolves me of anything and everything — see the name of this class! — and payment is $350 (cash or check; scholarships available for the asking) for 8 sessions: Weds. Sept 12 – Nov. 7, with a week “off” on Sept 26 for Yom Kipur. On Weds., Oct. 31 kids can play as usual, or they can go trick or treat together.

Why a fee? Well, why not? I’d love to make a living bringing kids back outside to play. But also: Parents are used to paying for classes. Pay for something and you put it on your calendar. It’s a commitment. And when you pay, you expect to get something in return.

Your children will — and so will you.

The whole idea of this “class” is for kids to have a chance to do what we did: Play, on their own. This is not only fun, it’s formative — especially when it’s a bunch of children of different ages – because play is Mother Nature’s super vitamin. She made it the default mode for children so they’d do a lot of it, and it’s only in the past couple of decades that we replaced it with constant classes, coaching and computer time. Today’s kids spend an average of more than 7 hours a day on “entertainment media,” according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study.  In a typical week, only 6% of children ages 9-13 play outside on their own. Isn’t that a little shocking?  

Now, my kids spend their fare share of time online and do some extra-curriculars, too.   Nothing wrong with any of those. But there is something uniquely right about free play. As Harvard psychologist Susan Linn puts it:

…play is the foundation of intellectual exploration. It’s how children learn how to learn. Abilities essential for academic success and productivity in the workforce, such as problem solving, reasoning, and literacy, all develop through various kinds of play, as do social skills such as cooperation and sharing.

Play also boosts leadership. Focus. And friendship. I could add a bunch more great things it does, but all you really have to do is remember some of the best times you had when you were a kid. Chances are you weren’t at Kumon.

So here’s a chance for kids to meet up with other kids and actually, finally, DO SOMETHING ON THEIR OWN without an adult encouraging, nagging, watching, “helping.” What a relief for all concerned!

If you would like to hear more about the class, leave a note below or email me at heylenore3@gmail.com.

Hope to see you soon – and then to not see you!

Girls invited, too! For this kind of fun!

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64 thoughts on “Welcome to “I Won’t Supervise Your Kids!”

  1. While this seems like a fantastic idea to me, why would anyone pay $350 for it? Why not just let them play outside? And what stops people from simply just sending their kids and not paying? Or is the cost a joke? I’m confused…

  2. Hi! Lenore here.
    The fee serves two purposes.
    1 – To help me make a living! (I will be nearby the park, just not “supervising.”)
    2 – To get attention! Just saying, “Hey kids — go play!” does not create a stir. The kids remain inside. But a “real” class — the first time anyone has said that PLAYING is at LEAST as valuable as ballet or soccer — that’s NEWS! And news makes people think about things, like how come most kids are NOT spontaneously playing outside? – L.

  3. Love the idea. Ensuring that there is a group of kids all at the park at the same time, perhaps suggesting some activities or providing equipment (a ball, a badminton set, etc). Another useful thing would be if you gave them your phone number and committed to sipping your latte close to the park. Then they’ll have a person to call if someone gets lost or injured without parents having to rush to the park from work to get them.

    Don’t love the cost. I can see charging a symbolic amount, something like $5 a session, or a bit more if you provide the services above in addition to just saying hi. Otherwise sounds like a rip off.

  4. I think it’s brilliant! With all respect to the previous poster, the kids in my neighborhood do a much better job of coming up with activities than the adults do. I soon learned to keep my nose and lame ideas to myself. Sure it may be costly, but I assume any kid showing up at the playground can join in. It’s just that Lenore won’t won’t be supervising them. :)

  5. I love it! Hilarious. If I had the money and we lived in NYC, I’d be there in a heartbeat just to support your cause. As it is, I will continue to enjoy the land of the free where we send our kids outside or leave them home unsupervised with no fear… for free.

  6. Are you kidding? This has to be the most idiotic and dangerous idea I’ve seen in quite a while. Leaving your kids alone to play while you sip a latte? Are you really that naive or just that stupid? As much as we’d all like to think this city is safe enough to do something like this, it’s not. Letting kids discover things for themselves? Great idea. Totally for it. But leaving them alone in the park? How do you know they’ll even STAY IN THE PARK!? “Oh look, ice cream,” they’ll say as they all run out of the park and across the street.

    How about little Leiby in Brooklyn. His parents let him walk alone for the first time ever, he made one wrong turn, and was brutally murdered. And last year, a child was groped at Ancient Playground. Maybe you can Google that while you sit in Starbucks. How come kids aren’t spontaneously playing outside? BECAUSE THEIR NORMAL PARENTS WON’T LET THEM BECAUSE IT’S NOT SAFE!

    And if it is so safe and there’s nothing to worry about – WHY THE WAIVER!? MAYBE IT’S BECAUSE YOU KNOW THAT SOMETHING COULD HAPPEN, AND JUST IN CASE IT DOES, YOU WANT TO COVER YOUR ASS?

    If anyone gives you money for this, they’re as stupid as you.

    • Just because things DO happen, doesn’t mean they WILL happen. You’re bringing up this examples because it’s all that the news has shown you. Turn on your tv now, I’ll wait. See any stories about how many kids AND adults were unharmed this week? How many of them walked home or sat on the stoop and were perfectly fine? No? That’s because that doesn’t sell. Do terrible things happen? Yes. Every day. In the city, out on the Island, and everywhere else. But it doesn’t mean you should lock your kids inside your townhouse and tell them to be happy with their Wii. Kids are going to play outside. They need to play outside. At least in this situation, there is a group of them together, MUCH less likely to be harmed. You need to pull back from helicoptering your children. You can keep them perfectly safe without stifling their growth.

      • I agree with you but sitting in a coffee shop while your kids play elsewhere is not being a responsible adult. Kids can and should play outside, in groups or by themselves, but if a parent has time to sit nearby IN THE PLAYGOUND, why not do it? It’s taking precaution not helicoptering children. So many busy parents these days wish they could spend more time with their children but yet others are paying a ridiculous amount to have them play on their own, that makes no sense to me.

    • I have to agree. This is extremely dangerous. I grew up the daughter of a Federal Agent who worked in New York City, and that man wouldn’t let me out of his sight for 5 seconds for most of his life, because of what he saw there. And I never even lived in N.Y> while he worked there. For years afterward all he would do is teach me self-defense moves, tai kwon do and the like–and this was back in the 70′s/80′s. Don’t get me wrong–allowing your kids to play on their bikes in the neighborhood where you “know” the people, or even allowing them to play outside, in your yard, is one thing. But bringing them to central park and just dropping them off–AND…charging a $350 fee for it, AND making them sign a waiver. Come one–you want to make money for doing NOTHING (I mean who wouldn’t want that) and THEN having them sign a waiver to absolve you when one of them turns up dead. You sound awfully despicable as a human being to me! Just saying!

      • I aggree! and anyone crazy enough to pay this amount should be investing it on a better cause for thier child.

    • You are RIGHT. That is exactly how I see you!I took casesls in Real Estate Law several years ago when I managed the Mortgage Servicing Department of a local Savings and Loan. I am sure most of us were the same age, but I don’t think I ever referred to any classmates as kids.You are just young at heart, while I realized yesterday that I will be 59 this year. WHY does that sound so much older than 58.Have a great day Crissie, you will always be a kid to me.xx, Carol

  7. Yeah we used to do this when we were kids only it didn’t cost $350 to go to a FREE city park and play for FREE without adult supervision. Any parent who pays this lady $350 to sip a latte while their kids play in the park is an idiot.

    • Amen to Eddie! Right on… Hey, btw…I have a bridge to sell ya, if you’re willing to pay this chick $350. My bridge only costs $100–oh, and btw, you have to sign a legal “waiver” that will absolve me of any wrong doing, so you can’t sue me and get your $100 back when you discover the bridge isn’t real. :)

  8. Absolutely ridiculous. This is nothing less than an invitation for the child predator. Kinda like a free buffet to the molester but a huge bill to the parent. How about save the $350 and then put towards a summer camp. Kids are learning independence, science, sports, etc but under the supervision of counselors.

  9. A man allegedly groped a child in the bathrooms at Ancient Playground last year according to Gothamist. “Allegedly groped” is enough for me as a parent to nix this “developmental boon”. Incidentally, I think it’s worth noting that the photos you use are all from past centuries.

      • AMEN SISTA!!!!!!!!!!!! Except now, CPS is called bascuee someone has told the kids they don’t have to take this kind of treatment and we parenets are taking away their civil rights and their freedom as an American citizen . That came out of the mouth of an 11 year old. That was a definite, What would Jewel Dean do? (aka momma) moment. Where’s my damned fly swat?

      • You are insane!!! Any parent who does this should NOT be a parent. You are also sending out a message to predators! HEY COME ON OUT AND HAVE YOUR CHOICE OF WHICH CHILD YOU WANT TO ABUSE!! Have you lost your mind?!?!? Leaving children unsupervised in a place like a public park is neglect. Anyone can walk up, grab a child and that child may not ever be seen again. You can not risk a child’s life like that. My children play in our neighborhood, where I know the neighbors and I know the areas they are playing in. I wouldn’t let you watch my dog, lady!!

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  10. Pingback: Free Range Kids » NYC Kids! Come to Central Park This Afternoon!

  11. Dangers and the ridiculousness of the fee aside, I think the free range movement is missing some of the key motivations that were behind in the unsupervised fun of yesteryear. Namely, families had more children and less time to devote to them – so they sent them outside to get them out from underfoot while necessary chores were done (cooking, cleaning, washing). Multiple moms also stayed home and were not far out of earshot. Families at this time also had the luxury of knowing that most or all of the children their own kids socialized with were of the same socioeconomic background (can we say ‘suburbia’?) and therefore probably shared the same values which would result in basically the same level of respect among kids. Families also knew which were the ‘bad’ kids and would protect their kids from them.

    I applaud the goal of reinstating free play in lieu of scheduling every inch of children’s lives, but we need to do so in a modern way with an understanding of society has changed since we ourselves were children. We don’t need to go back to the days of ignoring children while we go about our daily lives – we need to build communities where they can play freely – and safely – and within our view.

    • Nicely said, Imprich

      Modern parenting is a prisoner’s dilemma — if we cooperate/act as a group to free the kids, we all get the benefits of crowdsourced supervision (at the same time kids learn how to not need it so much).

      But if you’re the only one on your block to send your kid(s) outside — not so much fun for them, plus no social safety net.

      I lean free range, but the times have changed, and it’s harder now to pull off. But – ironically, the biggest change is that everyone else on my block thinks it’s hard to pull off. Belief makes it poignantly self-fulfilling.

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    • “Multiple moms also stayed home and were not far out of earshot. Families at this time also had the luxury of knowing that most or all of the children their own kids socialized with were of the same socioeconomic background (can we say ‘suburbia’?) and therefore probably shared the same values which would result in basically the same level of respect among kids.”

      So feminism and desegregation are why kids can’t play outside alone?

      • Don’t you mean capitalism? Wages have dropped, jobs are being off-shored, and unemployment is high. Can’t blame feminists for that!

      • Women have to work these days, even if they don’t want to. Men used to earn a ‘living wage’ for them & their wives, but now to survive mothers also need to work in most instances just to survive.

    • OMG, I’m so glad we dont live in America if it is that unsafe to let your children play at the park by themselves!

      I do believe that if you are getting paid a fee, that the caregivers should be in eye or ear shot, though. I understand where the lady is coming from. She is just re-inforcing that our children’s lives should not he full of schedules. Children need to just be kids. Children are losing the sence of creativity and self because of all the outside scheduling and conforming being bestowed upon them. Let them be kids, before that art is lost, just as sewing, leathercraft, knitting, crocheting etc is getting lost in this day and age.

      Oh, and children in years go by, didn’t just get set outside to ‘get them out if the way, while chores etc were getting done’ they actually helped with the chores, then they were free to play outside. A lot of people in this day and age call it ‘child labour’ I call it responsability and life skills. Kids are becoming used to ‘being entertained’. How many teens now say ‘I’m bored, there is nothing to do. We need a skatepark, we need a basketball playground, we need this, we need that”. My answer to them, get out and do something, like get a job, volunteer for a worthy cause, stop whinging.

      • I suspect that cpmtuoers our luring our young into unhealthy, anti-educational activities thus leaving parents helpless to curb this disturbing trend. I say we give them all to people who know what to do with them. Like me.

  12. Ok! So you get your kid ready to go and have a fun filled adventure. Never mind that all he/she wants to do is play that game with the dogs and flying cape/build a fort/chill with their friends. But no, you’ve heard of this new thing. It’s all the rage. You have to do it.

    You show up in Central Park. You shell over $350, and hand your child over to complete stranger, but not before signing a waiver absolving this woman from any responsibility. Then you go about your day.

    Your child, whom I assume you love, is then left in Central Park to enjoy the company of several strangers; kids between the age of 8 and 18. Any of whom might be maladjusted, a child molester, or lice ridden. Or perhaps a kid who might want to teach your child new and exciting words. Then, after all this fun is over, your child is ready to head on home. On the MTA. By themselves.
    Good old reliable MTA. Let’s just assume that you don’t reside on the upper east side, let’s just say that you live in…Astoria.
    And lets assume that your kid smartly negotiates the 6 train, and gets to 59th street. In rush hour. 5:15, right? Perfect!
    Hey, what if the N is not working? Will your kid know to back track on the 6 to Grand Central and grab the 7? And then switch for the N? Or will he/she ask that “kindly” stranger for help. Or perhaps that slightly off gentleman will grace the car with his presence. You know, the one who stares at you while mumbling.

    Seriously, just how many of the people who think this is a ‘fantastic idea’ actually reside in New York? Because guess what? New York IS dangerous.

    Seriously, wtf?

  13. On the other hand, they can do this four doors down from our house. And, they do – all the time. 7, 9, and 11 play in the park, look after each other, and come home when they are thirsty. I love them so much that I want them to learn responsibility, independence, free play, and common sense – there’s no shortcut – these things come with experience.

    If I were there, though, I’d have a latte too, and not feel compelled to work because I have a few moments of peace.

  14. Love the attitude in this goofy post. For all the moaning and groaning that City-folk do about suburban boredom, since moving out to Suburbia, my kids have loads more “out of sight” time. My block has groups of kids running around and playing combinations of freeze-tag and hide-and-seek all afternoon. And summer was no different. I mean, they play Sardines! I want to play Sardines…but that would be weird. Creepy, even.

  15. I still don’t get how we have to pay you to do nothing. I can allow my kid to play with there friends for free. If you are so proud of you movement and feel you kids are fine on their own “get a job” instead of making money doing nothing and being nearby or organizing a play group that your kids are probably in to is not a way to teach your kids about life or work your teaching them to scam and freeload.

    • She said anyone who wants a scholarship can have one. In other words, feel free to drop your kids off for FREE. She stated in a comment above that “charging a fee” makes news. She’s trying to draw attention to the fact that kids are much safer playing outside then we think they are.

    • I have 2 10 speed folding bikes that need some work but are otsirwehe usable. If anybody wants them they are welcome. Otherwise I am going to throw them away. Accepting them gives you no obligation. If you later decide you don’t want them either pass them on to someone else or give them a decent burial.

  16. Are the fair amount of clowns posting not taking her site for what it is?!? Of course she’s not going to make any money off this. She’s simply expressing the importance of free play. The rest of it is a joke. I thought it was funny as hell. It took me a while to stop laughing.

  17. Get a real job. If you believe so strongly in your “cause”, then don’t make parents sign a waiver and take responsibility for your so called class, especially since youre planning to rob them of their hard earned money. Children need to be supervised.

  18. What the heck are you thinking, Do you know what the percentage of kids that get kidnapped every year. (It is…800,000 under the age of 18…with 2185 missing daily….58,000 of those kids are abducted by non family member…and about 200 are never found..) So if you want to risk that,…Well, I don’t know what your thinking, but I would never risk it. Especially from parks and public places where people are busy NOT watching. Just a welcome invite for something bad to happen. How about let them come to a closed in park or a bouncy house area or swimming or a gym or a zoo. The options are endless and you can pay a babysitter to sit with the kids while you sip your Latte……I would never, my kids play all the time, they imagine and dance and play school and jump on the trampoline and ride bikes. Really weird to ask 300.00 to not watch and have a play date for your kids while you sip your LATTE. Weird, weird….weird

  19. Lenore – I think you have a good idea in mind but we live in a society very different from the black and white picture you have posted on your blog. While playing outside without any supervision is a good idea, you also have to be aware of where it is done. Central Park may be safe but now that this news is being spread about this program, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a few molestors lingering around the park.
    I also understand that this is an invitation and you are not forcing any parent to agree with your ideas or to drop off their kid off at Central Park. I do however hope that your child(children) is never is a situation that was cause by your irresponsibility.

  20. LMAO. If anyone actually pays you for this, I want to meet them. I have quite a few fabulous deals for someone “smart” enough to pay for this [lack of any kind of service].

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  21. My guess is–this is just a message. Parents, we get so scheduled and our kids think they need to be entertained ALL the time with sports, extracurriculars and so on. I doubt this is a legitimate plan but moreso, a heads up to parents that kids need to be kids. Like we were kids. There was much that we learned that our kids are not even being exposed to. Kick your shoes off, have your kids do the same and let them figure out how not to be bored.

  22. You are insane!!! Any parent who does this should NOT be a parent. You are also sending out a message to predators! HEY COME ON OUT AND HAVE YOUR CHOICE OF WHICH CHILD YOU WANT TO ABUSE!! Have you lost your mind?!?!? Leaving children unsupervised in a place like a public park is neglect. Anyone can walk up, grab a child and that child may not ever be seen again. You can not risk a child’s life like that. My children play in our neighborhood, where I know the neighbors and I know the areas they are playing in. I wouldn’t let you watch my dog, lady!!

  23. Ignorance is bliss. I used to live in a fantasy world too where I was oblivious to the dangers in my own small community. This changed when I began working at the hospital on the psych. ward. I was shocked by the prevalence of child abuse within our region. Seeing firsthand how it shaped the development and personality of a person and their lasting pain, I would never intentionally put my child in a situation where they were at an increased risk to be abused. It breaks my heart to see that people are willing to sacrifice their children for publicity and a trend. Certainly “free play” should be encouraged and can be accomplished within a semi-structured and safe environment.

  24. Did you people who are freaking out over this not notice the ages for her “course”? She’s not offering this to toddlers! It’s for preteens and teens. Do you all really accompany your teenagers when they want to go hang out with their friends? Children are far more likely to be abducted or abused by people they know and trust than by strangers. Calm down, people!

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