I've mentioned before that we live in a town that does not provide bussing to school for children within town limits. They simply live too close to the school to qualify. So Nature Girl walks to school. Once she was used to the walk she began doing it on her own. She's a month shy of turning eight. She's been diagnosed with ADHD, although it does not present itself if she is working one on one with someone in a quiet controlled environment.
Papa Pan works "in the city". He works with kids who are considered "flight risks" so they are literally bussed a block to school and not allowed out of the school without direct supervision. He also works with kids with ADHD.
He was mentioning to a co-worker that we have Nature Girl do this walk on her own. He said that despite our initial misgivings about the distance it has really helped her ground herself in the morning so she can perform better in school. He mentioned that the 40 minute walk home often takes her 2 hours because she NEEDS that time to decompress and use up all that stored up energy- digging in the dirt, following snails, worms, looking for rocks, simply being outside in nature. We've been doing quite a bit of reading on not looking at ADHD as a medical condition but a "type" and it is one that needs Nature and Exercise. It describes Nature Girl perfectly (Richard Louv talks about it in Last Child in the Woods and Stephen Putnam deals with it exclusively in Nature's Ritalin for the Marathon Mind: Nurturing your ADHD Child with Exercise. Well the coworker found the idea of a GIRL this age being allowed to walk to and from school on her own very alarming.
I'd agree if we lived in the city. Not because it is "the city" and there'd be more traffic, but because despite the increase in population density she would very likely not know or be known by as many people on her walk. As it stands she passes lots of known neighbours, lots of classmates homes, her occasional babysitter's home, and her teacher's home on the walk. We live in a small town, word gets back to you if your kid is causing mischief. The school sees walking to school as a "safe" activity and even promotes it with a "Walk to School Week" early in the school year to encourage parents to ditch the "Drive Them" mentality.
Nature Girl knows not to accept rides from KNOWN people or strangers. She knows not to go into a friend's house without getting my permission first. We know if she isn't home when we want her home what route she takes and where she veered off (the botanical garden is her home away from home)and we can find her quickly.
What do you readers think? Is she being put at risk walking to and from school? Am I giving my free range kid too much freedom?