|MagFest Circa 2009|
You know this gradual release of responsibility doesn't just apply to your students, I think it applies to parenting your kid too.
I remember the first time my kid, then 8 months old, asserted her independence. We were at the Magnolia Music fest sitting in the amphitheatre under the hazy sunlight of the Florida fall. My babe started to crawl away from us. I was curious to see how far she would go before she would turn around or freak out. She never did. She crawled about fifty yards uphill, never looking back. Obviously we went and got her.
I remember the first time she walked home to a friend's house from elementary. It wasn't too far. She was in fifth grade. She spent much of her elementary afterschool time in extended day with most of her friends too. Extended day is/was a working parent's haven where kids got their homework done and got to play outside. This one day was different as one of her friend's mom was going to be off that day. What typically got done at extended day, homework and play, got done, just in a different way.
Today she walked to a friend's house from school, untethered to me. I am sure it could be considered a 21st century horror, aka no cell phone, no "find my kid app." I figure let's try this out in small bouts. I never walked home from school or to a friend's house. The walk was always too far. We live like most of her friends within two miles of her middle school. The walk is and isn't that far. Although I imagined a million things that could go wrong AND I did ask a million questions about the process before I consented, she did make it and I knew she could. I just didn't know if I could. It was just an unfamiliar act---walking home to someone else's house with all of her friends rather than me picking her up and taking her and sometimes friends home.
But what I acknowledge most in myself as her parent is that if I don't let her practice the small stuff, she won't be ready for the big. And even if I can't prepare her for EVERYTHING and somethings just can't be PREPARED FOR, parenting is still the ultimate gradual release of responsibility.