FW: Kids
From: Rob Sandelin (robsanmicrosoft.com)
Date: Tue, 21 Jun 94 11:44 CDT
I having been going through some old cohousing mail and archiving some 
things and ran across this personal message I sent to a member of Puget 
Ridge. Thought you'all might find it interesting also....

1/3 of Sharingwoods population is kids.  They have had, and continue to 
have a large impact on our community.

Each adult in the community has been given explicit permission to 
handle discipline of kids as needed and appropriate and all adults have 
committed to child response, meaning any kid can go to any adult if 
they need help. This was an actual agreement made although it probably 
didn't have to be.

We have a kids/parents committee who deals with kids and parenting 
issues which meets monthly. Our current task is to define, with the 
kids, acceptable and non-acceptable behaviors from visiting kids from 
up the street and how to deal with unacceptable behavior. In the past 
we have talked about parenting issues, discussed things such as potty 
training, physical contact and what is OK and not OK, and other 
parenting support type of issues.

Kids are one of the primary ambassadors of our community. Through their 
friends in school, and the adjacent neighborhood they bring other kids 
into our playground, campground and woods. Those kids then relate back 
to their parents.  We have found some good, and some bad contexts from 
this.  Many parents in the adjacent neighborhood feel comfortable 
having their kids play with ours and some even bring their kids down 
the street and use our playground.  There are some supervision issues 
which we are working on currently.

This causes some problems however when "outside" kids don't have the 
same values as we do.  For example dogs are not allowed to run around 
loose at Sharingwood. Kids who bring dogs have to tie them up (We 
provide a couple of ropes on a post).  This took awhile to get 
understood and now most the kids just leave their dogs at home, which 
was our intent in the first place.

We have set up a childcare coop and swap evening and weekend child care 
using play money to track time. Everyone starts with $100 in play money 
and the play money is used to track your level. If you start running 
short it means you need to do some more child care. If you accumulate 
money you need to go out more. We are probably going to expand the uses 
of this play money for chores and such but right now it is just used 
for childcare.

We have on-site daycare for a couple of the kids which is a business 
run by one of the members from her home and we will be using the 
commonhouse for this when ever it gets to the state it will house such 
things. There seems to be no problems with the membership about one of 
the members using the commonhouse for her daycare business but that is 
something that if you do it also you will want to thoroughly check out. 
(of course since our commonhouse is several months away from being 
reality, this is still all theoretical)

We try and have a monthly kids activity that is special such as a 
party, a campout, a hike, crafts etc.

We hire a couple of local baby-sitters to do childcare for the general 
meeting and one adult from the community each month is in charge of 
coordinating a snack and an activity (although our baby-sitters usually 
come armed with stuff for the kids to do).

We have a playground, a children's garden and will be building a 
treehouse this summer.  The kids spend a lot of time just riding bikes 
and playing in the woods and having trikes and riding toys scattered 
all over the road is one of the best enforcers of our 10mph speed limit.

Some the families have trouble at community dinner getting their kids 
to eat anything.  It is a somewhat loud and distracting environment and 
some of the parents are not happy with the lack of "family" dinner 
time.  A couple have dropped out of dinner to be able to spend time 
with their kids over dinner and also control their behavior better. It 
is interesting that other communities put more control on the dinner 
environment than we do and I wonder if we really created a community 
covenant to change the environment and the rules if it would work 
better.  A simple rule like no kids in the playroom until 6:30 (we 
start dinner at 6) would perhaps keep the kids at the table with their 
parents rather than running off to play.

Kids are currently not involved in any of the community business 
meetings, although the older kids are welcome and when we make rules 
about kid issues such as behavior the kids are equal contributors to 
the process.  The older kids (10 and up) have a standing invitation to 
attend meetings. They have not, and who can blame them? It's much more 
fun catching frogs.

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