|FW: Kids||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|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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