Re: Adult Supervision of Children in the Common House
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Mon, 14 Mar 2005 06:52:36 -0800 (PST)

On Mar 14, 2005, at 8:39 AM, Zeke Holland wrote:

I am a member of a cohousing community in Maine. Our Common House is currently under construction and the projected completion date is in April/May of this year. We are in the process of setting up a framework/structure and expections for the CH. Since we have children ranging in age from under 1 to 16 year olds, we are thinking about if and when do we want or need adult supervision of children.

We are an urban community and our commonhouse is always locked. We have keypad entry. Interior rooms are also locked -- office, workshop, exercise room, kids room, game room. The living room (TV), kitchen, dining room and laundry room are open. All adults have keys. Kids do have the code for the keypad entry because they go through the commonhouse to go to their homes.

Essentially kids are not supposed to be in the commonhouse without supervision. This isn't just so the kids won't damage anything but because we can't guarantee the security of the commonhouse to ensure that someone who wanted to molest a child would not be able to get in. In general, it's felt that young children should not be able to hang out in buildings where there are too many nooks and invisible crannies for them to be taken to. They do play alone on our green and tot lot which are open to view by many units.

In practice when kids are around 10 they do spend time in the commonhouse with other kids or go in before their parents arrive. By 12 they watch TV alone for limited periods of time. We know that they parents or another care giver knows where they are, what they are watching, etc. If groups of kids congregate, parents are close by or in and out.

Young kids, under 8-10 are always supervised. The kids room and the game room are locked so the adult who opens the door will assume responsibility for ensuring that the room is picked up when they re-lock it. Parents have had problems with their children being let into rooms when they don't know they are there. We have had 6 children who were adopted as older children and have arrived with varying expectations about what respectful use of property This has increased supervision.

Children are not allowed in the kitchen unless carried there or accompanied by an adult. Babies are taught not to crawl over the line in the floor that goes from wood to linoleum. By the time they are toddlers, they stop at the line. This is important for safety since they could run though the kitchen as someone is carrying a heavy pot of hot food or some such. There are also many things in there that they shouldn't be playing with. We've child proofed stuff but you never know.

In a rural area with different kids, it could be very different. One reason we lock the kids room for example is that we have many adults who do not have children but do have guests with children. The guest's children would wander in and trash the kids room and the adults were not kid savvy enough to know how to clean it up or that it should be cleaned up. We also have frequent meetings to which people will bring kids. They play in the play room but having to have an adult open the door is the clue that if you turn that lock, you clean it up.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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