Re: scattering the play structures or putting on commonhouse plaza
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Wed, 12 Jul 2006 06:03:34 -0700 (PDT)

On Jul 12, 2006, at 8:34 AM, Shelly wrote:

I think this is a mistake and we should be creating a fun, multi-age play structure in front of the common house so people and children will gather there. But maybe I am wrong?

Children under 4 or so need to be separated from the older children and they need to be near their parents so you need them near where the adults are gathering so they can be watched without isolating the parents from other adults. But once kids are old enough to kick balls around, they really need to be away from conversation areas.

We have a tot lot outside the commonhouse kids room and next to the piazza where adults congregate. The kids have a small slide, etc. on rubber mulch and riding cars that they ride around the piazza. This works very well. These plastic toys have a size limit of 50 pounds so its a natural age break. We buy the stuff at the local thrift shop. There is lots of mixing of kids and adults.

Then we have a green off the piazza where kids set up wading pools in the winter and have played ball and wrestled in the past. It runs between the houses so only softballs can be used there and no bats. Lots of adult supervision.

The problem is that we now have 8+ year olds who need much more space and want to kick soccer balls around. They have a basket ball hoop in the parking lot and that works for a while but they really need a place away from grownups where they can run and yell and whack things. This could be a space where adults play also making it multi-generational, but not the space where adults want to read or talk or just sit outside.

Multigenerational only works for kids over (and under) a certain age, and if it is away from the places where adults want to have conversations. Not all adults will want to be in or near the play space except on special occasions like the annual play-off or something.

The age at which parents are comfortable with their children running around outside of adult view varies. Our 4+ year olds are beginning to be allowed to run about the commonhouse or go home from the piazza alone but they would not be allowed to play alone in a play area out of site even with older kids around. Kids here are closer to 8 before I see parents allowing them to ride bikes alone, on the property. I think this would be true of any play area out of adult view.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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