Ratio of Kids to Adults
From: Sharon Villines (sharonsharonvillines.com)
Date: Mon, 6 Nov 2006 06:59:03 -0800 (PST)
We started with 3 kids and now have 19, I think. Hard to count off the top of my head and another one just moved in. I love all our kids and spend a goodly amount of time with them, but there are tensions in the community. I'm wondering if there is some optimal ratio of adults to kids. What are the ratios in other communities and what feels optimum, too few or too many.

I suspect the best ratio is somewhere in the neighborhood of 1:4. When we hit approx 1:3 we started having tension between adult and kid dinners, use of the piazza, etc. Soccer balls vs reading. Perhaps it isn't the numbers so much as the ages -- the 6-10 year olds take up a lot more space than two-year-olds. Even the four-year-olds are making themselves known in new ways.

We are also dealing with childcare for school holidays which schools these days seem to have a ton of. All our kids are in different schools with different schedules so someone is always needing care for an older child. DC schools seem to suspend kids (boys) at the drop of a hat for 2-4 days.

We are urban so while there are very good parks and recreation spaces within a block or so, kids need adult supervision to use them. We have a small plot of land that we are going to fence as soon as we get historic review board approval but already there are a million ideas about how to use it -- big kids play area (ball kicking for soccer practice), gardening and composting, storage shed for bicycles and lawnmowers, parklike areas for adults, etc. These are not really compatible and the discussions will be long and heartfelt.

The New Yorker recently ran an article on the dependency ratios of various societies and their success economically. China now has a very favorable dependency ratio -- more workers than nonworkers -- which accounts for their success at the moment. When they swing in the opposite direction which they will with their stringent birth control policies, they are predicted to have serious problems.

I'm wondering about these ratios in cohousing. There is also the ratio in adults -- working to retired. In our community the ones doing most of the work are retired and in their 60's and early 70's.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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