children in Common House
From: Kimberly Wilder (
Date: Thu, 29 Oct 2009 04:14:56 -0700 (PDT)
As a former teacher, and a woman without children (only adored nephews) this 
question has pushed my buttons and made me feel overly advicey...



I do not live in a Community. Just starting to visit some.

I think that the question of when children can be left alone has a million 
different concerns, problems and parameters behind it. And, probably someone 
should set up a discussion about the wider issue.

Some of the issues are: privacy vs. making rules for other families; supporting 
families who do not have childcare; liability issues;  the need for children to 
have freedom to explore; safety.

Age makes a huge difference. Though, some children have different maturity 
levels at different ages. There was a huge web discussion about this based on a
 woman who got in trouble for letting her 9-year-old son ride the subway. (Her 
name is Lenore Skenazy and she has a blog, I am not sure I would agree with all 
points on:

I think that a community where this issue comes up might want to study it, and 
provide some time of guidance of suggested practices to give to parents or 
post. And, then decide how strict they want to be (including, liability issues 
for the community based on what they publish, and what they allow):

Some types of rules could be...

-Children under 6 must be accompanied by a parent. (Under 5? Under 8 years old 
- the traditional "age of reason"?)
-Children 6 yrs old to 12 must have an older child with them (or a parent 
within screaming distance?)
-14 year olds are eligible to accompany younger children (always? if they pass 
a quick babysitting class?)

Also, Free Schoolers and Democratic Schoolers may have a lot to offer about 
what ages children can do things when empowered and in a vibrant community. 
Some starting points to find thoughts on that: OR

I also think that a community who has this concern may want to really study the 
issue of childcare. Seems like that could be an underlying need that people are 
afraid to really ask for help with.

Maybe this is an opportunity to give teenagers the paid job or chore of taking 
turns being the "attendant" at the Community building at peek times like after 
school or weekend afternoons?

Kimberly Wilder
Long Island, New York

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