Great Oak Common House Children Supervision Policy

Common House 2009-03-16


Great Oak Common House Children Supervision Policy. Different expectations are outlined for different age groups, 0-9, 10-12, and 13-18.


Great Oak is a diverse community of 37 households. Represented in this mix are singles,families with small kids, teenagers, empty nesters and families without kids. We have a wide range of parenting styles and opinions about safety and respect. This diversity in styles has been both wonderful and challenging. Wonderful, because some of us are learning new ways to parent or delighting in seeing other people's children grow and thrive. Challenging, because we don't always agree with other peoples' expectations for our children, or we are worried about other children's behavior and safety.

When the Common House was built, we frequently talked about it as an extension of our own houses. We wanted it to be a place where everyone in the community, old and young alike, could come and play, relax, socialize, eat and feel safe and respected. For various reasons, we kept the policies to a minimum, and completely avoided setting any type of child supervision policy.

After 5 years of living together, it seems that the lack of policy is also problematic. The CH is truly an extension of everyone's house - it is a shared space. Each person has their own opinion about how old a child should be before being unsupervised. When adults come across an unsupervised child in the CH, the adult feels responsible for the child's safety and this can create tension, resentment and confusion. Children are also confused by the responses they get from different adults. Having a clear policy can help with this.

Two more important issues are safety and following of rules (including cleaning up). It seems unfair to everyone to expect a young child who has not yet developed impulse control to be able to follow the rules in the common house and be able to handle problems with other kids, or emergencies without help.

Therefore, we are establishing this policy to:

1. Increase the safety of the children at Great Oak.

2. Increase the care and cleanliness of our shared space - the CH

3. To have clarity among all of the adults, parents and non-parents, about children in the CH.

4. To decrease the tensions caused by different parenting styles in the shared space.

5. Begin to teach all of us that the CH is a privilege, and with that comes some responsibilities.


Great Oak, in an effort to maximize everyone's enjoyment of and safety in the Common House establishes this policy regarding child supervision,
1. Ages 0-9 years
MUST be supervised to be in the Common House (CH). Supervision means that their parent, teenage sitter, or another adult who has agreed to be responsible is present in the CH. The adult is also checking in with the child(ren) regularly,making sure the rules of the CH are being followed, including picking up.
If children in this range are found in the CH without supervision, any Great Oak Adult member (member over 18) may escort them back to their parents/sitters.
Children in this range may briefly come in to use the bathroom unsupervised if necessary.

2. Ages 10-12 years

Great Oak children may be in the CH unsupervised provided the following:
Their parents have given them permission
Their parent/sitter is on the GO campus and they know how to contact each other quickly.
They are following all of the CH rules
They are treating the CH, the items and people within it with respect.
They do 2 mini jobs from the CH job board twice a month. These jobs will be small, like setting or clearing tables, taking out recycling, picking up toys in the playroom)
If children in this range are not following the rules, any GO Adult member can respectfully tell them to fix the situation and/or send them home.
Children in this range may NOT supervise other children in the CH. For example, if a 10 yr old has friends from outside GO, an adult must be present.
Non-GO children in this range will need to be supervised by a GO adult or teenager/sitter, who is present in the CH.

3. Ages 13 - 18 years.

Great Oak teenagers may be in the CH unsupervised AND may supervise younger children in the CH provided:
They have their parents permission
Are following the rules
Know who to contact in an emergency
Have the maturity to contact an adult if they need help with younger children
they continue to do 2 mini jobs or become a teen member of the community.
Teenagers may NOT ask younger members to leave the CH unless they are directly baby-sitting that person. If they see any behavior they think is dangerous or makes them uncomfortable, they should first try to get that behavior to stop. If unsuccessful, they should call either their own parent, the childs parent, or some other adult member to come and help.

What to do if policy not being followed?
It is usually best to take responsibility and talk directly with the child and or parents involved (communication pathway). If that doesn't work, please bring it to the CH committee and we will talk with them. If still no response, we will engage CRC or a mediator.

Process Comments:

Consensed on by the common house committee, presented at a community meeting on 3/16/2009.