Calling All Homeschoolers
Whether you’re already homeschooling or considering it, you’ve likely encountered the argument that your children won’t get the socialization they need. And you may be concerned about your own isolation, since homeschooling is essentially a full-time job.
That’s where cohousing comes in. Cohousing communities are specifically designed to promote interaction, support, and celebration between neighbors. And children, equally valued as community members, are an integral part of events and daily life.
Cohousing kids play at the river beach by our land.
Neighbors as Educators
In most multi-generational cohousing there are areas designed specifically for kids. Parking is on the periphery of the community, away from play and common areas. That means our children can play and explore without any fear of traffic. They become friends with all their neighbors (through community meals, outings, movie nights, etc.) and have access to children of different ages. With friends right next door, your kids spend less time watching screens.
One homeschooling mom in cohousing explained: “They’ll have an up close and personal view of how other families live and interact, how they eat and spend their money, and this will give them lots of information about what kind of values they want to have and what kind of life they want to lead when they grow up.”
Then there’s the educational enrichment gained from their adult neighbors. “Kids get informal chess lessons, cooking lessons, art opportunities, nature lessons, motorcycle engine lessons,” wrote one father on a cohousing message board. “If an adult is outside doing something, the odds are high one or more kids will wander over to find out what is going on.”
Patti teaching Lena the ins and outs of sewing.
Quincy and Dragon learn to care for other living creatures in cohousing.
One reason we chose to homeschool was to give our children experiences beyond the basic academics of traditional school. In cohousing, my children will regularly interact with and learn from many other people with an impressive range of knowledge and skills beyond my own.
- Kate, member of Cohousing ABQ
Support for Homeschooling
Homeschooling is common in multi-generational cohousing, especially when they first launch, The more families with young children, the more likely some are interested in homeschooling.
When Sharingwood in Washington State first sold out in the early 2000s, they were the center for a home school cooperative that attracted 25 kids to their common house once a week. Community adults led educational activities on banking, carpentry, practical math, service projects, and more.
The Common House provides another indoor space for learning activities.
My [homeschooled] kids did not experience any desire to go to school. Not a flicker, not a wisp of desire. I offered, many times, and they always looked at me like I had grown horns or perhaps was a pod-person replacement mom.
- Mom who homeschooled in cohousing
Learning by Doing
There’s another important aspect of learning for children in cohousing: participatory decision making. In cohousing, teams of neighbors address everything from policies around pets and home rentals to management of common areas and planning of community events. This consensus process makes sure that concerns are heard, while also ensuring that a decision is made and implemented.
The impact on cohousing children can be seen when they adopt these adult behaviors among themselves. A mom at Eco Commons in North Carolina shared this example: “The older kids have decided they are in charge of designing the playground and have already gone through several rounds of planning. A little while back they came to us and asked for help facilitating their meetings. Then they told us they would be fundraising so they could have more control over what went into the playground. This from a group of kids whose median age is about five.”
Whether it’s having children plan and cook a common meal once a month, or soliciting their opinions on policy decisions that will impact them, this kind of recognition and involvement creates confidence and a sense of having value. Children learn how to be part of a team, to help others, and even to try their hand at leadership – invaluable skills learned from growing up in a cohousing environment.
Teaching assistant Milo helps with a Cohousing ABQ class on Climate Change 101
Our land is on a quiet road with lots of families and kids, right next to the Rio Grande River and Bosque trails. The neighborhood’s agricultural roots give it a rural feel, but the center of town, the zoo, and numerous educational museums are just a 3-minute drive away.
There’s lots to keep your family busy in Albuquerque, from live music and theater to nationally recognized restaurants. With 310 sunny days per year, you can often find us outside, enjoying local trails, mountains, historic sites and more.
Cohousing ABQ families donned glow sticks for the Twinkle Light Parade.
Explore your Options
We are looking for a few more neighbors. If homeschooling in a supportive community is a dream of yours, we’d love to hear from you. Take your first step by reaching out to us or joining an upcoming info session.
Ariel at the Botanical Gardens where he plans to . . . explore his options.