Making Scandinavia look cheap

“You have to have a masters in play to do child care in Sweden” Kristen informed me of this after she said both “Everything is better in Sweden” and “How could we know if we have never been there”.  Kristen also thinks we have earned our applied Masters in Play from our time at Unicorns.

Kristen is my regular other adult Unicorn.  Unicorns is the home school/child care that Twin Oaks offers for it’s youngest kids.  They range from about 2 to 8 years old.  Typically we have 5 to 7 kids.  It is pretty lovely.

Kristen, Linus and Finely

Kristen, Rosa (with doll), Linus and Finely

When you compare maternity and paternity leaves across industrialized countries the US does pretty poorly.  The 12 weeks maternity leave required at a federal level contrasts poorly to the 52 weeks in Denmark or the 420 days in Sweden.  The communes on the other hand make the Scandinavian countries look miserly.    If you wanted to (and your partner agreed) you could do your full quota in child care for over the first two years of your child’s life.

No one does this.  It would be frown upon despite being completely possible.  One reason it would be discouraged is that we don’t want members stopping all their other work for the community and just focusing on their kid.  Also because a critical component of the communities child care program is teaching people who are interested in being parents how to do so on other members kids.  If you take all the child care hours, then others can not contribute to the community this way, except without labor compensation.

Izzie and Finley

Izzie and Finley

The interesting thing about Unicorns is that it is funded out of slack from other under used kid budgets, especially labor budgets.  Every parent gets a diminishing number of labor hours for their kid each year.  These are an entitlement, if you have a kid you get them.  And most parents don’t use all their hours.  This means they can easily be contributed to this home schooling model.

Willow, Jonah and Gwen with me pushing the tire swing at the Playground of Death

Willow, Jonah and Gwen with me pushing the tire swing at the Playground of Death

But i can’t help but think we are getting it right with our kids in a big way.  They are learning a lot and their educational environment is supportive, fun and very low stress.  They are playing a lot, with other kids, with adults and by themselves.  I think this is the right combination.  Parents have unusually high access to their kids here, typically seeing them at almost every meal, being able to have play dates or other connections in the middle of the day relatively effortlessly. Over all the commune kids seem quite healthy and well adjusted.  They seem largely without phobias and remnants of abuse patterns.

It could be better of course, we could have a nicer building to work in, there could be more total kids in the communities child program to provide more peers.  But when you compare it to almost everyone else out there, including Sweden, the communes child care program is pretty impressive.

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About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

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