We usually have about 15-25 children, from infants to teens, living at Earthaven. Other like-minded families live very close to Earthaven and visit often.
Most of the school-age Earthaven children are homeschooling, as well as participating in homeschool enrichment programs and regularly scheduled playgroups.
In some ways, it’s an ideal place to raise children; however, there definitely are challenges. Given that we’re still in the process of developing our physical infrastructure, many families are in less comfortable living conditions than they may be accustomed to elsewhere. And there are a lot of demands on parents’ time and energy at Earthaven, since they share in the work of co-creating this village.
Yet, we live in a beautiful mountain forest with a wholesome, safe environment. Our children are surrounded by streams, waterfalls, frogs, and woodland creatures; lots of friends; and dozens of adults to befriend and mentor them. Kids love it here! While most community meetings are adult-oriented, the children are an integral part of our community meals, plays and entertainments, celebrations, workdays, and other community events. For those families who are called to take up this work and share this way of life, parents and children both thrive!
If you’re seeking a community with a high-spirited, environmentally and socially rich environment for children, come see what we’re doing here.
Myth #1. The entire community will co-parent my children. Earthaven is an independent-income community (not income-sharing), so the work of raising children is not credited as community service, as it is in income-sharing communities. There is one exception: childcare is provided during Council meetings so parents can attend Council. Children are their parents’ responsibility and, given the costs of living at Earthaven, having financial stability already established before joining the community is definitely helpful. However, parents and children do receive various kinds of informal support here.
Myth #2. The children will be sheltered from mainstream society. Children at Earthaven learn a way of life close to the seasons and the elements, as well as respectful and honest communication between people and concern for nature’s creatures. They also, though, are exposed to the “outside world” in a variety of ways. For example, the children ask for toys or processed foods they learn about from advertising.
The President of the Global Ecovillage Network, Daniel Greenburg, wrote his thesis for a Ph.D. in child psychology on the emotional wellbeing of children in intentional communities. He surveyed about 235 intentional communities in the U.S. and personally visited about 30 of them to interview community members in person. He found that as long as a community was stable, as Earthaven is, and didn’t have high member turnover, the children seemed to thrive in measurably higher ways than non-community children of the same ages. Children raised or living in intentional communities seemed more confident and competent than similar non-community children; they learned skills most people usually learn only as adults. They were also more verbally and socially skilled (and even verbally precocious) at earlier ages.
This is, in part, attributed to the fact that children have adult friends in the community who aren’t their parents, relatives, teachers or school principals or any other adult authorities, just friends or neighbors who spend time with them and show them how to do things (like garden, cook, repair things, care for animals, etc.). As is true in many intentional communities, unlike in the “outside world,” different ages also play together and seem to like and enjoy each other.
At Earthaven, we see children roaming the property with friends of various ages, in a kind of “kids herd” paradise where every adult knows them, cares about them, and can look out for them. Imagine a world in which we all were so blessed.