Most people have heard about kibbutz children from the founding
days of kibbutzim. The early idealists felt that the nuclear family
unit was obsolete, and the entire kibbutz should be one big family
unit. Children slept in children's houses with a caretaker to tend
to their night needs. While this made for a fascinating experiment
(which Bruno Bettelheim analysed in his "Children of the Dream"),
parents and children alike found it distressing.
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Today, children on every kibbutz live and sleep with their parents,
at least into their teen years, and the children's houses have become
day care and activity centers.
On Ketura, most of the children are given an apartment in their
senior year of high school, which they share with another senior
Still, Ketura takes a small-town view of shared parental and community
responsibility: "It takes a whole kibbutz to raise a child." For
preschool children, this means providing full day care. For school-age
children, it means not only after-school activities, but also a
commitment to being a part of the regional school. Outside of regular
hours, there are evening activities for school-age children, as
well as summer camps and outings.
The physical focus for all of these activities is in the children's
houses, and the official language of all activities (despite our
many native English-speakers) is Hebrew.
Children on Ketura enter the day care system sometime between 3
and 6 months of age. Age groups are primarily divided according
to the eventual school year of the children. Groups are usually
between 6 and 10 in number, so every child gets a great deal of
individual attention. The day care system includes a physical therapist
and educational and psychological advisors who periodically observe
School-aged children take the bus to the regional school, which
is located on Kibbutz Yotvata 5 ½ miles (10 km) down the road. Because
of all the children of native English-speakers in the area, the
school has a separate class for them when they begin English studies
in the third grade. The school recently won an award from the Ministry
of Education and has been recognized several times for excellence.