'Mothers of da' free for the children of empty towns of Galicia


zaroIt is a coarse parish of barely half a thousand inhabitants reached by a winding road that crosses leafy forests of eucalyptus and ends in a waterfall that falls directly into the sea. In the only street of the town it is locatedArenita de Colores, the house-nest that the educatorRoco Alonso(28 years old) has placed on the ground floor of his own home, a typically Galician stone building where his boyfriend's grandmother grew up. On the floor, five children between two and three years old play free. It soundsMozart. The walls do not have psters or colored drawings, as is the case with metropolitan day-care centers, so as not to disturb the tranquility of the environment. The plastic is practically banished. The toys are organic, directly from nature.

The little oneAdelaHe entertains himself by putting pumpkin seeds in a pot. Your partnerNaiamanipulates lea logs, whileAlexsweeps at his side.Anxois forming a row with animal figures when it arrivesXoelto remove the horse. They stare at each other for a few seconds, retreating. Roco approaches them gently and with a lot of left hand suggests Anxo to share the horse with Xoel. Anxo thinks about it, agrees and the tension dissipates. They play together.

The scene summarizes how things work in this alternative parenting home. Roco, who follows the methodMontessoriIt does not impose nor rewards, but invites, proposes, is assertive. They have a symbolic play area and constructions, another one for exploration and another for concentration next to the reading corner. Being only five children, there are no established schedules as in traditional nursery schools. They are not guided by the clock, but by the sound of the bells. They make a kind ofslow liferural without obligations or hurry.

Institutionalizes this alternative private model in a single project in Spain

Good part of the morning they spend it on the beach, or go whereLupeto see the chickens, or feed the sheep, or helpJoaquinato pack the honey. In the back garden of the house, cros that still can not read or write plant strawberries and water tomatoes. Fridays make bread. When they finish eating, they always pick up their plate and go to brush their teeth without anyone telling them anything. They respond to you when someone thanks them. They do not cry not once.

Here a slow pace of life is made, very in contact with nature, and the children are infected with that tranquility; they are more autonomous and responsible, says Roco. There is a nursery school in the next town, but families prefer to come here because the environment is more familiar and closer and the groups are small.

The parents do not pay and they have a flexible schedule of delivery and collection of the children

The five children with their educator, during an activity.

Roco has one of the 61 nest-houses that have been set up experimentally in Galicia. It is a pilot project that is inspired by the idea ofmothers of da, who are education professionals who offer in their own home a care service for children under three years of age in very small groups, providing a family atmosphere and personalized attention.

What does theXuntais to institutionalize this model of alternative upbringing that is inspired by the ideas of Montessori,Waldorf,PicklerYPestalozzi, pedagogues who advocate respect for decisions and freedom of movement of the child. Something that until now has been done in a self-managed and exclusively private way is financed in Galicia with public funds with the double objective of promoting labor and professional conciliation and to retain and attract a new population to the rural world.

The only requirement is that the house-nest is installed in municipalities of less than 5,000 inhabitants where there is no public or private school. TheCouncilor for Social Policypay up to 15,000 euros the cost of adapting the house to convert it into a foster home and grant financial aid to the promoter of the business -which is autonomous- of 19,600 euros per year (it comes to a monthly salary of 1,600 euros) to finance the expenses of the activity. In return, families have a resource for free and should only put food and diapers.

The Galician model is unique in Spain. There is no other autonomous community where themothers of dafor his work, as he explainsSilvia Lpez, president of theDa Mothers Network, which adds that this type of aging is only regulated and subject to controls in Navarre, the Community of Madrid and Galicia. In the rest of Spain these educators are facing a legal vacuum that contrasts with what happens in countries like France, Germany or the United Kingdom, where the system is legislated and is very common for several years.

The idea is to promote reconciliation and attract people to the rural world

Ins Gmez, president of theDa Mothers Association, endorses the Galician initiative and explains that having small groups (the maximum is five children) allows to better meet the needs of the children, who, when raised in a house, maintain a secure attachment relationship with their educators. At these ages they need a home environment, not an institution. When there are many children together they get sicker and more nervous. Here they do not have the stress of activities of the nurseries. Everything is much more relaxed and responds to what the children need: they are well cared for, they go out for a walk, they know the life of the neighborhood ….

In Roco's house-nest parents have flexible time to drop off and pick up children. There is also less demand on the part of the Xunta in the bureaucratic requirements that are needed to set up the business: the house must be well lit, ventilated and conditioned, have a space of 20 square meters and little more. There are also facilities for the required qualification: people with a career or FP related to childcare are sought, but, if they do not have this training, they are given a course of 400 hours.

The personalized towels of the little ones.

While the children are taking a nap, Roco says that he studied theChild Educationand he worked four years in a school inVigo. She moved to Zaro because her boyfriend got work. I did not consider living in a town, but now I think about staying here for the long term. We do not rule out having children, especially being able to raise them at home. The work allows it and offers me a job opportunity that, otherwise, will not be in Zaro, explains Roco.

Foster homes are only regulated in Galicia, Madrid and Navarra

Something similar has happened to the parents of Adela, young settlers in an aging town that year after year is losing inhabitants.Domingo Rodrguez(39 years old) andAna Trigo(35 years old) they say they came to Zaro from La Corua because they wanted to change their lives. We worked 12 hours a day and lived stressed, we did not have time for Adelita. My father offered us the possibility of staying with the family business, a supermarket that is in the house, and we did not think about it. We felt great and the girl, very happy. We are thinking of having another child. In La Corua, with the life we ​​had, we would not even have considered it, they express.

At 15.30 the parents, the mothers and the grandmothers begin to arrive at the house of Roco. They do not leave immediately, as in the city, but they stay together. Everyone agrees that the house-nest has united the different generations of the town. These children have rejuvenated Zaro, says Uja, the grandmother of Roco's boyfriend. This 87-year-old woman was born and raised in the place where Adela, Naia, Alex, Anxo and Xoel are now educated. Now she is everyone's grandmother. There is no day when he does not spend time playing with them.


The house-nest of Roco Alonso is based on the Montessori method, which promotes the autonomy of children. The cros are part of the morning outdoors, with the neighbors and their animals. Then they play in different corners. After eating, they pick up their plate and clean themselves. The teacher gives them relaxing music to prepare for a nap. At 15.30 the parents start arriving to pick up the children. Families spend time together.

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(tagsToTranslate) Spain (t) social affairs – family (t) Rocío Alonso (t) Spain (t) Galicia (t) La Coruña (t) France (t) United Kingdom (t) Navarre (t) Germany (t) boy


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