Surely you have heard of or maybe even read Hillary Clinton's book "It Takes a Village?" If you haven't, you should read it. I read it several years ago. Long before I knew of the heartstrings that would be pulled when I weaned a child from nursing. Or courageously left my child for the first time at day care. Or when I stayed up all night with a crying baby. Or when I saw my child take their first steps. Or soothed their first bumped head. Or when I had a child graduate from PreK. Or even bigger, when I had a child start kindergarten. It takes a village was an idea to me. A philosophy behind what it takes to raise children. It didn't apply to where I was in life, but rather I read it because Hillary Clinton wrote it. And I happen to like her.
Now that I have experienced all of the above at least once and now some of them 2 and 3 times, I know, it does in fact take a village to raise a child.
I have been trying to volunteer in Ethan's classroom when I can. Which isn't nearly as often as I would like, but considering I am working, I think I am doing ok. I show up when he asks me and I volunteer when no one else can. One of the opportunities I have had is for center time. The children are divided up into 6 or so centers and rotate practicing the various things that they have been learning. It is their choice which centers they want to attend but when all the chairs are full at a table, that center is closed until someone walks away.
An example of one of my centers has been Sight Word Bingo. Each child gets a bingo card and some chips and I call out a sight word and they find it on their card. Some words are harder than others, but that is the point, to practice those things they already know and to learn those things they do not know. Some children whiz through, others struggle here and there and then a couple just don't seem to know any of the words. One little boy in particular, I will call him John for privacy reasons, would say over and over "I can't do this." "This is too hard for me." "I don't know these words." I would stop and talk to John and help him sound out the words, but it was clear that he had reached the point that he didn't even want to sound them out. He really believed he couldn't do it. And my heart broke for him. I only had 5 children with me at this time and 4 of the 5 were excelling and John wasn't. I had a hard time slowing the other children down and coaching John along with sounding out words. Can you imagine how the teacher attempts to do this with 22 children? No child left behind, ey?
The other children would say hurtful things like "This is so easy." "John, why don't know you how to do easy things?" I don't think they were trying to be mean and I don't think they are old enough to understand the impact their words have on John's self esteem. Nonetheless, it was wrong and I corrected them and told them their words were not kind and we should all work together as a team to make sure WE ALL know the words. My point being, we are only as strong as our weakest child. It takes a village.
I know John, and have had a few other encounters with him. Chris has even come into contact with him on a field trip and came home that day saying John was somewhat unruly. But instead of us complaining about John, I want to embrace him. I want to help him with his sight words and his behavior because I KNOW that he can do it. He is five. He can do anything. He is literally just getting started in his schooling career and already he believes he is a failure. Breaks my heart.
It is vital that parents get involved with their children at a very early age. I wonder what changes would take place if John's mother or father or aunt or uncle or even grandparent showed up one day at school to volunteer. To show him, this matters to me. I know my child beams when I show up. Because it is important to me.
Hillary is right, like her or or not, it does take a village. It is going to take a village of people from all walks of life coming in contact with my children throughout their schooling as well as family and neighbors when they are not in school to help me raise them.
As for John, I hope he doesn't fall between the cracks. But I am afraid he has already slipped.