~ Self Reflection ~
“It takes a village to raise a child” is a proverb that was derived from the Eastern Nigerian Igbo tribe. In Nigerian culture it is strongly believed that each and every person in the community has a role in the growth and development of the child. The expression has been utilized in many cultures as a phrase to emphasize the importance each and every person, who touches the lives of children, has on who that child will be as they reach adulthood.
I have taken on that phrase as a huge part of my belief and conviction, while interacting with children. Foremost in that conviction is my strong effort in being a positive role model – who is respectful and honest in my approach. Moral integrity is also a strong factor in the manner which I interact with the youth in my community, as I know what I do has some influence.
One of the strongest role models I have had in my life was my father, who was a very intelligent, respectful, accommodating and supportive mentor to all who touched his life. He was always the Dad who came out to play ball, help build the forts and include the neighbour’s children in our family plans, because their Dad was sick and dying of cancer. He knew they needed some support and guidance – most of all positive attention. Many felt comfortable to come to him with their questions, problems and concerns, to which he gladly gave input. What he showed me was that everyone matters, everyone is to be respected and even the smallest voices have relevance. When someone’s child needed a job in order to get experience and a step up in the work force – he was there to offer a job. He never said, “You can’t do that.” He would show you how to go forward as you attempted that which you wished to achieve. Offering input by means of mentorship – teaching – guiding was what has made my father a man of great importance, not only in my life but in the life of others who have been influenced by who he was.
As I have gone through my life I have seen that the honesty and openness of the child is always refreshing and leads way to myself giving input. This may be of benefit to not only them, but to me as someone who loves to share knowledge and guidance. In other words children are often easier to get a long with than adults and the positive feedback a child offers makes any effort to give, much more rewarding.
The many years I have volunteered and worked in the community, with families and their children have given me much satisfaction. One of the first families that offered me their gratification, by simple means of a thank you note and a small broach, encouraged me to stay steadfast on my path to remain an instructor to children in some capacity. What I had done for their daughter was important and well received.
In closing – one of the greatest influences for me to remain in the child care field and to continue my education by obtaining my ECE – are the children who are now adults, who approach me in public and say. “Hi Miss Leeanne remember me”? Then they go on to remind me of something they participated in with me, which still impacts their life today. How neat is that!
Last but not least – my own children are good examples of my efforts to cultivate positive community members. I am proud of who they are and how I have succeeded in giving them the tools to participate in society.