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It Takes a Village

By Tina Leonard | Brevard, NC

Many times I have heard the proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child.” I have often reflected on that concept and agreed. There are many times when parents and friends help in ways such as driving a child to school or an activity, child care when family members have meetings or unexpected work needs, sharing of clothing items, or materials for backpacking. These are just a few of the many ways I have observed families raising children, leaning on their village. I recognized at some point though that most of my initial thoughts around this concept were focused more on the physical care of the children.

Slowly, I have learned that while these “villagers” are helping with these children they are doing more than simply helping, they are teachers as well. In these moments, the children are subtly learning so much about life and the world. The children begin to learn that families are not all alike. Families look different but are all special and full of love. The children begin to learn that there are different ways to interact with other adults and children. Perhaps they begin to learn that when I cry that I have an empty water bottle, Mom gets me water. However, they may begin to learn that when I cry I have an empty water bottle to the adult looking after me in the afternoon, I might be asked to take a few deep breaths and then use my words to help with a solution. They may begin to learn that when I spend time over at this person’s house, I will be able to play a guitar and learn about music. It may be they begin learning about dogs or cats. Truly, all of our experiences in life are learning moments.

Our recent field trip to Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education for the Nature Nuts Program on Owls helped shape this concept more solidly for me in another way as a teacher. When the Owl Class ventures out of the classroom, off campus into the community, I try to plant the idea that the world is the classroom and that there are many more teachers to share ideas and information with us. My hope is that the children will soak in the concept that learning doesn’t happen only at school, only in the classroom, only from the teachers there. My hope is that the children begin to feel open and excited to learn from everyone they encounter. What I feel I have come to learn is that I am grateful to all the many “teachers” that are in the lives of all of the children because there isn’t one person among us that can possibly teach the children all that they need to know about the world. I am grateful that where I lack in knowledge or experience there is someone else that can help teach the children.


The proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” resonates with me but now I recognize in a fuller way. It isn’t just about the children or the adults, it is about our relationships and interactions, learning from each other about some many things in life.


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