Why Does It Take a Community to Raise a Child?
“It takes a village to raise a child.”
There’s truth in this African proverb as we’ve realised the value of a supportive home and nurturing environment in early childhood development. After all, the environment encompasses not just the physical surroundings, but also the people, objects and emotional experiences (e.g. Does the home or early learning centre feel safe and supportive?).
Community, not just the classroom
For decades the focus had been on classroom learning and academics. However, much of the learning and action might be happening outside the classroom. Outside or even at home, children also absorb and process information. In addition, they gain richer experiences because they get to use all their senses and perform more complex movements (such as jumping and running around).
Thankfully, the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) is leaning more towards holistic learning. The emphasis is on Belonging, Being and Becoming, which involves play-based learning. It also emphasised what learning is all about when the focus shifted from traditional classroom settings and towards more play and interaction.
In one of EYLF’s learning outcomes for children (birth to 5 years), it’s about children being connected with and contributing to their world. It’s important for them to feel they have a sense of belonging to groups and communities. This way, they will start to care about the world they live in and participate in helpful activities. In a way, aside from the community raising a child, the child also somehow influences the community.
Early on, they might already feel a sense of responsibility and contribution. Although this is difficult or impossible to measure (as opposed to test scores), this can affect how they look at the world they live in and how they perceive other people. It can also help them further develop their empathy towards other children and even adults. With this deeper understanding, children can act in a friendly way or let them see other people’s point of view (which can somehow help in collaboration and accomplishing a certain task).
Significant accomplishments mostly require working with other people towards a common goal. Indeed, it takes an entire village or community to accomplish something including raising a child or coming up and executing an innovative idea. Isolation is not a long-term option. The better option is to let our children learn and explore in rich, safe and supportive environments whether it’s in our homes, playgrounds or early learning centres.