A Child Belongs to all of Us

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By Kevin May

"According to Wikipedia, there is a Tanzanian saying, “Omwana taba womoi,” which translates as “A child belongs not to one parent or home.” We feel like we continually relearn this lesson, each passing day, with my hard-working and talented 11-year-old son, as we work with him to nurture his self-motivation. We are also learning that we cannot afford to disengage, even for a moment, my self-motivated and talented 6-year-old daughter in her learning, and expect her to grow to her full potential. It takes work!

That work starts with me and my wife.

As parents, we must activate and inspire in our children, their teachers, and our community, into believing that our children are worthy, capable, and committed to learning. For this reason, building a relationship with my children’s teachers is essential. I do this by giving. I participate in PTA activities and attend parent/teacher conferences. I stop into my children’s school on any given day to check in, not just on my children, but on the environment of the school. I may ask, is there something new that we should know about, or can I offer some assistance? And of course, how are my children doing? I do this in the presence of my children so we can all hear from our teachers, and show them that we care!  I want them to witness the relationship their parents and school leaders have so that they understand that they do, in fact, have a village.

I believe children are like sponges. Each passing school day, my children soak up information from their teachers. Not just what’s being lectured in front of the class, but also what’s being communicated non-verbally during downtimes like recess. To my children, their teachers are role-models and caretakers. To their teachers, my children should be treated like their own for every second they have them in their care, whether in the classroom, on the field, or in the cafeteria. It is vital for teachers to learn who your child is as an individual, and who you are as a family. In order for your children to be successful, I encourage you to start engaging your child’s teacher now! After reading this, immediately email your child’s teacher, and ask to meet to talk about your child is in and outside of the classroom. You might be surprised at what you learn about your child.