Kwanzaa: A Framework for Developing Children

October 26, 2012

Continuing Series

The importance of children in the framework of Kwanzaa is underscored by one of its seven symbols- Corn/Muhindi. Every family, irrespective of whether they have children, place an ear of corn on the Kwanzaa set as a way of reinforcing the concept and practice that children belong to all adults. Thus, the responsibility and developmental task of all of adults is to care for, nurture, and protect children.

What then are the critical developmental tasks with respect to children for adults, and more importantly, what conditions do children need to develop and thrive. From the perspective of Kwanzaa, family, neighborhood, school is decisive and determinant in developing competent and caring and children. These three domains of life are nested. Each one of these domains influences and is influenced by the other. Whatever factors affect the larger context, the neighborhood, will filter down to affect innermost unit, the family. Consequently, children are care for and nurtured in a seamless fashion, because all adults are responsible for their development.

Moreover, the Kwanzaa principle Umoja- unity, instructs that each member of the family is constituted by a web of interpersonal relationships which include school and neighborhood. And, the Kwanzaa principle Ujima- collective work and responsibility, teaches that families must recognize that their well-being is derived from the neighborhood’s’ well being, and that they must be concern with the overall health of all family; that the lives of each family member and that of the neighborhood are bound together.

The domains of family, neighborhood, school are vital to developing children who thrive, and who perform at their highest ethical and academic potential. The discussion during Kwanzaa should be toward the building of a seamless network of caring and nurturing involving the family, school, and neighborhood. While this may seem a daunting task, it is necessary, and yes, obligatory, for all adults.

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