How long is it since you considered the United Nation’s perspective on the rights of a child? Have you ever? It’s quite an enlightening exercise so this podcast episode goes through these rights and then shows how one early childhood centre has adapted those rights into a Children’s Rights Charter.
It’s a beautiful example of a group of teachers working together over a period of time, and seriously putting the rights of the children in their centre onto paper. Since it’s an evolving document that’s plastered up on their walls, it means that it’s taken seriously. Every teacher, parent and child knows the guidelines so there’s consistency of care across the board.
The rights of a child
Today I’m spending just a little time talking about the rights of the child. What are the rights of our children? What does the UN say they are? And what does that mean in the classroom or at home?
The UN has a document of over 7000 words talking about the rights of the child and obviously most people are not going to dig their way through that. But I can see why it’s necessary because some people do misinterpret the rights as they are written. Fortunately, we don’t have to wade through that because they have been summarised into smaller points.
One of the most important points is that it is supposed to include every child. All children should have access to equal rights. We know that that’s a wish rather than reality. This Convention has been the most widely signed of all the human rights Conventions so we know that countries take this very seriously, but there’s a big difference between ratifying a Convention and actually protecting children.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
Please feel free to download the following 2 posters containing the Rights of the Child in child-friendly language.
What do they mean?
There are so many issues that can be raised with each of the points above, but for now it’s just a reminder of what the conventions are, what the rights of the children are, and as a reminder of something we so often take for granted.
I came across a Children’s Charter this week that was in the magazine, Every Child, that is published by Early Childhood Australia. It was so well written that it really resonated with me and it’s one reason why I wanted to do this episode. I’m going to read out to you what this early childhood centre decided would make a good Children’s Rights Charter.
The staff all got together and they’ve changed this over the years, but it’s from Cooloon Children’s Centre in NSW, Australia. I love the way they’ve put the UN Children’s Rights into terms that make sense in their early childhood centre.
Children’s Rights Charter
The following poster is also included in the download link above. You might like to use it yourself. Just enlarge it as you print and you’ll have a great poster for your centre. Please note: the points below are not mine, they are from the Cooloon Children’s Centre.
What are your children’s rights?
Have you ever created a document that outlines the rights of your children like this? I haven’t, and now I have to wonder why.
Often, we take it for granted that other adults have similar values to us, and will treat children in similar ways to us. When they don’t we can be quite shocked, so it’s important to sit down and really mull through what we believe is in the best interests of our children. You can do that within your family, or do it within your teaching team. But to nail down a document like this means everyone is on the same page, and incoming parents can be reassured that their child will be treated with respect and care. If a poster like this is front and centre in a classroom or front foyer it’s a constant reminder to staff of what is expected.
The Cooloon Children’s Centre consider their Children’s Charter to be a fluid document… something that can be added to as new situations arise.
What other statements might be relevant to where you teach, or where you live?
I was thinking that I might like to add the 4 following rights.
- The right to be understood even though I don’t know how to express myself clearly
- The right to not be bullied or laughed at.
- The right to enjoy learning at my own pace
- The right to learn about things that interest me and my friends
I’m going to leave this discussion here, it’s given me plenty to think about and I hope it’s given you something to think about, too.
You can visit UNICEF here to download their child-friendly posters in multiple languages.
Rating and Review
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Today’s episode wasn’t about research, but it was about an issue that is vitally important in early childhood but is often glossed over. Thank you for joining me and I wish you happy teaching and learning.
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