Looking at it more closely, parents might be causing more harm than good. Richard Louv, one of my favorite authors who strongly encourage reconnecting children and nature, opened my eyes to this idea.
Quoting his book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, “An indoor (or backseat) childhood does reduce some dangers to children; but other risks are heightened, including risks to physical and psychological health, risk to children's concept and perception of community, risk to self-confidence and the ability to discern true danger.” The great outdoors restoring children's right to play outside, among others, is definitely not a myth.
So instead of shutting these children from the world, which sooner or later will have to be faced eventually, why not educate them instead about their rights and how to integrate it to their everyday life? I’ve read an article written by Dr. Michele Borba, on Ways to Help Kids Find “Their Voice” and Speak Up! It emphasizes the fact that parents can’t always be there to protect their children so they should be taught well on what their rights are and be assertive about it.
School is definitely the second home of every child because believe it or not, even school playground teaches about, if not reinforces, human rights.
Right to Play
Play is definitely one of children's rights. Article 31 of the UN Convention states that, “Every child has the right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.”
Schools honour children's right to play as both a process and context for learning. The mere fact that a playground is present in every school and that play time or physical education is integrated in the curriculum strengthens every parent’s promise to children that they are encouraged to master physical and personal skills while having fun.
Playground Equipment’s Nature and Art products are always worth mentioning because they’ve successfully integrated natural events to their playground setting which parents, especially those with over-protective tendencies, immediately love.
Right to Equality
Concepts of sharing, taking turns, respect, empathy, cooperation and teamwork are being recognized here for everyone, not just a few, to enjoy. The exact opposite though is the reaction of a misguided child. He sees himself as superior from others thus the need for personal and immediate gratification.
Just by being in the playground and experiencing the consequences of each action, children learn about people and the world around them.
Freedom from Fear
Aside from provision and participation, children’s rights consider the vulnerable character of the child. Unfortunately, it is estimated that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students. (Source: National Education Association) This attack is called Bullying.
Bullying take many forms, it can be:
- Physical – any form of physical attack. Damage to or taking someone else’s belongings may also constitute as physical bullying;
- Verbal – these are generally offensive remarks/teasing and/or name calling;
- Indirect – being a subject of highly unpleasant stories or malicious rumours; and/or
- Cyber Bullying - any type of bullying that is carried out by electronic medium.
Playground is one of the places where this problem can thrive because it is where ‘victims’ are low on their defenses while ‘bullies’ freely observe. Good thing there is a word called prevention. Since the risk of bullying is high at school playgrounds, parents should constantly remind their children of how they should be treated by others and how to stand up for their rights. On the other hand, school authorities should ensure that there are enough adult supervision around.
While emphasizing children's right to play, let us not forget as well that bullies can be victims too! This makes the playground become “pro-social” instead of “anti-bullies.”
Freedom to choose
I have been an avid follower of Kaboom for years. Their objective of bringing balanced and active play into the kids’ daily lives supports my commitment of making sure that every child has a choice of what and where to play.
So how do we talk to kids about their freedom of choice? By beginning early. Let these children make decisions on what to wear, what to eat or what to play, by giving them options to choose from.
No two kids are alike, thus, you cannot force all children to like one set of play equipment. This is where creativity comes in. School playground should become an environment designed to bring out the best in kids and empower them to become the lead actors of their creative minds.
Equally important, teaching children about human rights and its importance help build a generation that is socially responsible.
Using the words from an article in Unicef Australia site, “Meeting all children’s rights in our lifetime is a real possibility. It is critical then to educate children as the future leaders of our society. Students learn to take responsibility for their actions, respect and value diversity and see themselves as global citizens who can contribute to a more peaceful, just and sustainable world.”
Learn about the author: Jennifer Holmes