Raising Children With Roots, Rights, & Responsibilities

Parent Education Handout #2a

Goals for This Program

All sessions are designed to provide experience with the following:

1) Building Trust/Roots: When parents, communities, and the State create a safe environment, it helps children trust that they are free to think and act independently. Knowing that they are loved and they belong, children can learn and try out the behaviors of their role models as well as experiment with other behaviors. Developing rules together, as a family or a class, for example, helps children develop trust that their opinions matter. When they see that everyone follows the rules, they develop trust that all will be safe. It is possible for children to develop deep, healthy roots when they spend time in safe places.

2) Respecting Rights: Helping children learn about and understand their rights and the rights of others through turn taking, sharing, and promoting empathy, helps children learn to see other points of view. When we help children speak up for what they need and express their right to an opinion, we are promoting democracy. When children learn about what other children might be feeling or thinking, they begin to think of the world as larger than themselves. Children who experience this, acquire the ability to be sensitive to others' cues and needs. This leads them to the eventual ability to take another person's perspective. Viewing others more empathically helps children recognize that each of us has the right to be safe, learn, play, and make friends. This helps them make respectful behavioral choices.

3) Developing Responsibility: Responsibility is an empowering word. Taking responsibility empowers people to have a say in their own lives. Helping children recognize that they have the ability to choose what they want to do and are capable of doing it, fosters a sense of mastery and competence, helping them feel worthy of participating in community life. When children feel they belong in a community, they are more willing to make responsible choices.

Helping children learn to make decisions that consider the consequences of their actions helps them make better choices choices with fewer negative results. Learning problem-solving strategies, negotiation skills, peaceful play, and cooperation are important because they help children learn to think and plan in order to make choices that are good for themselves and others. Children learn when they pick up after themselves, take turns, work out problems, share, or help someone that they are showing responsibility and thus benefitting themselves and the whole community. They learn when they pour their own juice, decide about what toy they want to use, what activity they want to do, what they want to wear, or what they want to eat that they are showing responsibility. In a cooperative-interaction setting, the emphasis is on everyone taking responsibility for his or her part of working together, so the group can accomplish mutual goals for the common good.

This curriculum is not finished when the last session meets. This class is merely an impetus for a new beginning in living with a human rights focus. This curriculum is intended only to supply the priming for the pump of human rights activism. This activism begins during the 12 weeks of Roots, Rights, & Responsibilities but continues for weeks, years, and even lifetimes.