The Convention on the
Rights of the Child, and those who work
for its passage are creating a social
revolution. It is a peaceful revolution.
Raising Children With Roots, Rights &
Responsibilities is designed for two-hour
sessions. Each session follows the same
time format: The first hour includes parent-child
interaction time and a community circle
where families gather for songs and information
sharing. The second hour is a planned
parent education time where adults focus
on the topic in one room, while the early
childhood educator helps the children
practice skills for living in a democracy
in another room.
The curriculum can be adapted to any
setting where families gather to learn.
Such groups as Early Childhood Family
Education (ECFE), parenting classes, child
care centers, family child care homes,
faith communities, YMCA/YWCA programs,
Scouts/campfire groups, neighborhood and
play groups, community schools, after
school programs, and home schoolers can
use this curriculum.
This curriculum is best suited for children
ages three to six, their parents and educators.
Children younger than three can attend
and will enjoy the activities. A "T"
designates the activities that are age-appropriate
for toddlers (as well as preschoolers).
Where parent participation is low, this
curriculum can be used by sending letters
home with the children as they complete
You may find some sessions have more
information than you can cover in one
session. Choose the portions that seem
most relevant to your group, or, if you
have time, plan to spend two sessions
or more on each topic. As you choose what
to include, take note that we think the
most important part of the parent education
component is the discussion about human
Specific activities which
are done each session (interaction time,
circle times, individual learning time)
are enjoyed by children when they are
consistently repeated, week after week.
This predictability helps young children
mentally and emotionally prepare for the
Each session contains the
Greeting . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . .5 minutes
Parent/Child Interaction Activities .
. 30 to 60 minutes
Community Circle . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . 15 to 25 minutes
Separate Learning Time . . . . . . . .
40 to 60 minutes
Children's Guided Play
(50 - 60 minutes) and Learning Circle
Adult Education (40
- 60 minute
Component I - The Greeting - 5 Minutes
One staff member has the specific assignment
of greeting the families, showing them
where to put coats and bags, and handling
logistics, like location of the rest rooms
and making sure each person puts on a
name tag. A friendly, warm reception will
role model respect and care, and set the
tone for the session. Some people may
feel uncomfortable coming to class. It
may be their first parenting class, or
it may be the children's first out-of-the-home
educational experience. They may be unsure
about the content or worried about their
child's behavior. The greeting time helps
everyone relax and mentally prepare to
enjoy their time together.
Component II - Interactive Activities
- 30 to 60 minutes
Each session provides parent and child
activities designed to build positive
relationships between adults and children
and among families. The activities are
an age-appropriate way for children to
experience hands-on learning about human
rights concepts. In these cooperative
activities, children and parents recognize
and appreciate simple family pleasures
(time together, working, playing, having
fun, creating, exploring). They also learn
about and practice sharing, cooperative
play, imagining, making friends, and treating
others with respect. They move toward
empowerment as they self-select activities.
These activities are intentionally designed
to be done by a parent and child together.
Staff may wish to enter this interaction
where there is more than one child in
A "free choice" approach for
these activities provides families a chance
to spend a little or a lot of time on
each activity and to choose to do only
one activity or all of them. Each activity
has an information sheet (table tent or
cue card) to be read by parents when doing
the activity. This card helps parents
understand why they are doing the activity
and provides questions for them to ask
their child(ren). You may wish to copy
these out of the book and then laminate
them or place them on construction paper
for easy visibility and safe storage between
sessions of this class. Carefully protected,
these cue cards can last for years.
"To learn is to
change; and to change can be both exhilarating
Tom Peters and Nancy Austin, A Passion
Component III - Community Circle -10
to 20 minutes
Expanding on the cooperative interaction
activities of the first component, Community
Circle time combines active, age-appropriate
songs, games, and concepts with group
participation. Preschool readiness skills
are encouraged. Children observe, listen,
participate, and practice. The 10 to 20
minute group time focuses on one particular
concept or human right and the corresponding
responsibility, reinforcing cooperation
and respect within each group circle.
This component encourages physical closeness
(when children sit on their parents' laps
or hold their parents' hands) and for
social interaction through songs, finger
plays, and circle games.
Component IV - Separate Learning Time
- 40 to 60 minutes
The fourth component provides separate
learning time for adults and children.
Children's Guided Play and Children's
Children remain in the early childhood
room with the children's teacher and any
assistants. A guided play preschool routine
is provided for them which includes: free
choice time, snack, and large muscle time.
You will need a setting with a children's
play area and access to professionals
to help guide the children's play.
The Children's Learning Circle
lasts from 10 to 20 minutes (depending
on the children's attention span). You
may choose to gather the children on the
circle near the end of your time together,
just before the parents return to get
them. This timing is useful for-
- pulling children together to prepare
for meeting their parent;
- reviewing songs learned in the previous
- providing an opportunity to review
and summarize the day's topic;
- giving children a chance to learn
interaction skills they will need in
- providing an opportunity for children
to honor each other's rights and feel
their own are honored.
The Children's Learning Circle format
is as follows:
- Invite children to circle (use the
same song each week);
- Review some or all of the songs done
earlier in the circle with parents and
- Familiarize children with their rights
and responsibilities for the session
and initiate a discussion about them,
and/or read a book to the children;
- End with the same song each week,
such as, "If You're Happy and You
Know It," or "This Little
Light of Mine."
Parents spend their time discussing and
thinking about the United Nations Convention
on the Rights of the Child, and its implications
for parenting and participating in community
life. The facilitator relates the importance
and meaning of parent-child interaction
activities and what the children are learning
from the day's topic. Handouts that are
used only in one session are provided
at the end of that session. Handouts that
are referred to over and over are provided
in the Appendices.
Parents explore such topics as: "How
does this information impact your parenting?
What might you do differently now that
you have this information? What are some
of your current parenting strategies that
are being confirmed?" The facilitator
avoids setting up some parents as "models"
for the others. This may create a tone
of competition which will reduce the effectiveness
of the dialogue. Rather, all parents serve
as models for each other. Even what you
consider "bad" parenting can
be instructive, especially when you explore
the rationale for a particular parenting
strategy deeply, so beliefs can be questioned
and attitudes and behaviors can change.
An important part of the parent curriculum
is the Action Steps, which are included
in each parent session. They include family,
neighborhood/community, and larger social/political
actions people can take related to the
topic. Parents work on their Human Rights
Action Steps Journal. This is a handout
provided in the first session.
You may wish to break the sequence and
spend one out of three weeks exclusively
on Action Steps - discussing strategies
and reporting on actions. This provides
an opportunity to stop and take a look
at the bigger picture, as opposed to the
specific articles that are discussed during
individual sessions. Participants can
complete action steps outside of class
and report on their activities during
sessions. They are encouraged to keep
a record of their efforts and changes
in their Human Rights Action Steps Journal.
The entire session ends when parents
conclude their discussion and rejoin the
children in the early childhood classroom.
You may wish to briefly gather everyone
for a short closing song, but since the
adults and the children have both had
closure in their separate learning times,
this is not necessary. Saying good-bye
and helping facilitate the transition
- Provide each family with a folder
for the handouts or use a folder with
pockets to hold the Human Rights Action
Steps Journal and the handouts.
- Keep a supply of each week's handouts
in a file in the classroom so individuals
who have missed a week can get them
when they attend.
- Have extra copies of the Summary of
the U.N. Convention on the Rights of
the Child on hand so people can use
them if they forget their copy from
week to week.
- Speaking to or touching children on
the shoulder reminds them that a circle
time will begin soon (this may be the
Community Circle with parents and children
together, or it may be the Children's
Learning Circle with children alone).
After connecting with each child, the
teacher begins a song. Singing the same
song each week helps children make the
transition to the circle.
- Note that we use food items in the
sensory table. If you have objections
to the use of food, please substitute
with colored rocks or blocks.
- Human Rights Action Step Journals
are needed for each adult. See Appendix