Free Education - Session 8

Roots: Parents, communities, and governments that work for and support human rights for children provide free and compulsory education for every child, aimed at developing the child's personality, talents, and mental and physical abilities to the fullest extent, school discipline that is consistent with the child's rights and dignity, and continuing access to information and lifelong learning (CRC Articles 17, 28, 29).

Rights: Children have the right to

  • free and compulsory education;
  • discipline consistent with their rights and dignity;
  • education that prepares them for an active adult life, fosters respect for their parents, cultural identity, language, and values, and for the cultural background and values of others.

    Responsibilities: Children are responsible for

  • applying their attention to learning;
  • being prepared to benefit self and society;
  • cooperating with teachers, parents, and others.

    Session Outcomes


    • gain understanding of their responsibilities in obtaining an education.


    • understand the right of every child to be educated;
    • understand their responsibility in supporting their child's education;
    • learn ways to prepare children for assuming their responsibilities in society;
    • increase skills for problem-solving in a group.

    Materials needed:

  • Interactive Activities
    • Three colors of paint, marbles, plastic spoons, construction or other paper, cardboard box with sides cut down to two inches. A shoe box cover works well with small sheets of paper;
    • Any set of blocks;
    • Easel, paper, and two colors of tempera paint;
    • Outline of a hopscotch board on the floor. Use masking tape for carpeted floor or chalk for a cement floor. Make it large enough for standing on each number without stepping on a dividing line;
    • A small bean bag or stone for each player.


    Greet as usual. Make sure everyone gets a name tag.
    Parent/Child Interactive Activities
    Provides the children with the experience of being the teacher. Reversing roles with parents/teachers often gives insights.
    • Child pretends to be the teacher in a small classroom set up in the drama area. Parent pretends to be the student. Parent asks questions so the child can be a teacher.
    Provides practice in creative play and artistic expression.
    • Parent and child create art designs by rolling marbles in different color paints and then on sheets of paper in a box. For toddlers, you might like to use golf balls instead of marbles.
    Children's Learning Circle
    • Small shoe to pass;
    • Art easel with paper.
    Parent Education
    • Parent Education Handouts PE #8a and #8b;
    • Extra copies of the Convention on the Rights of the Child;
    • Chart paper or chalkboard and pens or chalk.
    Provides concrete learning in pre-math concepts.
    • Parent and child manipulate classroom unit blocks to create structures, roads, buildings and designs.
    Provides opportunity for education about primary colors and creation of secondary colors.
    • Provide red, yellow, and blue paints and place two of these colors on either side of the easel; add paint brushes and extra cups in which to stir new colors. Participants will mix two primary colors to create a new color.
  • Helping Out, by George Ancona
  • Julius, by Agelo Johnson
  • We Play, by Phyllis Hoffman
  • Crow Boy, by Turo Yahima
  • My Apron, by Eric Carle
  • The Fourth Question: A Chinese Tale, by Rosalind C. Wang

    Community Circle

    • 1. Transition: Early childhood teacher speaks to each child, and/or touches them on the shoulder and reminds them that circle time will begin soon. After connecting with each child, the teacher begins a gathering song.
    • 2. "I'm happy to see all of you!" Sing "Shake Hands With Friends and Say Hello."
    • "Today, I'd like to tell you a story. . . Once upon a time there was a land where only the sons and daughters of the kings and queens and very rich people went to school. All the other kids had to stay home and work with their parents all day long. They were not allowed to go to the schools. Some would learn many things from their parents, but some would not learn very much. Who can name a few things they learned from their parents?" (Take a few comments.)
    • ". . . Anyway, back to our story. Some of the people began to worry that the children weren't learning certain things they needed to know. Like, they didn't know how to count, so things couldn't be fair. They didn't know how to read, so people couldn't read the good stories others wrote. So the people got together, and they decided to build a school for all the children.
    • "Let's see what's involved in building a school. Let's use these materials and build one ourselves. We won't take years and years; we'll just take a few minutes." (Provide Legos or Tinker Toys, or Lincoln Logs, or blocks for small groups, or for the entire group, if small enough. Notice how some people begin to give directions, others are silent, some are helpful, some are watching.)

    • "The people in our story had some trouble building their schools. Some people wanted to do it one way, other people wanted to do it another way. Some people were planners, some were doers, and others were watchers and evaluators. Finally, they came to some agreements and were able to build together. When they finished their school, they were very happy. Did you experience any of the same things in your building project?" (Discuss for a few moments what their building experience was like. Ask, "Who was a leader in your group? Who was a builder? Who was an evaluator?") "All these roles are important."
    • "In our story, after the community finished their new school building, they found a teacher and the kids came to school. Most were very happy to finally be able to come to school to get an education, but others didn't take the responsibility to work hard and learn in school. The people who built the school were very sad that some children didn't seem to appreciate all the hard work and money it took to build their school. But they still kept the school going for all the kids who were eager to learn.
    • 3. "The Convention on the Rights of the Child says that kids have a right to have their education be free, all the way up to 12th grade. Do you have any brothers and sisters who are in school? Well, they get to go to school free. Isn't that great? In some places in the world they don't have it set up that way, and the kids don't get to go to school because there is not even a school there, or the people can't afford it! Do you think it's fair that you can go to school and they don't?"
    • 4. "It is a great gift of our society to help children get an education. What do you children think you need to do to show you appreciate this gift?" (Talk about the responsibilities of being a student. Thank children for their thoughts and everyone for their contributions.)
    • 5. Sing your regular closing song or "This Little Light of Mine."

    Separate learning time

    Children's Learning Circle Session 8

    Preparation: During the free choice time, observe children and look for ways they contribute to society or the classroom: cooperating, helping, cleaning up, paying attention, thinking hard, and so on. Take notes so you have a comment for each child.

    • 1. Gather the children with your gathering song.
    • 2. Thank children for their contributions in the play area and the Community Circle. Tell them some specific ways you saw them appreciating the gift of an education. For example, thank those who helped others, helped clean up, or cooperated in a game. Try to find something to thank each child for.
    • 3. "You are doing a good job of taking your responsibilities for getting an education. Let's practice being responsible learners and learn a game to play."
    • 4. "Cobbler, Cobbler, Mend My Shoe" game:
    • Sit in a circle with legs crossed. One person has a shoe, which is passed around the circle behind everyone's back as you sing or chant this verse.

    Cobbler, Cobbler mend my shoe, Have it done by half past two.

    Mend it up and mend it down. Have it done when I come from town.

    • Ask, "Who do you think has the shoe?" Invite children to say aloud who has the shoe. The guesser is celebrated for being a responsible learner and paying close attention. Then he or she gets to start the shoe. While the shoe is being passed, chant the verse again.
    • 5. Your regular closing song or "This Little Light of Mine."

    Books to read:

    1. Helping Out, by George Ancona
    2. The Saucepan Game, by Jan Ormerod
    3. My Apron, by Eric Carle

    Songs to sing:

    1. "Vivala Company," "Sharing Song," "Ring Around the Rosie" (), "Pat -a-Cake" (),
    2. "The More We Get Together."

    Parent Education Session 8

    Preparation: Write the topic title, "Free and Compulsory Education" on chart paper or chalkboard.

    • 2. Action Steps and Journaling Report: "Who would like to share an action step they did this week, or something from their journal? . . . Thank you. Every time we take action or do reflective thinking we learn. Education, or learning, comes in many forms."
    • 3. Activity: "Let's think for a minute about the "education" the learning we experienced in the parent/child interaction time." List the activities each parent and child did in the early childhood classroom. Ask, "Why did we have these activities? What learning or potential learning did our child gain from each activity?"
    • 4. Explain the following in your own words, if it doesn't come out in the previous

    • discussion: "We know that education starts at the earliest age, and we are still learning at the end of our lives. This program is a perfect example of adult learning. One of the things we know, too, is that children learn through their play and recreation. Playing is a child's work."
    • "The focus in early childhood education is toward hands-on, active learning. Children learn reading, writing, and problem-solving through play. For example, marble painting and color mixing develop small muscle coordination, creativity, and self-esteem through satisfaction in the process of a project, organization in following the steps of a project, and learning how to follow directions from the teacher or parents present. Block building teaches mathematical concepts (for example: two small blocks are equal in length to one long block), spatial relationships, creativity, and cooperation skills. Organized games with rules like hopscotch teach spatial relationships, physical skill development, turn taking, rule following, and concepts of competition. Circle time teaches cooperation skills, listening skills, following directions, skills in answering questions in a group setting, word meanings and rhyming, coordination, rhythm, and musical development with voice and body."
    • 5. Discussion:
    • Distribute Why Teach and Learn About Human Rights in Schools? (Handout PE #8b),

  • Do you believe children have a right to this kind of learning? Why or why not?
  • What does a free education mean to you? What does the law say about a child's right to education?
  • Read CRC Articles 17, 28, and 29, either as a group or individually.
    • 6. Small group activity: Ask the class to divide into three groups one to focus on each of the three articles. Ask them to condense to one sentence the article they are assigned.
    • There are short summaries below, along with questions that may be asked to stimulate discussion on each article:
    • Article 17 speaks to the education of the masses and the influence of the media on how our children develop.
    • What is our role in this type of education?
    • How can we advocate for our children's best interest?
    • How can we be role models?
    • What are our responsibilities, as parents, in supporting our children's learning?
    • Article 28 deals with the system of education.
    • What is this article telling us to do?
    • Are we doing this in the United States of America?
    • Article 29 speaks to preparation of our children for living in our society and for helping our children reach their fullest potential.
    • What is this article saying about this?
    • How are we doing as a nation in helping our children achieve these goals?
    • Are the systems set up to support the best interest of the child?
    • If children have a right to a free education, what are their responsibilities?
    • 7. Discussion: Distribute Twenty-five Lessons for Life (Handout PE #8a) and ask participants to read it over.

  • Would you design an educational program around Marian Wright Edelman's 25 lessons? Why or why not?
  • What should education prepare children for?
  • Which points made in the education articles of the Convention are addressed or covered by Edelman in these Twenty-five Lessons for Life?
  • What implications might these articles have on our current educational system?
  • What might Edelman be saying about our current educational system?
    • 8. Optional Discussion: Play/Learner developmental concepts.
    • You may wish to add some information on how recently public education was established in the United States. U.S residents have gained the privilege of education, but it's not so available in all other countries of the world. The class may want to:

  • Discuss whether education is a privilege or a right or both;
  • Brainstorm how education has helped them;
  • Generate a list of things they want to learn about and/or things they want their children to learn;
  • Generate a list of things parents teach their children;
  • Discuss opinions concerning illegal aliens and recent refugees having these same education privileges as those who have been born in this country.
    • 9. Journal Assignment:

    1. Many times our attitude about schools and learning is affected by our own experience. What is my attitude about getting an education?

    2. If my own experience was positive, how can I help my child to have a positive experience as well? If my own experience was negative, how do I talk about education with my children?

    3. How do we want our children to approach learning or education? How can we help them to do so right now (when they are toddlers and preschoolers)?

    4. Who might support these articles we have discussed today? Who might oppose them? Why?

    5. What are the implications/consequences of these articles for underdeveloped nations? What might my role be in supporting high quality education for all?

    • 10. Summary: "The United Nations Convention on The Rights of the Child identifies the aim of education and calls for the full development of the child's personality, talents, mental and physical abilities, and respect for human rights and values. It also prepares the child for life in a free society in the spirit of peace, tolerance, equality, and respect for the natural environment. Thank you for helping to make that happen."
    • "11. Assignment: "Next week we will talk about children's right to play and express their
    • "culture and religion. Before we meet again, I'd like each of you to think of a game that is played in the country of your ancestry, or in some way represents an aspect of your heritage, to teach the group during our Community Circle time. If you can't find a game to play, bring in a memento to share that represents your religion or cultural heritage. Plan to briefly describe it to the group. You may also bring in favorite family books to share with the children in the Children's Learning Circle."

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