Did you know December 10th is Human Rights Day?
In fact, 2015 kicks off a year-long campaign in celebration of the 50th anniversary of two international treaties that shaped the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
What does this have to do with early childhood education? It is never too early to start teaching children about their basic rights and how to respect the rights of other people. To give you an idea of how to approach the topic with children, we asked a few of our authors how they incorporate human rights education into their classrooms.
Julie Bisson, author of Celebrate! An Anti-Bias Guide to Enjoying Holidays in Early Childhood Programs, approaches the topic of human rights similar to other anti-bias topics. She uses the four goals of anti-bias education as a guide:
- To foster a positive self-identity within the context of a group identity.
- To facilitate knowledgeable, empathic interactions with people who are different from oneself.
- To foster critical thinking about bias.
- To help children stand up for themselves and others in the face of bias.
(Source: Celebrate! An Anti-Bias Guide to Enjoying Holidays in Early Childhood Programs, 1997, Redleaf Press)
Start the conversation with what the children know about the topic such as what they feel is fair and unfair. Build on that by discussing how actions can make other people feel and perhaps how they can help make sure others aren’t treated unfairly.
The author of The Kindness Curriculum, Second Edition: Stop Bullying Before it Starts, Judith Rice, also recommends putting the children themselves at the center of the topic. Starting with two building blocks – respect and kindness – parents, teachers, and child care providers can introduce children to the concept of human rights. Judith recommends teaching children about basic emotions and how to express them appropriately so they can better understand peer’s emotions. She also teaches the children in her care how to create boundaries by encouraging them to stand up for themselves in a respectful way and practice asking for help.
How are you celebrating Human Rights Day and teaching the next generation about these “equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family” that make up “the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”?
(Preamble of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, United Nations)