By CELA on 16 Oct, 2020

Children’s Week (24 October to 1 November) is an annual event that celebrates and highlights children’s rights and achievements, including the right to enjoy childhood.

This years’ theme focuses on Article 15 from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child:

Children have the right to meet together and to join groups and organisations, as long as this does not stop other people from enjoying their rights.

CELA’s Research and Policy Manager Megan O’Connell unpacks this year’s theme to highlight the relevance for educators and children in early years settings.

What we can learn about, and from, this year’s theme

This year’s theme has a two-fold focus – the right of children to have the ability to choose who they wish to play with, and the obligation for children to be mindful of the impact of their actions on others.

Learning about others

Children in the early years are connecting with each other even before they are verbal. Children’s week provides the opportunity to focus on the early mechanics of friendship, including to share stories, talk about and artistically represent what makes a friendship.

Children learn to play together throughout the early years and may need assistance to join friendship groups.

Sometimes play can cause discomfort or exclusion of other children. Understanding other children’s emotions is a skill that is practised and learned during and after early childhood.

Educators can consider how to model friendship behaviours, and how to support children to recognise and think about how their actions affect others.

There are a wide range of resources educators can locate to provide inspiration.

Ideas include:

  • Make different faces showing emotions and have children guess what you might be feeling.
  • Throughout the day, help children learn how to name their own emotions.
  • Read stories and ask children to guess the emotions of the characters.  Ask questions like “What are they feeling?” “How do you know what they are feeling?” “Can you make a similar face?”.
  • Make up funny songs that have emotions matched to the lyrics.

Learning to be safe

Children’s Week is also an opportunity to build children’s understanding of what rights are, and how children can keep themselves and other children safe.

During COVID-19, children of all ages have engaged in remote learning and faced additional challenges with remaining safe online. It is never too early to discuss online safety with children.

The Alannah and Madeleine Foundation have developed a Playing it Safe Website that provides a range of age-appropriate activities

The E-safety Commissioner has a range of resources targeted at under 5’s, parents and educators. Their key message of “Be safe, be kind, ask for help and make good choices” aligns neatly with the theme for this year’s Children’s Week.

You might like to play the Play School e-safety episode Kiya’s e-birthday and discuss what online safety means. There is an educator guide available too.

Understanding rights

Across the country, states and territories are marking Children’s Week in different ways.

Children’s Rights Queensland are running a competition for children as young as 3 to design a new font. They have a great alphabet chart with every letter referring to a particular right.

A simple way of starting might be to talk about what a right is – this summary from Children’s Rights Queensland could be used to start a conversation:

Every child is special and should have a safe, happy and healthy upbringing. The United Nations, along with countries around the world developed a set of rights aimed at ensuring every child can reach their full potential. This document is known as ‘The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

  • What do children think a right is?
  • How many can they suggest, draw or make?

Children’s Rights Queensland has a list of rights that could be discussed with preschoolers and older children.

You might find that some rights are easier to talk about with younger children than others, and lend themselves to more creative and interactive activities.

Queensland preschoolers might want to enter the Typerights competition by designing a creative letter.

Celebrating together

This year’s celebrations will need to look a little different to other years, given COVID-19 restrictions across many states and territories.

Celebrating the rights of children is always important – the right of children to meet has been challenged this year due to limits on movement with COVID-19.

Children’s week provides the opportunity to celebrate the rights of children, including the importance of children playing and learning together.

Whilst you may not be able to host visitors, you can hold a dress-up day or a special morning tea, or perhaps a virtual art exhibition!

Let us know how you are marking Children’s Week.

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Community Early Learning Australia is a not for profit organisation with a focus on amplifying the value of early learning for every child across Australia - representing our members and uniting our sector as a force for quality education and care.

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