Child Rights and Advocacy
We go along our busy lives and it is not that we mean to not spend time advocating for children but we get caught up the moments of everyday and put the task aside. Each day that passes becomes another day of silence because even those that know a child’s voice must be heard puts the task aside for later. Take a moment today to just do one act of advocacy. Become involved in change making.
The other day I had an email in my inbox that I kept pushing a day ahead. I finally thought to myself – why am I ignoring this. When I clicked it open I spent a quick ten minutes advocating for education funds. I took the NAEYC form letter below and put my own tweaks and spins into it and then sent it off to the politicians (Obama and the Senators of CA). Now I know that I am just one little voice that will get thrown on the top of the desk or inbox but I have to believe if everyone keeps trekking forward change is bound to happen someday soon. The nation will hear the child’s voice and be called into action for the rights of children. So take a moment to visit the page http://www.naeyc.org/policy and click on the Take Action tab. Then follow the proper steps and clicks before pasting this letter in. Make the tweaks you prefer and hit send. It will blast a few politicians in a matter of minutes with a call out to fund education in the early years (Now if you are me you added words such as concrete experiences, PLAY, quality, and then also spent a few moments to tear up scripted and splinter skill curriculum. But that is me). Don’t stop here! Keep scrolling down and read more before taking this step because there is another step too!
directly impacts them; whether the cause is related to finances,
education, health, or other relevant human experiences. However, many
people forget to take time to advocate for those whom have no voice in the
political world – children. To this day child rights are not addressed
with the same crucial importance as other issues. I am taking a moment to
honor this and speak for the rights of children by asking why do we not
put the rights of children on the list of top priorities? Why do other
countries take the time to protect, honor, and nurture children while the
United States will not even ratify the Declaration of the Rights of a
Child? It is heart breaking to see us ignore this critical issue while
other nations take a step forward. The original document has existed
since 1923 and we still refuse to be a part of this beautiful mission in
the best interest of the children. It is reflective of how we are behind
in providing quality education, quality health care, quality mental health
support, and quality domestic protective services for today’s American
children. My plea is to reconsider our current state of inaction and take
a moment to move in the right direction to serve children with the
ratification of this Declaration. The UNICEF site provides an outline of
the declaration for reference:
Please take a moment to review and advocate for the children of today and
In my regular busyness of life and engaging in reflective practices while also embarking on a journey of bridging advocacy with poetry – my blogging has seemed to dwindle. But the thing about writers and EC people is your brain is always firing. My brain is always firing! So much so I wish I could shut it off at times and actually get a full round of sleep or through a whole session of meditation. Lately when quieting the fire I have been thinking about how I ended up here in the first place and it really comes down to building a strong foundation. So in honor of strong foundations I will be sending out a blitz of resources that contributed to my foundation as an early childhood educator and advocate. I will try to credit the sources as much as possible but some of these are being yanked from my secret hidden pile collected over the years. So apologies in advance for any thievery. I think I will take a break from squawking and ranting and just kick out a bunch of building blocks for the next few weeks. Hope they inspire and intrigue you. With out further adieu…
My first building block (in no order or preference or importance):
Silence are moments that we sink into during reflection and growth spurts. My newest journey has been exploring life through the lens of spoken word and Jam Poetry. It is a beautiful thing that I have been focused on listening to as much as possible. As a poet myself I have been inspired to blend this art with my own passions. My first attempt, Early Childhood Advocacy – of course. So my first recording is surely a work of a novice but my heart is laid out in it – so with out further introduction…
My link to 15 Responses to “All They do is PLAY” :
Spoken Word Script:
15 responses to “all they do is play”…
1. Yes, you are correct all they are doing is playing and by definition “Play” is an activity that has no purpose or objective outside of pure enjoyment or amusement. But of course I am sure you have never benefited or gained any new knowledge or information from an activity that you chose simply for enjoyment. No… Wait don’t forget your ginseng green tea, wouldn’t want your brain power to diminish on the way to your yoga class, soccer game, happy hour ( you don’t say? Your best ideas pop up in your head during those “free moments”). It’s a shame that can’t happen for children. Free moments were amazing ideas are born… Don’t get me wrong I love tea and yoga but what have I done in my 30 years of life that justifies my right to play over a child’s.
2 – I know, unbelievable! After all how could they be learning while playing. Can’t quantify that! Can’t measure it on a scale. No # assigned to it. I’m sorry you only have 75% performance while digging that bucket full of sand… I don’t care that you just learned the difference between More and less Or Heavy and light, Or how not to knock out Johnny in the side of the head when he takes your shovel. Because really are those foundational math and social skills that important?
3 – so there is this famous physicist, he invented the theory of relativity “all motion must be defined relative to a frame of reference and that space and time are relative, rather than absolute concepts”. Einstein. Oh, yes! You know him. He also says “play is the highest form of research”.
4 – you know I have to tell you… There must be some sort of conspiracy going on here. I mean some group of people got together and gathered all this supportive research and studies, wrote these super expensive books, conned hundreds of educators to attend seminars, even convinced me to spend over 60,000 dollars on a piece of paper from higher education institutions… Simply to make me falsely believe that supporting whole child development through active and hands on, authentic, meaningful, interest based experiences is how children learn best. Wait that’s play… And suddenly that concept kinda seems maybe slightly true? To me but still not to you.
5- 3 years ago David Bornstein of the NY times in response to recess cuts blasted that … More than 150 years ago, Charles Dickens created a fictional character, in the novel “hard times” – Thomas Gradgrind – a schoolmaster whom had no use for play or imaginative pursuit of any sort, if something did not demonstrably add to the productive capacity of the nation and could not be justified with facts and statistics, it had no place in a child’s education.
Dickens invented Gradgrind (and introduced him in a chapter entitled “Murdering the Innocents”), emphasizing the focus on rational pursuits and quantitative measures over all else.
Eerily this seems to mirror today’s times.
6 – 60 minutes of math
7 – 60 minutes of reading
8 – 20 or less minutes of recess.
9 – Age 5, 30 minutes of homework,
10 – 12.5 minutes of play,
11 – 11% child depression rate
12 – 11.5 daily youth suicides,
13 – 74.3 million children left behind.
14 – While watching your child play today, soak in their laughter as if it will shield you from the hot burn of the sun. Let the air fill with the rise and fall of their soprano giggle and watch as their eyes light up with wonder as they discover new things. And when you ask them what do you notice? How do you know that? Tell me about that… Let the windows open up and flood you with breezes of knowledge. Because while your child may be able to count to 100, chant out the letters of their name, or match a shape to it’s name – take a moment to be a part of what they really know. Let them share their ideas and observations of the world. Hand them the keys and allow them to open the door to the “100 Languages” they have to offer you. Because red is just red until a tomato bursts between your teeth, and 100 seems small until you count the turns of a tricycle pedal while your small feet press them vigorously in rotation, and a triangle is a just another 3 pointed vector until it stands for home on a map or the bottom of a marking stamping love in a card. Round is just another adjective until it is spotted in the concentric circles and curves of feet scribing the words “I was here”, trailed across wet sand. When skills no longer become splinters we save up to burn for good test scores, but meaningful impressions we have gathered through our journey of life – is when PLAY will truly be honored as a means to learn, to stretch, to grow, to explore and succeed.
15 – We do not listen to the voices of the young. They tell us I am learning, I have discovered, I have come to know… but we turn our backs to them. Plato once said, “Our children from their earliest years must take part in all the more lawful forms of play, for if they are not surrounded with such an atmosphere they can never grow up to be well conducted and virtuous citizens”. But we steal these moments from them and then ask them to be whole. We never consider that by trading A and B for C and D – we might get results we never desired. We can’t turn back a clock and give them these years back – when we find tears in their eyes from the pressure of failing, a gun in their hand because their sense of community is lacking, a pile of pills to pop, and irrational liquid fire impulses to stop, what can we say to the children once they have grown – but that we have failed you by not leaving you and PLAY alone.
~ Jeanne McNiff, Author and Advocate