Examining Practice in Relation to the UNCRC

 

Write refelctive essay examing practice in relation to the UNCRC.

 

Introduction

Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister in 1926, had commented, play is the very first claim of a child on the community, and no community should or can infringe upon that right without creating profound damage to the minds and the bodies of their citizens (CRIN, 2018). Substantial evidence today exists, in support of the need and the necessity of children to play freely and safely (Lester & Russell, 2014). Right to play, therefore, has gained significant importance and is a part of the Convention of the Rights of the Child. For the purpose of this reflective essay, right to play of children, will be explored upon, and its importance, necessary regulations will be presented. Subsequently, why is it important  to protect such right to play, and enact in the early childhood education and care would be highlighted along with presenting practices and policies and examples in today’s real world situation. The scope of the paper lies in the fact that it is aimed to provide its readers with a brief but comprehensive account of such an apparently simple but fundamentally critical aspect of early childhood education, which is significant in creating a healthy and stable future generation.     

Analysis

Play is the method through which children explore their very own environments, their world and their relationships and roles. Playing provides ample opportunities to children as they discover, they create, they improvise and they imagine. Children playing with one another results in creating the earliest forms of social groups, they challenge the thinking of one another, and they test their own ideas and build effective understandings (Lester & Russell, 2014). As per the Article 31, of the CRC (“Convention of the Rights of the Child”), every child has the right to play, to leisure, recreation, arts and culture. Article 31, states children have the right to play and to relax by doing things like music, drama and sports. The UNCRC (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child) depicts that children and young individuals, have the right to experience fun in their very own ways (Lyle, 2014). Though it does not often seem like it, this right to play is as critical as any other right depicted in the UNCRC. For a comprehensive and holistic development of a child, it is critical that the child experiences health and happiness, and playing gives them this opportunity. 
The UNCRC is an international treaty that establishes universally accepted and acknowledged rights for children. It acts as a benchmark against which a specific nation’s treatment and mentality of its children can be measured. The treaty brings together in one specific code, all the rights, the benefits, the protection of children otherwise scattered in different agreements, including the 1959 adaptation of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child (Beazley, Bessell, Ennew, & Waterson, 2009). In 1989, this convention was approved officially and now has been ratified by each and every leading country in the globe apart from two. The convention states that, state parties should recognize every children’s right to rest and to leisure, to engage in play and all recreational activities which are appropriate to the age and ensure that they can participate in all the cultural arts and life. It also indicates that the state parties should respect and promote every right of the child, to participate fully in the artistic and cultural life and should encourage the provision of adequate and proper opportunities for artistic, cultural, leisure and recreational activities (Gelb, 2013). 
The question comes down to, why “play” is given so much importance, that a separate article had to be dedicated in the UNCRC. Naturally, the seemingly innocent and prevalent phenomenon which every child engages in, has far reaching mental and physical implications which are incredibly beneficial for the all round development of children, for which, such importance has been assigned to the act of “playing” (Brooker & Woodhead, 2013). Babies and infants learn about themselves through playing and about the world they live in through the interactions in play with their very early caregivers. The young children develop social and physical skills through sharing and inventing games with siblings and peers. Pretend play is a type of play, in which perspective reversal, role rehearsals, joint planning, self regulation is promoted by children. Active play is another type of play, which requires adult guidance and support and children get introduced to ideas about literary and language, physical world and mathematics, and this type of play helps them develop thinking skills. 
Playing helps in creating a supportive environment for children, where the children can ask free questions, solve issues which they face and engage in critical thinking (Davey & Lundy, 2011). 
An example can be stated of my very own childhood when it comes to the importance of play; I grew up with my cousin brothers and sisters and used to learn our mothers prepare our lunch and dinner. It was a very favourite play of ours was to recreate the ‘cooking’ through using grasses, stones and mud. We used mud, to shape gas and ovens, then treat grasses and leaves as the vegetables and stones used to act as plates. It is a simple example, but this showed how we used imagination, creativity, problem-solving and in the process learnt a lot about actual process of cooking. Though it is a very simple example but it helped me later on realize how important it is for us adults to let children freely play and experiment as per their minds desire. 
Play enhances the children’s very desire to gain knowledge and learn (Brooker & Edwards, 2010). Often playing leads to immense knowledge sharing and gain, which traditional systems of knowledge (in classrooms) often cannot bring about. Playing is important as this activity is not bound by any set rules, and children can expand their very own thinking and improves their positive disposition towards knowledge gain and learning. The very immersion of the children in their play defines how the activity of play helps them to just enjoy their existence of being (Brooker, 2010). 
Traditional viewpoints have linked playing to education and development, and considered playing as an action of eliminating labour, and focused on the therapeutic value which playing has in crisis situations (Lester & Russell, 2010). 
It is of crucial importance to protect the right to play, and enact in early childhood care and education as it is through playing can aim at achieving the three P’s which CRC promotes very often – protection, participation and provision. Protection is achieved, through playing as the child is presented with adaptive capabilities and degrees of resilience through play. The experience of playing impacts changes to the very architecture of the brain specifically in the systems which deals with motivation, emotion and rewards and leads to further play. Therefore, play acts across a variety of adaptive systems and contributes to the building up of resilience, overall well being and health. Children get experience of pleasure, can regulate their emotions well, and build their initial stress response mechanism (Sturgess, 2003). 
Participation is also depicted through children’s play and is embedded in everyday life. However for certain children, their immediate environment may be having fear and extreme violence, and local spaces may be inaccessible due to fear of fatality and some regions can be spaces of oppression. Namely, in the case or Syrian refugees, the children are raised in environments of uncertainty, fear and extreme violence. In these areas, adult supervision becomes a critical aspect of the children’s lives, and their natural participation instinct is suppressed. Lastly provision rights should also be promoted as it ensures that social as well as physical environments can support the ability of children to play. 

Conclusion

Adults need to be aware about the importance of playing and need to ensure that the social and the physical environment the children are residing in, should support their play. Or else, these children’s survival, development and wellbeing will get hampered. However this does not indicate providing specific services but the fact that they should not consider playing as only a frivolous activity, and restrict thus for the fear of children getting out of control, and not remain suitable for more disciplined activities. Supporting conditions of – protection, participation and provision must be ascertained to promote the children’s right to play as per the Article 31 of UNCRC. It is our duty as the matured generation of today’s world to remove and prevent all barriers which stop a child’s right to play.

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References

Beazley, H., Bessell, S., Ennew, J., & Waterson, R. (2009). The right to be properly researched: Research with children in a messy, real world. Children’s Geographies, 7(4), 365–378. https://doi.org/10.1080/14733280903234428
Brooker, L. (2010). Taking play seriously. In Rethinking Play and Pedagogy in Early Childhood Education: Concepts, Contexts and Cultures (pp. 152–164). https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203839478
Brooker, L., & Edwards, S. (2010). Engaging Play. Open University Press. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0335235867/ref=olp_product_details?ie=UTF8&me=
Brooker, L., & Woodhead, M. (2013). The Right to Play. Sydney: Milton Keynes.
CRIN. (2018). Right to Play. Retrieved April 2, 2018, from Child Rights International Network: https://www.crin.org/en/library/publications/right-play
Davey, C., & Lundy, L. (2011). Towards greater recognition of the right to play: An analysis of article 31 of the UNCRC. Children and Society, 25(1), 3–14. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1099-0860.2009.00256.x
Gelb, L. H. (2013). The Right Play. Foreign Policy, 18–19.
Lester, S., & Russell, W. (2010). Children’s right to play: An examination of the importance of play in the lives of children worldwide. Early Childhood Development, 57(October 2009), 1–65. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781473907850.n25
Lester, S., & Russell, W. (2014). Children’s right to play. In The SAGE Handbook of Play and Learning in Early Childhood (pp. 294–305). https://doi.org/10.4135/9781473907850.n25
Lyle, S. (2014). Embracing the UNCRC in Wales (UK): Policy, pedagogy and prejudices. Educational Studies, 40(2), 215–232. https://doi.org/10.1080/03055698.2013.870880
Sturgess, J. (2003). A model describing play as a child-chosen activity - Is this still valid in contemporary Australia? Australian Occupational Therapy Journal. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1440-1630.2003.00362.x

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