Children’s Bill Of Rights – The Right to Time OffThursday, April 26th, 2012
The following is part of a series of articles on the rights and responsibilities of children and of families. On our site, we’ve published a Children’s Bill Of Rights, with all of the sections in the bill. You can take a look at Children’s Bill of Rights.
(To read additional articles about Children’s Rights and the specific rights recommended in the Children’s Bill of Rights, look through this blog, and at Homeschool Hows & Whys.)
The Right To Time Off
Every child has the right to a reasonable amount of leisure (“free”) time. This time is to be used as the child wishes.
Every child has the right to enjoy some sort of outdoor activities and play, and as close to every day as is possible.
Freedom is a beloved and precious commodity. Most of us take this as a fact and for granted. Of course freedom is important.
But why is freedom important?
To begin to answer this question, we need to have a good, working definition of the word “freedom”. For the sake of this discussion, let’s define freedom as “The right and ability to move, speak, think, believe and act as and when one pleases, so long as others are not harmed”. This is far from a complete definition, but it will suffice for our discussion.
Freedom is important because without it, one cannot do the things that he wants to do. Sometimes, freedoms are restricted so that the speaking of certain words or thoughts can get one in trouble. In some countries, for example, speaking against the regime in power will get one killed.
Sometimes, certain acts (which actually harm no one) can get one in trouble. For instance, the burning of a national flag as a form of protest in fact hurts no person (unless someone holds on to a match too long). But it can infuriate, and cause reprisals.
We are talking about children’s rights. Children are adults in the making, and should have as many rights as can be reasonably provided them. This is a part of their “adult training”. There are limits that make sense to the freedoms given children. No child should simply be allowed to place their hands in a flame to see what happens. No child should be allowed to hit or harm another person. With rights, there must be attendant responsibilities.
But freedom is important, and no less so to a child than to an adult. In fact, it’s an easy argument to make that a child requires a degree of freedom more than an adult. To do well in life, children must experience life and then consider and assimilate its lessons. What is experienced can be, and often is, directed by parents and others, at least to some extent. This is okay so long as the child also has the freedom to experience aspects of his own life without direction.
As we’ve discussed earlier, one never knows what interests will help shape a person’s life as he moves from childhood toward adulthood. A child who is not free to discover and experience things may well miss out on the one activity that would have made his life sing. A child forced into a regimented schedule, one without freedom to rest, to explore, to play, a child not let loose to generally form his own opinions and experience, is almost assuredly going to be less of an adult than he might have become. Such a child may very well know a whole lot less than the heights that would have opened up had he been permitted to reach for them.
For any human being, rest is necessary for survival. Bodies don’t last long without appropriate rest, and only the person himself (children included) knows when he really needs rest. Rest provides more than physical respite. It also provides a chance to withdraw from one’s overly busy life. It provides a gap in which one may consider and evaluate what’s going on. That distance, that opportunity to think and consider often proves to be the difference between failure and success. This is every bit as true for a child as it is for an adult.
For a child, exposure equals learning. Exposure to the world is critical to a child’s understanding of the world. Running around a park, a beach, a baseball diamond, playing outdoors somewhere exposes the child to the elements in a controlled, desired fashion. It exposes him to perhaps previously unknown limits, strengths and skills inherent in his body. It exercises the child’s developing body and mind, and is a part of a child’s learning process. Again, such activity is truly critical and should happen every day.
Free time allows a chance to run, play, exercise, create, consider, and understand. This all equates in very real ways to improved lives and more valuable adults. In ensuring that our child has this right, we help guarantee not only his future but the future of the civilization he will participate in as an adult. We help guarantee that he will bring to the adult table the very best he may have to offer.