Today we have a mix of children here at nap time, two twos have fallen asleep on their beds (a mat and a portable crib). The others, a four, a six, and a seven, are busy in private worlds. The four and six spent a long while at the project table, making creations of out cardboard, foam, tape, and glue. The seven read a long, long time in the back room, with the door closed. The four checked in every so often with her and with me in the kitchen doing dishes. Now all three girls are in the back room. I’ve taken lots of pictures today, but for now, I choose not to intrude. I hear soft voices. I hear the click of something on a wooden toddler track toy. I hear pretend animal sounds. I don’t know what they’re playing, but I feel quite sure they’re safe. The door is slightly ajar, and I peek through once or twice, don’t need to go back. Even the twos had private time on their beds. The one on the mat looked at a book, talked to and held a doll, pooped in her diaper. I changed her and put her back to bed, rubbed her back a minute or two while she closed her eyes and fell to sleep, my privilege on a no after school February vacation day when normally I would have been driving to do school pickup. The other two fussed around in his crib, pacifier and blankie and crib and imagination his company, talking softly while Natalie Merchant sang poems turned lullabies nearby.

There has been a lot on the Sudbury Model Discussion listserv this week about strengths and weaknesses of that model. One thing that was mentioned was the importance of privacy for children. My son has told me that is one thing that is different for him in Sudbury Valley as opposed to his public middle school. He can think his own thoughts. He can take time to think about what interests him. Seems a basic right, but so many of our children are not able to do just that, think their own thoughts, think about what interests them. I wonder on the consequences of that as I fight again to save our after school program, insurance canceled on my van as of April 8th unless I stop transporting children, another obstacle to holding after school care in my home, where simple things like doors and small private spaces and rooms and respects for the privacy and autonomy of children allow kids every week day year round, save four when we’re closed for vacation, to think their own thoughts. Children in large institutional after school and camp programs must have time to do the same, but privacy is a rare gift in most large programs, where staff must observe children full time, where play behind a closed door or under a bush or in the woods might be prohibited, where even using the bathroom is monitored by passes and sign out sheets and punishable, in schools, if not in child care programs, by loss of recess or other contradictory measures for a child who needs time to think his or her own thoughts.

Another thing worth fighting for, and I wonder if it’s written somewhere, must google The International Rights of the Child and see who’s on this so far.

Here’s what I found, excerpted from the full statement on the International Rights of the Child,

Article 12

1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.

Article 13

1. The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child’s choice.

2. The exercise of this right may be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:

(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others; or

(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.

Article 14

1. States Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

2. States Parties shall respect the rights and duties of the parents and, when applicable, legal guardians, to provide direction to the child in the exercise of his or her right in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child.

3. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

Article 15

1. States Parties recognize the rights of the child to freedom of association and to freedom of peaceful assembly.

2. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of these rights other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Article 16

1. No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation.

2. The child has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 17

States Parties recognize the important function performed by the mass media and shall ensure that the child has access to information and material from a diversity of national and international sources, especially those aimed at the promotion of his or her social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health.

To this end, States Parties shall:

(a) Encourage the mass media to disseminate information and material of social and cultural benefit to the child and in accordance with the spirit of article 29;

(b) Encourage international co-operation in the production, exchange and dissemination of such information and material from a diversity of cultural, national and international sources;

(c) Encourage the production and dissemination of children’s books;

(d) Encourage the mass media to have particular regard to the linguistic needs of the child who belongs to a minority group or who is indigenous;

(e) Encourage the development of appropriate guidelines for the protection of the child from information and material injurious to his or her well-being, bearing in mind the provisions of articles 13 and 18.