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Yesterday I gave a lecture (mostly a conversation really) for children about children’s rights. It was so great! Some of the children had prepared an exposition about children’s rights. One of the important questions we discussed was: what is the meaning of children’s legal rights for your daily life? It turned out that if adults (parents, teachers) do not realize these rights they are virtually non-existent. Because it is parents and teachers who decide directly over children. So a legal right to play and leisure does not mean much if your parents say you have to work all day.

In relation to adults and decision making, the children said they wanted to be heard, trusted and taken seriously more by adults.

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After we discussed the child’s right to education. One of the questions we discussed was whether homeschooling respects the child’s right to education. Most children agreed that homeschooling should not be the choice of the parent only, but children should have a say. The children who were in school, said they would miss their friends and that they think the social side of school (learning social skills and relations) is an important part of education. Then one boy spoke up, who said that sometimes school education in a big group is not possible because of a child’s disabilities. The children agreed that in that case, home education might be a good idea but it would be even better if you could for example use a webcam in the classroom so that the child can also still be a part of the social process. This one boy then admitted that he is in fact being currently homeschooled and furthermore he admitted that indeed, for a long time he did not have any friends and now he had only one.

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It was so amazing and brave of this boy to share his experiences – but in fact, it was of all children. They were all so great, open and respectful and sharing their thoughts and experiences. It was a really wonderful and inspiring evening. And in the end they came up and asked me for a signature! :)

The children’s rights exposition can also be seen during the presentation of my research report “what children have a right to education?”, about children’s rights to education in the Netherlands, with a special focus on homeschooling, children out of school and Roma children. If you would like to attend the presentation, please send an email to m.j.hopman@uvt.nl.