Nursery school-going children fall between the ages of three and six. This is because at six years, a child is ready to begin his or her primary education.
Like the rest of the children, the rights of nursery-going children are provided for under various bodies like the International Convention of the Rights of the Child 1989, the Constitution, and the Children’s Act.
According to Ms Sylvia Namubiru Mukasa, advocate and director of programme at the Centre for Justice Studies and Innovation, unlike older children, a nursery-going child is of a tender age.
“Their timing for food is different from other age categories. Their learning time is from morning to afternoon,” says Ms Namubiru, adding: “Their mental capability is also still in formation, therefore, their learning should be aided by a very conducive and attractive learning environment with their curriculum guided by early childhood and learning modules.”
The book, Early Childhood in Focus, edited by John Oates, Annette Karmiloff-Smith and Mark H. Johnson, stresses the importance of proper brain development in both pregnancy and early childhood.
“Infants respond to visual and auditory stimulation, especially human faces and voices, and the provision of a rich social environment helps the social brain develop faster. Emphasis is given to their right to play and to enjoy early child hood socialisation,” the authors say.
The early childhood manual also cites other critical measures that are helpful to nursery children’s proper growth as follows; exposure to a rich language environment; a healthy diet and sufficient sleep; and avoidance of neglect and other forms of maltreatment, which usually have a negative impact on them.
Many nursery and daycare centres can be found in various suburbs. But parents need to make sure they take the rights of the children, some of which are listed below, into consideration.
1. A good learning environment
Namubiru explains that in most cases, nursery schools’ learning environment is not conducive and it violates the young ones’ right to health and play.
“Many nursery proprietors get their home-designed structures and turn them into nursery schools. They lack playing grounds, good toilets, playing kits and aides, and children are most of the times confined indoors and denied the right to play,” she observes.
2. Well trained teachers and caretakers
Namubiru also says that many of the nursery and early childhood learning placements lack skilled and experienced nursery teachers and caretakers. The proprietors employ labourers, who are often frustrated by their own social problems and may be harsh and rude to the children.
“Nursery-going children need to be pampered and allowed to socialise in the manner they feel more comfortable.
The care takers have to be free from stress, have to be well provided for and happy, to enable them love and care for these children,” she adds.
Namubiru further explains that the caretakers and teachers need to provide guidance in a loving and empathetic tone so that the children are supported to appreciate school and benefits of learning.
She also says the children have to be corrected in love and with age appropriate correction interventions.
3. Lessons for their age
Another problem in many nursery schools, Namubiru says, is that due to liberalisation of education, there is emerging competition tagged around class performance rather than nursery learning outcomes, and there are situations where a nursery curriculum is raised to levels of primary.