Kids teach Children’s Commissioner the right way to play  

Nursery children from Ellon in Aberdeenshire celebrated World Children’s Day with the Children’s Commissioner by teaching him the best ways to play and learn about nature and the environment – all from their woodland yurt.

The Commissioner (pictured right with three-year-old Ethan) and his team joined children from Haddo Woodland Kindergarten, a fully outdoors nursery setting, to learn about how they are exploring their human rights through nature-based play.

The kindergarten, which cares for children aged two to six, uses nature-based play to teach sustainability, conservation and environmental awareness. This month as Scotland hosted COP26, children have talked to the Commissioner about their environmental rights and their ask that more learning is focussed on climate change and action on this.

The team at the kindergarten have been working with the children to develop a toolkit with NDNA Scotland on their rights which has been launched to coincide with Scotland committing to incorporating the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots law.

Four-year-old Layla (pictured right), who invited the Commissioner into the nursery when he arrived, said: “Bruce had a shot on the swing. I made him some pretend soup.”

Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland Bruce Adamson said: “Children have the right to have their views taken into account in all matters which affect them, and there is no minimum age to this. The youngest children have incredible ideas and insight about their lives, the environment they grow up in, and about the world.

“A rights-based education should be creative and fun and the best ideas on how to achieve this always come from children. The goal of education is to develop children to their fullest potential and play is the foundation of that. The importance of the right to play has been widely recognised as part of children’s development and I think we can all learn a lot from the creative ideas in early years settings. 

“We’ve all had an amazing time here today. There has been lots of laughter and smiles, and the children have been brilliant at teaching us how they have fun and learn about their rights.” 

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA Scotland, said: “We’re delighted the Commissioner has been to see some of the great work nurseries are doing to keep children’s rights at the heart of what they do. 

“Haddo Kindy - along with other member nurseries - worked with us to develop a toolkit that supports ELC settings incorporate the UNCRC into daily practice. In particular, they worked on a floorbook which captures the children’s understanding and awareness of their rights, regardless of their age or stage of development. 

“Recent events at COP26 have highlighted how important it is that our young children learn about how to respect, nurture and enjoy nature all around them. 

“Early learning and childcare providers have a strong history of focussing on children’s rights and getting the best outcomes for the children in their care. It’s great to see this first hand at nurseries like Haddo Kindy which offer fantastic outdoor environment full of engaging play and learning opportunities.”

This visit is a part of a rolling programme for the Commissioner and his team to meet and work with children and young people face-to-face in places they have not been able to travel to previously due to Covid-19 measures.

Haddo Woodland Kindergarten have worked with NDNA Scotland to prepare resources for nurseries to for complying with the UNCRC. Jane and Hannah from NDNA Scotland are pictured above with the Commissioner and their publication "Listen to Me". The toolkit, free for member nurseries, and a free information guide for non members, are available here