Module 1: Module 1 - Childhood and children’s rights

Introduction to Module 1

This is the first module in a course of five modules designed to provide health workers with a comprehensive introduction to children’s rights. While the modules can be studied separately, they are designed to build on each other in order.

Module 1: Childhood and children’s rights

Module 2: Children’s rights and the law

Module 3: Children’s rights in health practice

Module 4: Children’s rights in the wider environment: the role of the health worker

Module 5: Children’s rights: planning, monitoring and evaluation

Module 1 of the curriculum provides an overall introduction to childhood and the idea of children’s needs and rights. An understanding of these issues will be necessary in order to make sense of the following modules on how to respect children’s rights in your role as a health worker. The module comprises three study sessions, each designed to take approximately two hours to complete. The sessions provide you with a basic introduction to the subject and are supported by a range of activities to help you develop your understanding and knowledge. The activities are usually followed by a discussion of the topic, but in some cases the answers are at the end of the study session. Please compose your own answer before comparing it with the answer provided. We have provided you with space to write your notes after an activity, however if you wish, you can use a notebook.

  • Study Session 1 explores what we mean by childhood, how it is understood in different societies and some of the characteristics of being a child. It examines how children can be treated differently depending on whether, for example, they are a boy or a girl, or if they have a disability. And it provides you with an opportunity to explore your own attitudes towards childhood and how children should be treated. By the end of the session, you should have developed some insight into different approaches to understanding childhood, have a better understanding of your own views and behaviours towards children and be able to recognise some of the ways in which childhood is a unique and distinctive phase of life.
  • Study Session 2 builds on the learning about childhood from the previous session and introduces you to the different stages of development in a child’s life. It provides an overview of some of the key changes that take place in children’s development from birth through to adolescence. It also examines the factors that influence how well children develop, such as social and economic conditions, the opportunities for children to learn and play, and the encouragement provided by key adults in the child’s life. By the end of the session, you should have a broad understanding of the different aspects of child development and at roughly what ages children should acquire different skills, knowledge and capacities. You should also have a clear idea of why knowledge of child development is important for you as a health worker, and how to use that knowledge.
  • Study Session 3 explores the different needs children have if they are to grow up healthy and well. It examines how, although all children have the same needs, the way those needs must be met will change gradually as children grow older. The session then introduces you to the idea that there is wide international agreement that all children have the same needs and that adults have responsibilities for making sure those needs are met. This has led to a recognition that children are entitled to have needs met – in other words, they have rights. By the end of the session, you should have a clear understanding of children’s needs, the obligation of adults to meet those needs and the relationship between needs and rights.

1 Understanding childhood