First Lady Jill Biden joined Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton in the UK on Friday, visiting a class of young children before they took part in a panel discussion on the importance of early childhood education.
The First Lady and Duchess visited Connor Downs Academy in Hayle, West Cornwall.
Middleton, in a fuchsia gown, arrived at school first and greeted Dr Biden, who wore a white gown and a hot pink blazer. The two chatted together as they walked towards the school.
School principal Janice Eddy spoke to reporters on Friday, saying the academy is a “trauma-informed school,” meaning it works with students who have experienced trauma in the school. their life. The school has a waiting list and is funded by the state.
Eddy said the school has outdoor classrooms where children can plant vegetables and flowers and work with animals.
“These animals are meant to support children just to be in contact with animals to understand empathy, to learn to care for them, to raise animals,” Eddy told reporters. “So we have two families of rescued rabbits, and the children take care of all the children that the rabbits have access to, and we also have hens in battery. ”
Eddy said the kids learned about the White House, so they know who the first lady is.
“They know very well who is coming,” Eddy told reporters. “And obviously incredibly excited for the way a four or five year old can be. Maybe he doesn’t fully understand. ”
Middleton and Biden will participate in activities with the children, including showing them how they can help care for rescued rabbits in outdoor classrooms.
The first lady spoke new words with the children, helped some with the Legos and watched the children draw.
“It’s very important for the foundation,” Biden said on Friday. “As a teacher at the higher levels, if they don’t have a good foundation, they are so far behind. ”
She added, “It’s amazing how far along they are. ”
Biden’s visit with the Duchess came as President Biden made his first overseas trip since taking office. The president is expected to participate in the G-7 summit, the NATO summit, meetings with the European Council and face-to-face meetings with world leaders.
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Representatives for Biden and Middleton said they visited the school’s “receiving class” to find out how its students are supported through the “Early Years Foundation Stage” program, which uses child-led instruction to help its students. develop “as independent, confident and successful learners. ”
Kensington Palace said the school, which provides education to students aged 4 to 11, strives to “create a caring and nurturing environment in which all students are encouraged to reach their potential.”
“The school recognizes and values the importance of nurturing positive relationships and actively supports the mental health and well-being of children and staff,” the palace said in a statement on Friday.
Biden and Middleton participated in a panel discussion with four early childhood experts from the UK: Professor Eamon McCrory, professor of developmental neuroscience and psychopathology at University College London; Dr Trudi Seneviratne of the Royal College of Psychiatrists; and Ed Vainker, CEO of the Reach Foundation.
US experts joined the roundtable via Zoom and included Miriam Calderon, the deputy assistant secretary for early learning at the Department of Education; Miranda Lynch-Smith, Assistant Assistant Secretary for Social Services Policy at the Department of Health and Social Services; and Katie Hamm, assistant assistant secretary for early childhood development at HHS.
The First Lady and the Duchess of Cambridge spoke of “the importance of providing adequate support to parents and children during early childhood, and the positive impact this can have on society”.
The Palace said the Duchess of Cambridge has “seen firsthand how the root cause of so many of today’s most difficult social challenges -om poor mental health and drug addiction to family breakdown and homelessness – can be traced back to the first years of life. ”
The palace said she had “worked with experts and spent time listening to the industry, parents, families and caregivers about their experience and work in the early years.”
The palace announced that the Duchess, next week, “will step up her work in this area, with a major announcement outlining how she will elevate the importance of early childhood and continue the conversation on this vital issue.”
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During this time, Biden spent her career as an English teacher and former high school teacher, and as a reading specialist, and “witnessed the struggle of students who lacked a solid foundation in caring. and early childhood education ”.
“She, along with President Biden, are committed to increasing opportunities for all children and youth to grow, learn and acquire the skills they need to be successful,” her office said.
During the roundtable, the Duchess of Cambridge said she “saw how important the first five years of child development are”, saying that “the best investment in our future, our health and our happiness lies in the first five years of life ”.
The first lady also discussed the effects of the pandemic, but said one of the “positive things has been that” both parents “are” getting involved “.
“I love that you educate dads and fathers,” Biden said. “For so long it was the mother who took care of him.
“The good thing about the pandemic, we’ve seen both parents get involved,” Biden continued. “Dads realize it’s difficult. ”
She added: “The pandemic has had a positive effect – parents are now working more closely with teachers – it’s such a fascinating discussion. ”
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The first lady traveled with the President to the UK last Wednesday.
Sporting a jacket with the word “love” printed on the back on Thursday, the first lady told reporters the Bidens “bring love to America, trying to bring unity across the world.”
“It is important that people feel a sense of unity and hope after this year of the pandemic,” said the first lady.
Asked about the president’s preparations ahead of his European tour, the first lady said he “has been studying for weeks,” but noted that he “knows most of the leaders” who will attend the summits from his days as a vice -President of the Obama administration.
“He’s too prepared,” Biden said.
While in the UK, the First Lady will join the President in meeting Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle.
“Joe and I are looking forward to meeting the Queen,” she said. “We have been looking forward to this for weeks. ”
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She added: “It’s a great start. ”
The first lady is expected to return to the United States on Sunday after meeting the Queen. The president is expected to visit Belgium before the NATO summit.