I may only have had 5 hours sleep last night, but the bags were forgotten upon our arrival at Sunflower kindergarten. What an inspirational place!
We had the privilege of watching two sessions, talking to the teacher, the director and the vice mayor. The kindergarten is for 3-7 year olds and kindergarten is compulsory 9-4 daily (although open 6.30-5.30).
There are 6 classes of mixed age children, they stay in the class with their teachers for 3 years, only moving up to school when they are actually ready. There are daily music sessions taught by their teacher, and I will return to these. The focus of kindergarten is PLAY. There is no formal teaching of reading, writing, until they get to school.
The first session was class music. I won't go through everything they did, but in short the laughter, joy and engagement of those children was immense.
The whole atmosphere at Sunflower was relaxed and calm. Children were definitely scoring highly on the Leuven scales of well-being and engagement.
We were there for over 2.5 hours. Teachers & children were calm, focused, engaged. Behaviour was beautiful. Children were happy.
Why oh why does the UK have the highest number of unhappy children in Europe? Why does the Netherlands have the lowest? Is it because in and amongst league tables, expectations, politics, material wealth, school pressure, that we forget to let our children do what they do best?..... Be children?