First Lady Jill Biden joined the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton in the UK on Friday, attending a classroom with young children before they were set to attend a roundtable on the importance of early childhood education.
The First Lady and the Duchess visited the Connor Downs Academy in Hale, West Cornwall.
Middleton, dressed in a fuchsia dress, arrived first at school and greeted Dr. Biden, who was wearing a white dress and a bright pink blazer. The two chatted together as they walked to school.
School principal Janice Eddie told reporters Friday that the academy is a “trauma-informed school,” meaning they work with students who have experienced trauma in their lives. The school has a waiting list and is funded by the state.
Eddie 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 touch with animals, to understand empathy, to learn to care for them, to raise animals,” Eddie told reporters. “So we have two families of rescued rabbits and the children who take care of all the children have access to the rabbits, and we also have hens with batteries.”
Eddie said the kids were learning about the White House, so they knew who the first lady was.
“They are fully aware of who is coming,” Eddie told reporters. “And obviously incredibly excited about the way he could be a four- or five-year-old. Maybe not completely understanding.”
Middleton and Biden will be involved in activities with children, including showing them how they can help care for rescued bunnies in outdoor classrooms.
The first lady spoke new words to the children, helped some with Legos, and watched the children draw.
“This is very important for the foundation,” Biden said on Friday. “As a teacher at the upper levels, if they don’t have a good foundation, they lag so far behind.”
She added: “It’s amazing to see how advanced they are.”
Biden’s visit with the Duchess came when President Biden made his first trip abroad since taking office. The president must attend the G7 summit, the NATO summit, meetings with the European Council and face-to-face meetings with world leaders.
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Representatives of Biden and Middleton said they visited the school’s “Reception Classroom” to hear how its students are being helped through the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum, which uses child learning 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, was working to “create a caring and challenging environment in which all students are encouraged to reach their full potential”.
“The school recognizes and appreciates the importance of maintaining positive relationships and actively supports the mental health and well-being of both children and staff,” the palace said in a statement on Friday.
Biden and Middleton attended a roundtable with four early childhood experts from the UK – Professor Eamon McCrory, Professor of Neurology and Developmental Psychopathology at University College London; Dr. Trudy Seneviratne of the Royal College of Psychiatrists; and Ed Weinker, CEO of the Reach Foundation.
U.S. experts joined the roundtable discussion through Zoom and included Miriam Calderon, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Learning at the Department of Education; Miranda Lynch-Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Services Policy at the Department of Health and Human Services; and Katie Hamm, HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Childhood Development.
The First Lady and the Duchess of Cambridge discussed “the importance of providing adequate support for both parents and children during early childhood, as well as the positive impact this can have on society as a whole”.
The palace said the Duchess of Cambridge “saw firsthand how the root cause of so many of today’s most difficult social challenges – from ill mental health and addiction to family breakdown and homelessness – could be traced back to the earliest years. from life . ”
The palace said it “worked with experts and spent time listening to the industry, parents, families and caregivers of their experience and work in the early years”.
The palace said the duchess would “step up her work in this area next week, with a keynote message outlining how she would raise the importance of early childhood and continue the conversation on this vital issue.”
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Biden, meanwhile, spent his 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 for early childhood care and education.”
“She, along with President Biden, is committed to increasing opportunities for all children and young people to grow, learn and acquire the skills needed for success,” said her office.
During the roundtable, the Duchess of Cambridge said she “saw how important the first five years of a child’s development are”, saying that “the best investment in our future, health and happiness is in the first five years of life”.
The first lady also discussed the aftermath of the pandemic, but said one of the positives was that “both parents” are getting on.
“I love that you train dads and fathers,” Biden said. “The mother has been caring for so long.”
“The positive thing about the pandemic is that we saw both parents get on board,” Biden continued. “Dad realizes it’s hard.”
She added: “The pandemic has had a positive effect – parents are now working more closely with teachers – it’s just such a fascinating discussion.”
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The first lady traveled with the president to the United Kingdom last Wednesday.
A sports jacket with the inscription “love” printed on the back on Thursday, the first lady told reporters that Bidens “bring love from America, trying to bring unity around the world.”
“It is important that people feel unity and hope after this year of the pandemic,” the first lady said.
Asked about the president’s preparations before his European tour, the first lady said she had “studied for weeks” but noted that she “knew most of the leaders” who would attend the summits from his days as vice president of the Obama administration.
“He’s too prepared,” Biden said.
During her stay in the United Kingdom, the first lady will join the president in a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle.
“Joe and I look forward to meeting the queen,” she said. We’ve been expecting this for weeks.
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She added: “This is a wonderful start.”
The first lady is expected to travel back to the United States on Sunday after meeting the queen. The president must travel to Belgium before the NATO summit.