First Lady Jill Biden joined the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton in the UK on Friday, visiting a classroom with young children before being put on a roundtable discussion on the importance of early childhood education.
The first lady and duchess visited the Connor Downs Academy in Hayle, West Cornwall.
Middleton, wearing a fuchsia dress, first arrived at the school and greeted Dr. Biden, who wore a white dress and a pink blazer. The two talked 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 they work with students who have experienced trauma in their lives. The school has a waiting list and is state-funded.
Eddy said the school has outdoor classrooms where children are able to plant vegetables and flowers and work with animals.
“These animals are very much about supporting the children just to be in touch with the animals to understand empathy, to learn to take care of them, to care for the animals,” Eddy told reporters. “So we have two families with rescued rabbits, and that children care all children have access to, to the rabbits, and we also have battery hens.”
Eddy said the kids have learned about the White House so they are aware of who the first lady is.
“They are fully aware of who is coming,” Eddy told reporters. “And obviously incredibly excited in the way that a four or five year old can be. Maybe not quite understanding.”
Middleton and Biden will participate in activities with the children, including showing them how they can help care for the rescued rabbits in the outdoor classrooms.
The first lady sounded new words with the kids, helped some with Legos and watched the kids draw.
“It is very important for the foundation,” Biden said on Friday. “As teachers at the upper levels, if they do not have a good foundation, they fall so far behind.”
She added: “This is amazing to see how far they have come.”
The city’s visit to the Duchess came as President Biden made his first overseas trip since taking office. The President is set to attend the G-7 Summit, the NATO Summit, meetings of the European Council and face-to-face meetings with world leaders.
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Biden and Middleton’s representatives said they visited the school’s “Reception Class” to hear how its students are supported through the “Early Years Foundation Stage” curriculum, which uses children’s guided instruction to help its students develop “as independent, confident and successful students. ”
Kensington Palace said the school, which provides education to students aged 4 to 11, is working to “create a caring and challenging environment where all students are encouraged to reach their full potential.”
“The school recognizes and values the importance of nurturing positive relationships and actively supports the mental health and well-being of both children and staff,” the palace said in a statement Friday.
Biden and Middleton participated in a round table with four early childhood experts from the United Kingdom – 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.
U.S. experts joined the roundtable discussion via Zoom and included Miriam Calderon, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Learning from 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, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Childhood Development at HHS.
The First Lady and Duchess of Cambridge discussed “the importance of providing adequate support to both parents and children in early childhood and the positive impact this can have on society as a whole.”
The palace said the Duchess of Cambridge has “seen first-hand how the root cause of so many of today’s toughest social challenges – from poor mental health and dependence to family breakdown and homelessness – can be traced all the way back to the earliest years of life.”
The palace said she “has worked with experts and spent time listening to the sector, parents, families and carers about their experience of and working with the early years.”
The palace announced that next week the Duchess will “intensify her work in this area with a major announcement outlining how she will raise the importance of early childhood and continue the conversation on this vital topic.”
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Meanwhile, Biden spent his career as an English professor and former high school teacher and as a reading specialist and “has witnessed the students’ struggle that lacked a solid foundation for early child care and education.”
“Together with President Biden, she is committed to increasing the opportunities for all children and young people to grow, learn and acquire the skills they need to succeed,” her office said.
During the round table, the Duchess of Cambridge said she has “seen 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 effects of the pandemic, but said that one of the “positive things has been that” both parents “” throw themselves into it. ”
“I love that you educate fathers and fathers,” Biden said. “For so long it has been the mother’s care.”
“The positive thing about the pandemic we have seen both parents look up to,” Biden continued. “Dads who are aware that it is difficult.”
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 Britain last Wednesday.
In a jacket with the word “love” printed on its back on Thursday, the first lady told reporters that Bidens “brings love from America and tries to bring unity across the globe.”
“It’s important for people to feel a sense of unity and hope after the years of the pandemic,” the first lady said.
When asked about the president’s preparations ahead of his European tour, the first lady said he has “studied for several weeks”, but noted that he “knows most of the leaders” who will attend the summits from his days as vice president of the Obama administration.
“He’s over-prepared,” Biden said.
During her time in Britain, the First Lady will join the President to meet Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle.
“Joe and I look forward to meeting the Queen,” she said. “We’ve been looking forward to this for weeks.”
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She added: “It’s a beautiful beginning.”
The first lady is expected to travel back to the United States on Sunday after meeting with the Queen. The president will travel to Belgium before the NATO summit.