Equilibrium held a conference dedicated to early childhood on 20 January 21, 2017 in the Regional History Museum in Ruse.
David Bisset, the chairman of the organization, presented the project which is being implemented in Ruse with the financial support of the Velux Foundations.
With the help of some intriguing stories he outlined the main goals Equilibrium sets by implementing this project: the creation of a facility where a team of experts will work directly with children and families but it will also provide knowhow in early childhood development and practical methods of working with children aged 0 – 7 to the educational community and childcare professionals. This is not going to be a social service. It is not a kindergarten. This is a new and independent venture.
This demo-centre has the ambition to show a different approach to working with children under the age of 7. It promotes genuine play which is freely chosen by the child, it is personally directed by the child, it is intrinsically motivated and is not provoked by external rewards or coercion and it actively engages the child in a stimulating and stress-free environment that he / she is motivated to explore.
Equilibrium has been developing and applying this approach – learning and development through play and adventures in nature – for over 12 years and now we have found parallel practices, allies and partners in the face of Cowgate Under 5’s Centre in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Official guests at the conference were the creators of this centre – Dr. Lynn McNair and Teresa Bolger. They defined the main principles of the Cowgate model rooted in the theory and practice of Friedrich Froebel, the person who provided us with the word “kindergarten”.
“Play is the highest level of child development. It is the spontaneous expression of thought and feeling – an expression which his inner life requires. This is the meaning of the word “play”…It promotes enjoyment, satisfaction, serenity, and constitutes the source of all that can benefit the child…” claimed and proved by Froebel back in 1828.
The model and principles of Froebel as well as the centre, presented by Lynn and Teresa, provoked many questions and an animated discussion with the audience at the conference.
The Scottish ladies brought, especially for the conference, some of the “treasures” they use in their work and these are the most interesting for children loose parts – wooden and woolen balls, wooden spoons and sticks, pinecones collected in nature, etc.
A proof that these “treasures” are especially exciting and favourite for the children was given to the audience and all participants at the conference by young Julia who spontaneously walked towards the basket full of different objects on the stage and absolutely naturally demonstrated what to do with these “priceless treasures”.
Bulgaria’s first interactive centre “In the world of early childhood” will be open during 2017 in Ruse and we from Equilibrium hope that this will provoke positive change in parents, teachers, the academic community and the institutions in Bulgaria concerning the importance of the early years for the development of every child. We seek change in the approaches, the environment and the attitude towards the youngest ones.