Implementation period: April, 2016 – March, 2019
Funding: The Velux Foundations
Role of the organisation: contractor
Aim: Creation of a facility where we work directly with families with young children but 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 a social service. It is an independent venture.
The chosen location is Dorisol Street (next to a large kindergarten and close to the university).
We strongly oppose the use of an excessively structured, heavily academicalized approach to working with children before the age of seven.
We promote free play
- It is freely chosen by the child
- It is personally directed by the child
- It is intrinsically motivated and is not provoked by external rewards (e.g. adult applause) or coercion (e.g. pressure to learn applied by adults)
- It actively engages the child in a stimulating and stress-free environment that she is motivated to explore
Engaging with families
During 2016, we talked at length with parents of young children. They’ve told us they want things that are currently lacking in Bulgaria – ease of access to advisors and resources; comfortable, welcoming meeting-places where families can receive informal help; simple, positive communication; the opportunity to share and participate in a parents’ group.
Reaching a better place: tolerance and diversity
We want to create a new facility because we recognize that a significant gulf separates early years’ care and education in Bulgaria and the most progressive European approaches. Extensive, international research reveals that there are dangers associated with the academicalization and of kindergarten and pre-school activities.
Partnerships with family centres in Gothenburg have taught us how educators, child protection officers and health professionals can speak a simple common language and reflect a shared commitment to serving the needs of young children based on solid understanding of how children develop cognitively, socially, emotionally and spiritually. In Edinburgh we’ll work with award-winning kindergartens that rightly prioritize play over pedagogy and discipline and show extraordinary results. We will create an environment for children aged 0-7 based on their modern interpretation of the teaching of Friedrich Froebel.
Creating common understanding of how young children learn and develop
A new, integrated approach to family support must be based on a solid understanding of how young children learn and develop. There is a need for significant change in professional attitudes and vast improvement in understanding of the subject in Bulgaria.
The new centre will offer the human and material resources needed to serve parents, educators and childcare professionals and to promote family health and wellbeing. The team will work directly with families and the facility will act as an “incubator” for the localization of workable models that are scalable and potentially high-impact.
The learning framework is clear and simple
We have created a Learning Framework that sets the boundaries for our work and defines clear principles for our approach.
A learning environment that is adaptable and affordable
We will be radical in the use of space and internal fixtures making maximum use of natural materials and employing ” loose parts play” that substitutes everyday materials for the normal “educational” toys and technologies. The environment will be adaptable incorporating objects that are movable and have multiple uses. This will support children’s drama and storytelling.
The new centre will be a place where ideas are exchanged and families contribute to growth and development. We will use their skills, talents and passions.
For further information about the project activities visit our website: www.eq-bg.org