Equilibrium believes that quality early care and education is crucial for children’s development into independent and competent adults. Having created in 2017 the first Early Childhood Development Resources Centre in Ruse in support of parents, educators and social workers, we have initiated the modernization of nursery and pre-school education in Bulgaria through our recent project: Reform of Early Childhood Education in Eastern Europe – Bulgaria.
Implementation period: January, 2019 to December, 2021
Source of funding: Villum Foundation, Denmark
We are a local partner to VIA University College, Faculty of Education and Social Studies, Denmark
The overall aim is to stimulate national awareness of the importance of high quality in Early Childhood Education. This will be achieved through creating state-of-the-art pedagogy and learning environments in the kindergartens chosen for reform and creating awareness among key stakeholders and the national media. Project actions will result in the transformation of the pedagogical approach and learning environment in the Sofia kindergarten “Brothers Grimm”. In addition, the Ruse kindergarten “Snow White” will benefit from the training undertaken in Sofia and the concrete example provided.
Transformation of the pedagogical approach on the basis of training and competence development while working within the boundaries of existing curricula and regulatory frameworks
Extensive redesign and renovation of indoor and outdoor areas and investment in new equipment
Capturing parental support
Creation of a concrete model for demonstration to government and other stakeholders
Commencing in March, 2020, quarantine measures relating to COVID 19 made it impossible for Danish trainers to visit Bulgarian kindergartens. However, the project team has devised a new formula. Short lectures will be delivered from a distance (online) and the emphasis on practical group work will be increased.
Design and Renovation
When working with children, it is quite natural for a great deal of activity to be performed at floor or ground level. Additionally, kindergartens tend to be equipped with special furniture for children and this demands that adults bound down or crouch in order to operate at “child level”. However, many learning opportunities happen at “adult level”. By way of example, serving food at child level is unnatural in the western social context.
High chairs have been manufactured by a Bulgarian craftsman to enable small children to climb to adult level where they can both learn to help with a variety of activities and share experiences in a more natural context.
An agreement has been reached with the Sofia local authority for large parts of the outdoor play area at “Brothers Grimm” to be landscaped. Under a programme led by LATT – Landscape & Architecture new features will be installed that provide greater scope for imaginative, adventurous play and the social, cognitive and motor development of young children.
Engagement with Parents
During February, 2020, the staff at “Brothers Grimm” hosted a highly successful parents’ evening during which they demonstrated group activities with children that parents don’t normally see. Additionally, Elisabeth Schojt Laursen (VIA University College) and David Bisset (Equilibrium) answered questions about the project.
Pictorial and video material have been uploaded onto the kindergarten websites that provide parents with an insight into progress.