Sunrise Kindergarten Neohumanist Education in Bucharest
Goals of Neohumanist Education:
- To create an inclusive, loving, creative atmosphere that integrates children with special needs alongside of their typically developing peers.
- To develop a holistic model of early childhood education using the “Neohumanist Education” approach. This model puts the accent on the holistic personal development of the child to encourage their full sensorial, intellectual, creative, empathic and spiritual potentials. It also nurtures an ecological outlook as well as fostering inclusive attitudes.
Beneficiaries: up to 35 preschool children aged 2-6 annually, including up to 4 children with special needs
The first “Gradinita Rasarit” (Sunrise kindergarten) began in 1991 to offer an alternative model of holistic early childhood education, in contrast to the authoritarian, academically focused model of state education practiced during the communist period. In 1995, in response to the social marginalization and invisibility of children with special needs, a second kindergarten was opened with the support of the Swedish Infant Massage Association. This kindergarten was among the first in Bucharest to offer a model of “inclusive education” by integrating special needs children into the curriculum, and providing individualized sessions of physiotherapy and massage during the program for children with locomotor problems. Since then, dozens of children with varying types of special needs have attended – including children with autism, with down syndrome, with cerebral palsy or with ADHD. Including children with special needs benefits all of the children, as it gives opportunties to understand and respect diversity from an early age, as well as to develop empathy and prevent the formation of social barriers that occur from lack of contact with diversity.
Project themes are chosen to continuously address three main areas throughout the school year:
- “I discover the world” – encouraging curiosity and exploration of the natural and man-made world
- “I love all” – encouraging love, empathy and connection – ecological attitudes, pro-diversity attitudes
- “I can help” – encouraging children to find ways to contribute and participate in the community
As it is now widely accepted that children’s worldview and basic beliefs about themselves are formed in early childhood – the kindergarten aims to strengthen children’s self-esteem, creativity, critical thinking capacity and universal love.
In 2010, a few key members of the teaching staff formed the “Association of Neohumanist Education” of Romania and began to articulate their 15 years of experience a curriculum, which was then submitted to the Ministry of Education in 2010. The beaurocratic process of getting the curriculum recognized is still underway. In the meantime, AEN has been organizing innovative teacher trainings with international guest speakers. Author Susan Perrow came to hold interactive workshops on creating therapeutic stories for children, Marcus Bussey held a workshop on “The Future Mirror”, and Christian Franceschini shared his experiences in teaching relaxation and concentration methods for children in schools in Italy.The kindergarten was founded with funds from the Infant Massage Association – Sweden and chapters of AMURT and AMURTEL worldwide. Other significant donors throughout the years include: AMURT Italy, AMURT Fonte Nuova and Amici Nel Mondo, Italy.
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