U.S. first lady Jill Biden and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, admired drawings, stacked Legos and fed rabbits with about 20 children in a preschool tour Friday designed to showcase early education on the sidelines of the Group of Seven nations summit in Cornwall, England.
“It’s very important to the foundation. As a teacher at the upper levels, if they don’t have a good foundation they fall so far behind. This is amazing to see how far advanced they are,” said Mrs. Biden, who is a long-time teacher and college professor.
It was the first time Mrs. Biden and the duchess — better known as Kate Middleton, the wife of Prince William — had met in person.
The Connor Downs Academy in Hayle works with children ages 4 to 5 who’ve experienced trauma.
“We are very much about supporting the children not only in terms of academic attainment and their progress, but we’re also very, very focused on supporting children as individuals, and in supporting their positive relationships with one another, with adults with society, and also supporting their mental health,” Head of School Janice Eddy told reporters.
The school features a large outdoor area and animals, including rabbits and hens, for the children to watch over.
“Those animals are very much about supporting the children — just to be in touch with the animals to understand empathy, to learn to care for them, to nurture the animals in developing their skills for nurturing as adults,” Ms. Eddy said.
Mrs. Biden handed over a large bowl of carrots so the kids could feed a large bunny named Storm.
Earlier, the VIPs noted how silent the children were as they walked into the classroom.
“They’re scared to death,” Mrs. Biden quipped.
“It’s the quietest class I’ve ever been to,” the duchess said.
The children were very serious looking and had been prepped on whom to expect.
“Smile check,” teacher Dave Masters told them as they waited for Mrs. Biden and the duchess to arrive. “You’re doing so well and waiting so patiently.”
They started to interact, though, learning words with their visitors and showing off their artwork and books, which included a series titled “Greta and the Giants,” inspired by climate activist Greta Thunberg.
“Do you know this series?” the duchess asked Mrs. Biden.
“I know Greta, of course,” the first lady said.