By Avtk. Anandakrpa Ac.
I came to Finland in September 2004 to manage Sunrise Kindergarten in Espoo, Finland. And I remember there were only 4 children. The kindergarten was on the brink of closing down. It had only one teacher who did almost everything there. During the first 4½ years, the school had a lot of ups and down, hardships and most especially lack of public support. We did not even have our own playground for our children where other kindergartens or neighbors will gladly accept us. It was in the year 2008 that the school slowly started to get more children and got better in all aspects. When the year 2009 ended we had 22 children.
During the course of these years, we have worked to improve the standard of our education by giving enjoyable programs to the children. We have emphasized the spiritual aspect of our education – yoga and meditation and our Neohumanistic curriculum. We do a lot of creative arts, dramatic plays, rhythm, songs, rhymes, stories and many more. Yama and Niyama and Yoga are taught in various ways such as stories or creative movements, pretend play, asanas poses, etc. Our children love yoga! They love dramatic plays. And most especially they like the food, many of them usually ask me what they are going to eat when they smell the food I am cooking in the school kitchen.
Our setting has a natural calmness, warmth and love. And the people who visit us also comment about this. They can easily see and feel that because our children are happy, smiling and friendly towards them. The children happily greet the visitors and are curious to talk with them, too.
For the last couple of years, whenever the social office inspector comes and visits us, she always praises the beautiful artwork of the children. The children’s artwork decorates the entire classroom. She even commented this spring when she visited and inspected us that the children in our kindergarten are luckier that the other children from other kindergartens because they eat freshly home-made cooked vegetarian food. She said that in Finland, it is a luxury for any kindergarten to order a healthy vegetarian meal from any food catering services. Normally, the other schools have their meal catered to them and they are non-vegetarian food.
At the moment, we have 26 children with 4 staff members. The capacity of the school is about 30 – 35 children. More children are listed to come before the end of this year and beginning next year.
In March 2011, we had an Open Day that lasted for one full day. The kindergarten was open for the public. There was a beautiful exhibition of the art work of the children. About 100 people came to see our school during the course of the day. It was a nice gathering for all of us teachers, parents and children together because we could talk, joke, laugh and spend time together without rushing to go home or any appointments. It was our day together. During that day, the teachers showed to the parents individually what the children have been doing during the school year. Other professionals from the community came to see our exhibition and they also expressed their appreciation for the work we teachers and children did. We had a vegetarian buffet in one room where visitors could eat freely.
Of course, for the last 2 years now, we have our own designated playground which we share cordially with one Montessori Kindergarten. We network with other kindergartens. We also attend the quarterly meetings of all the daycares in our locality.
Our kindergarten has become by itself an international school because many parents working for global companies in Finland are enrolling their children with us. And so we have a multicultural setting. Our children are coming from different countries and speaking different mother tongues. Wow! I say to myself. Our neohumanist school is truly like a garden with garlands of many different flowers. And this is what NHE is about, uniting humanity and the world in the spirit of neohumanism. And for all of this, all I can say is, it is all by Grace only.