General human interest
REEUWIJK – Mothers Chantal Ravestein and Jolien de Vrind struggled with choosing the right school for their children and joined forces; that’s how Bloom was born. From August 2022, Bloei started as a new school in Reeuwijk. A private school with a clear vision: “We want children to be able to grow in their own freedom”.
by Esther Koopman
From the heart
The atmosphere in the small school building is warm; the six children at school are baking cookies for the upcoming Christmas dinner, making a ship out of wooden blocks or being read to. When Chantal and Jolien enter the room, they hug and say hello. Everyone is wearing slippers, the lights in the Christmas tree are cozy, there is a homely atmosphere.
Both mothers speak passionately about their initiative: “It is our life’s mission to build a school for the new generation without the straitjacket we encountered in regular education. There are plenty of children who thrive on this type of education. We offer space, a tailored plan and individual coaching. Neither of us have a teaching background, but it really comes from our hearts.”
Where Chantal and Jolien lack experience in the educational world, there are two trained teachers who teach at the school. Each day one of them is present together with a volunteer. Bloom is open from Monday to Thursday. There is a global division of the day; each morning the group starts in the circle, followed by an optional block. In this block, the children have the opportunity to work with goals of their own choosing within a framework: “We ask the students what they want. Children learn best when they want to learn and are intrinsically motivated. For the older children, who have already attended regular primary schools for a number of years, it takes some getting used to. We work towards it in phases and gradually release them.”
Supervisor Inge agrees with the latter: “The biggest challenge lies in the education of the older children. They have to learn to ‘untrain’, and it is up to us as tutors to stimulate their curiosity so that they can learn.”
There is room for learning in practice; for cake baking you need to be able to weigh and to write the menu for Christmas dinner you need to be able to write and spell correctly. The group also sets out to ‘learn in life’: actually buy products and pay with money, so that calculation targets are discussed, or learn from and in nature.
The supervisors Inge and Annemarie put together thematic training based on the core objectives. There is a lot of consultation between the teachers and the initiators. Chairman Jolien points out that the vision is always central: “We meet and evaluate a lot, so we work together towards the education we want to achieve based on our vision; increasingly letting go of the usual educational structure and making the child the owner of his development. This is a learning process for the children, but also for the tutors.”
The Norwegian Education Authority recently recognized Bloom as a school. With six students, Bloei is still in its infancy. The wish is for the group to be expanded to around 40 students, so that there can be a division between programs for junior and junior years. This is not possible in the current building. The initiators are looking for another location for their school: “We are looking for a place with lots of space inside and a large area outside, with lots of greenery. We hope for a farmer who has a piece of land or a barn left over for a place where we can flourish and build a mini-community where every link is important.”
Every stage, because both children and parents are involved in teaching at school. Education where children grow through life.
Bloom is organizing an open information evening for those interested on Thursday 26 January at 20:00. You can register via email@example.com.