Duchess Kate and Jill Biden are both passionate about the importance of ensuring children have a good start early in life, and they've joined forces to write a new opinion piece arguing why that needs to be made a priority in the years to come.
Writing for CNN, the Duchess of Cambridge and U.S. First Lady, who stepped out together to visit a school in Cornwall together on June 11, said education should be seen as one of "the defining, strategic issues of our time" and that countries must make some changes in how they support children younger than five years old and their parents.
"We both believe that part of this vision for [a stronger] future must include a fundamental shift in how our countries approach the earliest years of life," the duo wrote.
"If we care about how children perform at school, how they succeed in their careers when they are older and about their lifelong mental and physical health, then we have to care about how we are nurturing their brains, their experiences and relationships in the early years before school."
By shifting focus onto "things that would make the biggest difference for children" and their parents, teachers and carers, they argued, "the prospects of an entire generation" could be "transformed."
Kate, who has made early childhood work a priority in her royal work, and Jill, who has a doctorate in education, said they want to continue to work together to "elevate the importance of early care and learning for children" and are encouraging governments to support "new, international research projects" and look to "the most successful, innovative examples of early years interventions" to come up with best practices that can make significant differences in children's lives. They wrote that this was particularly important as the world continues to recover from COVID-19.
"As we look to a post-pandemic future, there are few issues more worthy of our attention than the transformative power of early childhood care and education for our communities and nations," they added. "We look forward to championing this work in the years to come.
Last year, Kate launched a landmark survey called "5 Big Questions on the Under 5's," which aimed to discover some of the major issues affecting parents and children younger than five years of age. It was the largest study ever completed in the United Kingdom on early years, and it also explored how the coronavirus pandemic has affected parents and carers of those younger than five years of age.
The results came out last November, and highlighted the importance of greater support that is needed for parents and their kids during this age period. One major insight: 90 per cent of people see parental mental health and well-being as critical to a child's development, but parents and carers said they did very little to prioritize themselves. Just 10 per cent of parents mentioned taking time to look after their own mental well-being when asked about how they had prepared for the arrival of their baby.
The study also indicates more than a third of all parents (37 per cent) expect the coronavirus pandemic to have a negative impact on their long-term mental well-being.
Jill worked as a substitute teacher and high school English teacher in the 1970s, and then moved into teaching history to students with disabilities in the 1980s after taking time off from work to raise her and U.S. President Joe Biden's children. She returned to teaching high school in the 1990s, eventually moved into instructing at a community college and received her Doctor of Education degree in 2007. Her doctorate thesis was about how to meet students' needs in a community college environment.
Jill and Joe are in the U.K. this weekend for the G7 Summit, which is taking place in Cornwall. They met with Kate, Prince William, Prince Charles, Duchess Camilla and the Queen for a drinks reception in Cornwall on the evening of June 11 after Kate and Jill's school visit. The U.S. first couple will visit Her Majesty at Windsor Castle on June 13 for tea before Joe heads to the NATO summit in Brussels on June 14, then meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva two days later.
Jill and Kate have lots in common and share research and work interests, so we can't wait to see what they do together! No doubt they have the power to make a huge difference the lives of many little ones and their parents!