Why inclusivity matters: Prague preschool celebrates 25 years of helping children 'belong'

Global Preschool was founded by an Indian-Icelandic couple in 1996. It continues to instill students with confidence, curiosity, and respect for others.

Marcus Bradshaw

Written by Marcus Bradshaw
Published on 28.05.2021 11:27 (updated on 30.05.2021)

Founded in 1996 by an Indian-Icelandic couple, Global Preschool, an international preschool with a Montessori-based program, still retains the ethos of its founders: a child-centered education focused on the Nordic principle of learning through play and a grounding in the Eastern ethics of humility and respect for all.

That vision has been carried on by current director Alana Kamula. Now housed in three beautiful villas in Prague 6 the preschool is currently open to children ages six months to six years. It remains steadfast in its mission of offering a safe educational space that respects language, culture, and diversity.

"We believe that the first step of your child's education is the most important," says Kamula, who adds that the school's small size is essential for creating a sense of what she calls "belongingness."

Global Preschool's
Global Preschool's "Global Concepts Culture Day" in 2020 (photo: Leah Takata).

Global Preschool was also a pioneer in employing an in-house play therapist as well as making outdoor elements a key part of the learning experience. It maintains a strong sense of respect for its students' cultural identity through various events and activities.

As the school celebrates its 25th anniversary in the Czech capital some of its past and present students, as well as their parents, shared their memories of Global Preschool and how it continues to have an impact on their lives.

Each child’s needs are wholly unique

Global Preschool parent Emilia Moise recalls that each child and each family is treated individually at Global Preschool. Her son has motricity issues, and she remembers how she sat together with the school and developed an educational plan to accommodate his needs.

The school selected and hired an assistant teacher to spend time with her son, and all of the teachers were made aware of his condition, allowing them to adapt so as to reduce disruption to his school activities.

“Both of my kids, but particularly my son, loved being at Global,” says Moise, who still remembers the happiness and willingness of the kids as they got ready for school in the morning.

A welcoming community for international families

Kamula says the Global Preschool's small number of students promotes an intimate and personalized learning environment, coupled with a cohesive vision among the staff. Key to the success of the preschool is a sense of unity, built around the shared approach of staff and parents. "Our preschool runs more like a community than a corporation," she says.

Global Preschool Welcome Picnic 2019
Global Preschool Welcome Picnic 2019 (photo: Leah Takata).

That strong sense of community is the enduring memory of Johanna van der Velden, whose daughter was a past pupil of the school.

Global Preschool is so much more than just a school, it’s a true community which is very supportive to new families settling down in Prague from day one,” she says. “The community is very open to new parents, and it has been very easy for us to make friends.”

Van der Velden describes the school as a very loving and caring environment to learn in, and she fondly remembers how her daughter was exposed to an abundance of different activities - people, materials and learning settings, both indoors and outdoors.

She recalls how her daughter was still very young when she joined the school, but that she was encouraged to leave her comfort zone and she was made feel proud of her achievements.

Global Concepts kids in classroom
Global Concepts kids in classroom (photo: Leah Takata).

Setting up skills for life

The amount of time that children spend outdoors is an important aspect of the curriculum that fosters a love of nature and outdoor activity central not only to Scandinavian cultures but Czech ones as well. "Children love the nature activities that take place in our outdoor classroom, where they learn how to be one with nature," says Kamula.

Past pupil, Olivia Tennant, has her own fond memories of the preschool's magical garden. “My most clear memory is flying on the swing, running around with friends, and sledding in the winter,” she says.

She says that her time at Global Preschool helped her to make friends and gain a sense of independence. The preschool helped her find activities that she is passionate about and that she still enjoys to this day.

Global Concepts Sports Day 2020
Global Concepts Sports Day 2020 (photo: Leah Takata).

"I started learning piano at Global and I’m still learning with the same teacher!” says Tennant.

The school also benefits from unlimited access to the beautiful pony garden in Prague's Nebušice established by long-term staff member Jana Pešková. Pešková helps the children take care of the animals, allowing them to appreciate and feel confident around ponies.

The children have the option of joining a weekly pony club, as well as a host of other regular activities offered each day. Other activities on offer include swimming, skiing, ceramics, dance, cooking, gardening, gymnastics, and yoga.

Global Concepts Pony garden fun
Global Concepts Pony garden fun (photo: Leah Takata).

'Our son is now trilingual': the benefit of an English-speaking education

The English language is also an important element of the early childhood experience offered by Global. Vladka Bordier’s son currently attends the preschool, and she remarks on how proficient her son’s English has become.

“He has become practically trilingual. We are a Czech-French family, and these days English seems to be his first language, which has exceeded our expectations,” says Bordier.

She attributes his excellent English to his contentment at Global: “He is always perfectly happy there. We mostly have trouble getting him from school, rather than the other way around!”

Global Preschool pottery class
Global Preschool pottery class (photo: Leah Takata).

A committed staff with a global perspective

Global Preschool benefits from a team of experienced staff who bring a winning mixture of highly trained expertise, lots of love, and genuine care for their charges, to the learning environment.

“Global has a great Montessori-inspired early learning program that incorporates the key elements for preschool learning within a natural, safe, and fun environment,” says Vanessa Gendron, a play therapist who has been cooperating with Global Preschool for the last twenty years.

“Global offers a warm and caring preschool, where we get to know each child and family well while respecting their language, culture, and diversity.”

Global Preschool kids having fun outisde
Global Preschool kids having fun outisde (photo: Leah Takata).

The diverse nature of the school is one of the most enjoyable aspects of her job, says teacher Gabriela Gonzalez, who takes pleasure in learning about different customs and cultures, along with the children.

I love the way that different customs are shared and taught, and I love the multicultural atmosphere of the preschool”, she says.

Perhaps the greatest testament to the success of Global Preschool is the esteem that parents and past pupils alike hold for it. “It’s always a pleasure to go back and talk with the teachers, watch the students, and see the school”, says Emilia Moise. “It always brings back happy memories.”

This article was written in cooperation with the Global Preschool. Currently, enrollment for the next academic year (for ages 3-6) is already at full capacity at all locations with a waiting list. However, those parents who are interested in enrolling younger children can still enroll now though spots are rapidly filling up. Read more about our partner content policies here.

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