At the confluence of two rivers, Danube and Sava, stands a beautiful white city (Belgrade). And at the confluence of its two streets – a green kindergarten, Povratak prirodi. Crossed streets (Borisavljevića and Kumodraška street) made an ideal quite and peaceful spot in the center of the city. Right in that spot, lies The Great Palace of Voždovac.
Your first associations when you hear the word ’Palace’? Beauty, sophistication, luxurious interior. Add to that some mud, a garden on the 3rd floor, traces of children’s presence on the walls, art installations made of recycled materials, a tarantula, a snake, crickets, a gecko and you will unfold the mosaic of our house. From both outside and inside, the Palace is a living museum where new exhibitions constantly take place. Exhibits are made by children and teachers, inspired by continuous research and growth.
How the life in The Palace looks like?
As soon as the doors are opened and early birds come to the kindergarten, the Palace starts to pulsate in the rhythm of its own music. Instead of the red carpet, we are welcomed by artistically painted stairs, which perfectly anticipate the art explosion that follows when you enter the house! In the Palace children’s art projects shine from the walls, corners, ceiling. Every trace of children’s creativity becomes the interior and the spirit of our home and testifies to the child’s efforts, commitment, emotionality, responsibility, pride.
Besides the children’s art works, the walls are covered with book shelves and toys – constructors, puzzles, cubes etc. There you can easily find a box, which one morning launches you to the Universe, and the next one becomes a research station at the North Pole. Other commercial toys can be found in our house only on Mondays, when children bring their own toys to the kindergarten, or under the pillow of our youngest friends during the adaptation period.
Three story house is spacious and bright. Rooms often change their outfit and adapt to activities and programs. The central part of each room has spacious place from where all the activities start – from the circle, formed by children. In the circle, we are all equal, connected, well heard and seen, which are the basics for work and harmony in our house.
The classrooms, as well as walls, often change their outfit and adapt to activities and programs. We take care that the furniture does not preoccupy the space. We need a spacious center of the room, from where all the activities and workshops start – from the circle, formed by children. In the circle, we are all equal, connected, we are well heard and seen, which are the basic preconditions for work and coexistence in our home. The classrooms do not have a pre-defined purpose, but are adapted to the nature of the certain activity.
A bit different laws exist in the classrooms for experimenting and planting – in the laboratory and the winter garden. There is no room for free play, and children enter these spaces with a great attention, motivation and responsibility. In these classrooms, the activities are organized in order to foster the spirit of research. Children have the opportunity to learn through practice and experiments, which is essential for acquiring applied knowledge. Besides scientific research, children learn important lessons about ecology. They also empower patience and responsibility towards work, which is an important step in preparing for school.
Besides the unique enterior, plants and equipment, it’s our pets that make winter garden special: agama, geckoes, snake, tarantula. Living together with animals, children develop a sense of responsibility – they regularly check if the animals have fresh food and water, good temperature conditions, proper hygiene in their houses and terrariums. Also, they learn to be cautious and to respect nature. The favourite part is when animals eat salad or insect from our own production! At the same time, children have the opportunity to watch the life processes of different species – they observe reptiles skin shedding, winter sleep, life process of one flower, the life cycle of an insect etc. This way, children practice fine and gross motor skills , learn the laws of causality, observe processes in nature, become ecologically aware . Also, they learn to coexistence with animals and plants in the very heart of the city. These are important lessons about empathy, as well as about ecology and sustainable development.
Next to the rooms where we study, grow, play, rest, the house has a kitchen which always smells like home. Not rarely, you can meet kids cooking togehter with a chef, preparing snacks for friends.
The picturesque interior of the Palace is fully completed with its adventurous exterior: a beautiful yard. This classroom without walls offers a handful of activities on a daily basis. Whether children play, water the grass with a help of a ’tiger fountain’, make lunch or towers in the sand, observe the movement of ants, feed birds, or read the stories in the summer house, they gain applicable knowledge and deeply root it into their memory.
The Great Palace of Voždovac is specially organized and equipped in order to follow the upbringing process, in accordance with the educational philosophy of Povratak prirodi. By actively participating in a program based on the creativity and green principles, children age 2 to 6 years are preparing to be independent and responsible persons, in accordance with their age and development capacities.