"I'm committed to this for the long term," Kate Middleton told First Lady Dr. Jill Biden of her work championing early education and ushering in a new generation of successful parents

By Simon Perry
June 11, 2021 11:42 AM
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The Duchess of Cambridge (right) and US First Lady Jill Biden during a visit to Connor Downs Academy
Kate Middleton and Dr. Jill Biden
| Credit: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

Kate Middleton spoke about her focus on the importance of children's early years in development during her outing with U.S. First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

The royal mom joined a roundtable discussion at an elementary school in Cornwall, England, where Kate and Dr. Biden talked about their shared goal of highlighting the importance of the first, formative years in life - and helping parents achieve that with their kids.

"I'm committed to this for the long term," said Kate, whose work in early years development is one of the key focuses of her royal life, on Friday. "I hope that our two countries can keep sharing data knowledge and best practice for years to come."

The Duchess of Cambridge (right) and US First Lady Jill Biden during a visit to Connor Downs Academy
Dr. Jill Biden and Kate Middleton
| Credit: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

After the Duchess of Cambridge and lifelong educator Dr. Biden took part in a discussion with academics, a neuroscientist and experts in childcare and education, Kate outlined some of her own thinking. After about a decade of work in the field, Kate has gradually built up her knowledge and expertise about how to improve the lives of young people and families faced with severe challenges.

"I'm really interested in how we can best prepare the next generation to become parents themselves," Kate said. "So, actually the focus isn't on parenting itself, but actually how can we give them the tools so they are having their babies and raising their children with these greater tools."

The Duchess of Cambridge participating in a roundtable discussion
Kate Middleton
| Credit: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

She said her own journey has been about "prevention."

Kate added, "I've really started looking into this work to see what we could do to help prevent some of today's toughest social challenges - addiction, poor mental health and violence in the home. I've heard time and time again from the likes of Eamon [McCrory, with whom Kate has worked closely] and parents and practitioners just how important the first five years of life are for future life outcome."

The Duchess of Cambridge (right) and US First Lady Jill Biden during a visit to Connor Downs Academy
US First Lady Jill Biden (left) and the Duchess of Cambridge talk with children during a visit to Connor Downs Academy in Hayle, West Cornwall, during the G7 summit in Cornwall
| Credit: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

"Listening to everybody, I suppose that's why this was really important - to have this place where we can all come together as parents, or neuroscientists or academics or those working with parents, to really raise the importance of the first five years," said the royal mom to Prince George, 7, Princess Charlotte, 6, and Prince Louis, 3. "Because I really do feel the best investment for our future health and happiness lies in the first five years of life. Only by working together in a holistic way are going to be able to achieve that."

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She added that it was essential that the science is translated for parents to make it "accessible and usable and making sure parents' mental health is best supported and all those around children raising the next generation today. Ultimately, my hope is that we change the way we think about early childhood, really for generations to come."

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge; US First Lady Jill Biden
Dr. Jill Biden and Kate Middleton
| Credit: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images

Moments earlier, Dr. Biden said, "As an educator myself, so much of what you're saying has certainly touched my life. I taught in a psychiatric hospital for five years.... I've seen, you know, what the children's environment, and the effects that that has."

"And I have to say, I love that you're educating dads and fathers because it's, you know, it's been so long that for the longest time," she continued. "It was always the mother, right, who was doing the caregiving.  But I think one of the positive parts of this pandemic is that now we've seen both of the parents, because they've both been home and the fathers are saying, 'Hey, this is hard work.' "

"This is such a fascinating discussion," Dr. Biden said. "I think we are moving in the right direction."

The Duchess of Cambridge (right) and US First Lady Jill Biden during a visit to Connor Downs Academy
Kate Middleton and Dr. Jill Biden
| Credit: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

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During their visit to the school, Kate and Dr. Biden toured a classroom, where they chatted with children and teachers, and joined the youngsters outside to feed rabbits.