TOPAZ Issue 4 / 2002
Introducing Feminenza
The Message of Water
Film Review: A Beautiful Mind
The Human Template
Dealing with Children
Music through time
Psychology - From a Template perspective
Retirement home project
Waunifor, The Template Foundation Rural Retreat
Effective Colours

Dealing with children

" which the most important thing is that we try to feel what it is like in the world of a child"

A child's perception of life can be radically different to ours. The challenge for any parent is to try to understand the world as they see it and to provide for them the best of our experience, care and knowledge that will help them in their own development as lives. This is the view of Thea Kreeft (40) and Jeroen Brons (37), both parents with a shared passionate interest in child care and education. During the last few years they have dedicated almost all of their free time to working with other parents and teachers in the study of the natural growth patterns of children and developing educational programmes that support the growth and uniqueness of young lives.

Over the last two years they have established the Matrijs Foundation ("matrijs" is Dutch for "matrix"), which is organising events for children, mainly focusing on the ages 0 - 5 yrs, and they intend to start their first day-care centre later this year. During a recent interview, Thea and Jeroen spoke about their work with Matrijs and their vision of the future for the children.

Knowledge and Qualities

Thea Kreeft Thea: "We have found that the natural process of learning invites an accompanying development of inner qualities. This development will help children to feel motivated about their own lives and their participation in society.

It is easy to gather knowledge in our modern times of the internet and global communication. It is, however, more challenging to acquire and develop personal qualities. Knowledge without qualities is like the difference between a house and a home. The enormous emphasis on acquiring knowledge today makes a lot of young people feel insecure as it focuses the child on results, rather than on how the results were achieved.

Did the child make an effort in the journey?
Did they try something new?
Do the results help the child discover more about its possibilities?
Did they have fun and enjoyment in the process?

Learning is not something you do with your head only, but with all your resources.

I asked Thea and Jeroen to tell me more about their experience in helping a child grow inner qualities.

Thea: "We stimulate essential qualities such as self confidence and self respect by treating the children with respect and by encouraging them in what they try to do. It is important to confirm specific and unique aspects of what a child does. If a child shows you a drawing you might say, "oh that is beautiful", but the child would be more encouraged if you actually took the time to study the drawing and say something about the quality of the colours or the precise forms. In this way the child will be more motivated to explore drawing further.

Development of values needs to begin at an early age with value for the body and all that it can do. We encourage the children to express value by how they look after themselves, how they brush their teeth, take a nap when tired and the importance of eating healthily to give the body the right nourishment. A child will be more inclined to learn later about something if they have developed a value for what they are learning about. We may, as an example, ask the children to communicate for fifteen minutes using only gestures and body language. After the exercise the children feel a value for the fact of being able to speak and to use language!"

Jeroen: "Qualities become important at different ages of a child's development. A child of two years old can hardly appreciate the concept of "patience", whilst a child of five clearly needs to discover it. One day my five-year-old daughter was waiting for a friend to visit her and as she was so much looking forward to the visit she kept asking me every five minutes when her friend would arrive. This is a good moment to introduce patience, by giving examples from nature. If you plant a tulip bulb in October the flower will only appear in spring, so in between time look after the young plant and wait."

Golden Education Template

An important source of inspiration for Matrijs is the Golden Education Template in Israel, where a group of parents and teachers have begun to actualise their vision of child care and education with the establishment of a day care centre and primary school. This new model for education has been running for five years and the results are remarkable. The children are enthusiastic to explore, they feel motivated about their lives and find school a valuable and good place to be. The participants of Matrijs go regularly to Israel for exchange, training and seminars. At a later stage they plan to establish a primary school in Netherlands based on the principles of the Golden Education Template.

A fundamental pillar in Matrijs' philosophy is to encourage each child to stay open towards various fields of opportunities and discovery in life. Another is to stimulate the specific talents and the unique inclination of each child. The teachers and parents to undergo a special training to be able to put these concepts into practice.

Jeroen: "To encourage openness we try to be as versatile as possible. You can keep "channels" open in a child by introducing them early on to subjects that they will later learn more about. For example you can tell a child of four about the concept of Pi, not because they will understand it, but to help them build a bridge towards the time when they will be introduced to mathematics. Or you can speak simple sentences in foreign languages. Children of three to four have an outstanding absorption rate and they will store the subject for later usage. We often invite different people to come to meet the children, to introduce them to their specific fields of interest and experience. One day it might be music, another day gardening and recently we organised an afternoon around storytelling. There is no quicker way to appreciate and learn about something than by being with people inspired and passionate about what they do."

Thea: "Encouraging the child is crucial. In simple terms we believe that each child must feel that what he or she wants to do can be achieved. Real and effective encouragement requires the ability to observe and understand the uniqueness within each child"

Parents as leaders

Out from their years of research and experience, Matrijs provides workshops for parents, in which they seek to stimulate awareness and to encourage open discussion around all areas of upbringing and education. The workshops have an informal character, with time for forums and exchange. The various workshops take place under the heading "Parents as Leaders".

Jeroen: "Guiding children begins by understanding and learning about yourself. "How free am I and how do I encourage myself?" "Do I lose interest if somebody starts talking mathematics and was this because I did not understand the subject at school?" I stopped singing after I left primary school because I got the idea I was not very good at it. When I later realised how much I enjoyed singing I started to take it up again and worked through the resistance I had because of my self-view. You do not have to be Frank Sinatra to love and take pleasure in singing."

Thea: "We need, as adults, to be prepared to look at ourselves. Much of what grows in our children is a reflection of what we, as parents, encourage and plant in them in the first place. To raise a child effectively often demands that we need to have a mind to our own personal development.

We can easily tend to forget that what is "normal" and reasonable for us is not necessarily so for the child. It is not enough to simply demand that the child behaves or acts a certain way, without providing understanding, education and reasoning. It is far more effective to show a child why you do not want them to come into the house with muddy boots on, by helping them to understand the value of having a clean home. It is very important that children learn reasons, not simply receive dictums. Reasons lead to values and to the child finding their own reasons inside what they do. It is extremely important to provide the children with the basic facts and values that will help them to think for themselves, form their own views and become responsible people."

Stichting Matrijs

Jeroen: "I believe that each human is born with unlimited possibilities and a range of unique talents. The question is how to recognise these talents and release them into actuality. With the work of Matrijs we want to contribute to a positive change in the world of tomorrow."

Thea: "Naturally, each parent is in the end "the expert" on his or her child. There is no need to be perfect. Bringing up and guiding children is an enormous job and some things we do intuitively well and in other aspects we can grow. Most important is that we try to feel what it is like for the children in this increasingly complex world. Upbringing and learning can be much better, more exiting, human, enjoyable and I believe that we have found something with Matrijs that can be very helpful to both small and big people in the future."

The founders of Matrijs are all members of the Template Stichting, Holland. If you want to contact Matrijs, please visit the web site

Interview by Lotten Kärre

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