An impromptu dance lesson is underway outside of Mariam Shioshvili’s third-grade classroom. Down the hallway, a group of children are huddled around a chalkboard while their classmates thumb through a handmade encyclopedia of animal facts.
The music changes, and the children regroup. Some run outside to play, others move to one of a dozen activities set up in the hallway: reams of paper for free drawing, books, handmade dolls, couches to relax on.
Breaks between classes at Public School #4 in Sagarejo, Georgia have undergone a major transformation in the months since school principal Neli Balakhashvili returned from a training in Estonia.
Neli was struck by how the schools she visited in Estonia used free time between classes: the children had a break but their minds stayed engaged. Music on the loudspeakers, free drawing space on the walls, safe places to sit down with friends.