Kate Middleton makes surprise charity appearance in chic polka dot look

Pretty in polka dots! 

The Duchess of Cambridge stepped out on Thursday morning for a surprise visit to Sunshine House Children and Young People’s Health and Development Centre in London as part of her ongoing dedication to the Early Years sector. Her outing included meeting with the Southwark Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) team, which serves as a voluntary home for first-time parents under the age of 24. 

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Kate Middleton steps out for surprise charity event
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Kate Middleton steps out for surprise charity event
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: To further her research and engagement with the Early Years sector, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge visits Sunshine House Children and Young Peopleâs Health and Development Centre to meet with the Southwark Family Nurse Partnership team and highlight the valuable work that they do on September 19, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Vogler - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge carries a posy as she leaves after her visit to the Sunshine House Children and Young People's Health and Development Centre to meet with the Southwark Family Nurse Partnership team and highlight their valuable work, in Peckham, south London on September 19, 2019. (Photo by Ian Vogler / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read IAN VOGLER/AFP/Getty Images)
Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge chats during her visit to the Sunshine House Children and Young People's Health and Development Centre to meet with the Southwark Family Nurse Partnership team and highlight their valuable work, in Peckham, south London on September 19, 2019. (Photo by Ian Vogler / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read IAN VOGLER/AFP/Getty Images)
Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge gestures during her visit to the Sunshine House Children and Young People's Health and Development Centre to meet with the Southwark Family Nurse Partnership team and highlight their valuable work, in Peckham, south London on September 19, 2019. (Photo by Ian Vogler / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read IAN VOGLER/AFP/Getty Images)
Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge carries a posy as she leaves after her visit to the Sunshine House Children and Young People's Health and Development Centre to meet with the Southwark Family Nurse Partnership team and highlight their valuable work, in Peckham, south London on September 19, 2019. (Photo by Ian Vogler / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read IAN VOGLER/AFP/Getty Images)
Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge gestures during her visit to the Sunshine House Children and Young People's Health and Development Centre to meet with the Southwark Family Nurse Partnership team and highlight their valuable work, in Peckham, south London on September 19, 2019. (Photo by Ian Vogler / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read IAN VOGLER/AFP/Getty Images)
Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge gestures during her visit to the Sunshine House Children and Young People's Health and Development Centre to meet with the Southwark Family Nurse Partnership team and highlight their valuable work, in Peckham, south London on September 19, 2019. (Photo by Ian Vogler / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read IAN VOGLER/AFP/Getty Images)
Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge gestures during her visit to the Sunshine House Children and Young People's Health and Development Centre to meet with the Southwark Family Nurse Partnership team and highlight their valuable work, in Peckham, south London on September 19, 2019. (Photo by Ian Vogler / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read IAN VOGLER/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: To further her research and engagement with the Early Years sector, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge visits Sunshine House Children and Young Peopleâs Health and Development Centre to meet with the Southwark Family Nurse Partnership team and highlight the valuable work that they do on September 19, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Vogler - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge gestures during her visit to the Sunshine House Children and Young People's Health and Development Centre to meet with the Southwark Family Nurse Partnership team and highlight their valuable work, in Peckham, south London on September 19, 2019. (Photo by Ian Vogler / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read IAN VOGLER/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: To further her research and engagement with the Early Years sector, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge visits Sunshine House Children and Young Peopleâs Health and Development Centre to meet with the Southwark Family Nurse Partnership team and highlight the valuable work that they do on September 19, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Vogler - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
The Duchess of Cambridge meets the Southwark Family Nurse Partnership team during a visit to Sunshine House Children and Young People's Health and Development Centre in Camberwell, south London.
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As part of the program, parents are paired with a specially-trained nurse who assists the family beginning in the early stages of pregnancy until the child turns two. The program is part of Evelina London Children's Hospital, which the duchess became a patron of in December 2018. 

There, Kate spoke to nurses and parents who have been impacted by the organization's work and relayed much of her experience as a mother to George, Charlotte and Louis. 

“She said children grow up so quickly and she can’t believe that George is six already,” said Chloe Koroma who spoke to the duchess. 

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What Kate Middleton is like as a mother
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What Kate Middleton is like as a mother

Kate is "adamant" about raising her kids her way

Royal protocol may go out the window when it comes to how Kate Middleton raises her kids -- and she's not afraid to show it. According to reports, the royal is adamant about "keeping stuffy ­royal protocol far from their apartment at Kensington Palace."

Said an insider according to RadarOnline: “It would absolutely horrify Elizabeth. But Kate insists the kids should be allowed to be normal children. Never in royal history have the children in direct line to the throne been raised in such a modern way.” 

One of the biggest ways this has come through is in the decision to send George, and now Charlotte, to school at Thomas's Battersea in South London. The couple chose to forgo the elite and traditional "Eton-style feeder" the family has attended in the past. Located in an up-and-coming area of London, the school seeks to invoke social responsibility and kindness as its core values, while promoting classes like dance and foreign language.

She knows the importance of a good hug

“Hugs are very important. I keep saying that to my children," she explained during a visit to an early childhood center. Later, it was revealed that the duchess' favorite thing is hugs from her kids. 

While visiting the Henry Fawcett Children's Centre in March, Kate was asked about the best thing as a parent.

She "told us that for her it was getting hugs from her kids," explained royal correspondent Rebecca English. The royal has spoken about how important it is for children to have a safe place to express these emotions, and how it's ok to reach out for help or even a hug. 

She aims to instill values like kindness and respect in George, Charlotte and Louis

“My parents taught me about the importance of qualities like kindness, respect, and honesty, and I realize how central values like these have been to me throughout my life,” Kate said during a visit in 2017, according to People

The mom continued: "That is why William and I want to teach our little children, George and Charlotte just how important these things are as they grow up. In my view it is just as important as excelling at maths or sport.”

She isn't afraid to get down and dirty -- including going on bug hunts

The duchess has long been vocal about how nature and the outdoors can benefit early childhood development. And whether she's climbing trees, making s'mores or building a fortress, the royal is willing to get on her hands and knees to show how important nature is to her. 

“I really feel that nature and being interactive outdoors has huge benefits on our physical and mental wellbeing, particularly for young children," the royal said at the launch of her "Back to Nature" garden at the Chelsea Flower Show in May. "I really hope that this woodland that we have created really inspires families, kids and communities to get outside, enjoy nature and the outdoors, and spend quality time together."

Shots of the family visiting Kate's garden show adventurous and barefoot George and Charlotte. "The children played last night in a way I hadn’t imagined," the 37-year-old royal told reporters. "They were throwing stones. I hadn’t actually thought that that was what they would be doing. They kicked their shoes off, and wanted to paddle in the stream… using it in a way that I hadn’t anticipated."

One of the royal's favorite activities with George and Charlotte? Bug hunting. The royal revealed last year that she could spend "hours" going on spider hunts with her two eldest children. 

The family likes to spend a lot of time outside, really...

Whether it's through skiing, bug hunting, going on hikes or playing soccer (uh, football), the Cambridges try to spend as much time outside as possible. 

Most recently, the Duchess of Cambridge was spotted taking Prince Louis for a walk along Round Pond in Kensington Palace to feed the ducks. George and Charlotte are frequently spotted riding their bikes in the palace gardens, as well. 

The duchess, who grew up an athlete, has also talked about the importance of sports and has spent much of her public work to organizations dedicated to play. 

"I love cheering on teams and athletes that I am passionate about. I love the physical challenge sport presents and the mental strength it gives us all. And I love the way it so often brings people together to work as part of a team," she said in 2016

...and avoid screentime 

While Prince William has revealed that Charlotte loves Peppa Pig and George enjoys Fireman Sam, a source indicates that the Cambridges truly strive to stick to an "unplugged" lifestyle -- so much so that iPads are banned at the Cambridge home. 

“They’re very much seen as Mummy and Daddy’s toys, not for children,” said a source to US Magazine. “As two people who grew up without gadgets for entertainment themselves, William and Kate are firm believers in toys, outdoor play and encouraging an active imagination.” 

One of those ways the couple keeps their kids entertained is through books. A favorite read in the Cambridge household? "The Gruffalo" by Julia Donaldson.

She's very protective of her children 

When it comes to George, Charlotte and Louis, privacy is a very big concern of hers. When the couple relocated to Kensington Palace from Norfolk in 2016, the royals had a row of trees planted to create a dense wall near the couple's apartment. They've also had a few statements issued as a warning to paparazzi. 

Most recently, the couple planted a 950-foot hedge at Kensington Palace to increase security.

While the family can occasionally be spotted on the palace grounds by tourists, or coming to and from the helicopter pad,  the general rule of thumb is that the family is allowed to be photographed at official events, but not at their home (as it should be!) 

She encourages her children to be vocal about their feelings 

“We hope to encourage George and Charlotte to speak about their feelings, and to give them the tools and sensitivity to be supportive peers to their friends as they get older," she wrote in a blog post for HuffPost UK in 2017.

The royal continued, "We know there is no shame in a young child struggling with their emotions or suffering from a mental illness.”

She's a fixture on the carpool scene

The duchess (seen here on the way to Christmas lunch at Buckingham Palace) has chauffers and royal nannies at her disposal. However, Kate and Will choose to do school dropoff themselves.

“Either William or Kate do drop off, and they are always very friendly,” said one fellow parent at Thomas's Battersea in South London.

Joked another: "No one really gives Kate a second glance when she does the school drop-off. We have a Victoria's Secret model doing the school run, too, and the dads are far more interested in her!" 

The royal was even spotted dropping off her son George just one day after giving birth to Prince Louis.

She loves hand-me-downs

See those blue shoes George is wearing? Eagle-eyed royak viewers noticed Charlotte wearing the same pair in the photos released for her fourth birthday, which were captured by her mother. That's not the only time the Cambridge children recycled their clothing.

Right after Prince Louis was born, the royal family released photos of Charlotte craddling her newborn brother -- the then 2-year-old was spotted wearing Prince George's old sweater.  And new photos of Prince Louis taken at the Chelsea Flower Show show the one-year-old tot wearing his older brother's shorts. 

Given Kate's affinity for affordable designer getups, these hand-me-downs come as no surprise. The duchess is known to repeat many of her most regal looks, while also prioritizing stores like Zara for a good deal. Even her favorite sneakers come at a steal (shop them here!). 

Kate and Will employ "active listening," even though the queen may disapprove 

No matter how high her heels are or however tight her dress, Kate interacts with her children in the same way: by crouching down to their levels in a technique called active listening. 

"Active listening is one of the most important ways you can send the message, ‘You’re important to me.’ Get down on the child’s level, lean in and make eye contact,” said child development expert Gill Connell, according to People. The late Princess Diana was also known to take on such a technique, although the queen seemingly disapproves. In 2016, Prince William was reportedly reprimanded by the queen when talking to Prince George during the Trooping the Colour ceremony in 2016. 

Kate and the kids love to cook pizza and "cheesy pasta" together and bake

Kate understands the power that cooking can have and how it can strenghten relationships in a fun and easy way. In a visit to Lavender Primary School this past winter, the royal revealed that George and Charlotte especially love to make cheesy pasta together. 

Another family favrotie? Homemade pizza. “I think they’re some of the best things to make, pizzas at home, she said according to Us Weekly. “It’s such fun. You can choose what you can put on them — all the different toppings.”

As far as baking goes, it can frequently turn the kitchen into chaos. "When I try to do this with George at home, chocolate and the golden syrup goes everywhere. George makes so much mess. It’s chaos," Kate said in 2016 about making chocolate crispy cakes. 

She understands that not all families have the support she has

“Personally, becoming a mother has been such a rewarding and wonderful experience. However, at times it has also been a huge challenge. Even for me, who has support at home that most mothers do not,” Kate explained. 

The mother-of-three has been particularly vocal about empowering mothers through her various mental health initiatives and highlighted the need for open and honest conversations about these obstacles. In 2017, she championed "Heads Together," a coalition with eight different partners to raise awareness and provide vital help for those in need. Her work extends far beyond that, however. She's been an advocate of this work for many years: Her creation of a steering group on the benefits of early intervention in childhood will provide support for years to come.

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The mom of three, who opted for an Equipment polka dot blouse (on sale for $140!) and black trousers for the unannounced engagement, has dedicated many of her royal initiatives to children's issues, especially early childhood development and mental health. 

"It is our duty, as parents and as teachers, to give all children the space to build their emotional strength and provide a strong foundation for their future," the duchess has explained about her work.

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Kate Middleton wears floral dress for Back to Nature garden
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Kate Middleton wears floral dress for Back to Nature garden
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Mary Berry attend the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Steve Parsons - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Steve Parsons - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge rides on a tractor and trailer with Mary Berry, during a visit to the 'Back To Nature' Festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Steve Parsons - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge makes a speech during a visit to the 'Back To Nature' Festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Steve Parsons - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Steve Parsons - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends the 'Back To Nature' Festival at RHS Garden Wisley, in Woking, Surrey on September 10, 2019. (Photo by Steve Parsons / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read STEVE PARSONS/AFP/Getty Images)
Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends the 'Back To Nature' Festival at RHS Garden Wisley, in Woking, Surrey on September 10, 2019. (Photo by Steve Parsons / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read STEVE PARSONS/AFP/Getty Images)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge meets a young child as she attends the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Mary Berry attend the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends the 'Back To Nature' Festival at RHS Garden Wisley, in Woking, Surrey on September 10, 2019. (Photo by Steve Parsons / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read STEVE PARSONS/AFP/Getty Images)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Mary Berry (R) attend the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Mary Berry (R) attend the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Mary Berry (R) attend the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Mary Berry (R) and children attend the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Mary Berry (R) and children attend the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Mary Berry attend the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Mary Berry attend the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Mary Berry (L) attend the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
WOKING, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Mary Berry (R) attend the "Back to Nature" festival at RHS Garden Wisley on September 10, 2019 in Woking, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends the 'Back To Nature' Festival at RHS Garden Wisley, in Woking, Surrey on September 10, 2019. (Photo by Steve Parsons / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read STEVE PARSONS/AFP/Getty Images)
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