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What IS Montessori?

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Montessori’s a word we’ve heard thrown round loads when it comes to the kiddo’s education, but what IS it? Helen from Ladybird Nursery answers our questions.

Montessori is a system of education for young children that seeks to develop natural interests and activities rather than use formal teaching methods.

The name Montessori comes from the name of the founder ‘Maria Montessori’, she was an Italian physician, educator, and innovator, acclaimed for her educational method that builds on the way children naturally learn. She opened the first Montessori School in Rome on January 6th 1907. Subsequently she travelled the world and wrote extensively about her approach to education attracting many. There are now more than 22000 Montessori schools in at least 110 countries worldwide.

How does a Montessori nursery differ to other nurseries?

Montessori Nurseries differ from other Nurseries predominantly through the use of the Montessori materials. The classroom is a structured, prepared environment divided into areas of Practical Life, Sensorial, Maths, Language and Cultural. The children are taught to be independent and to choose activities from the shelves, work with an activity and when they are finished they put it back where they found it. This is the ‘Montessori Work Cycle’. Initially the teacher presents the activity to the child and they then use the equipment daily and repeat through using a control of error.

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We’ve heard that the Montessori method doesn’t allow for creative play – is that true?

All of the activities within the Montessori Classroom develop a childs creativity, you constantly see or hear children role playing with the activities they have chosen. We do a lot of artwork (lots of 3D artwork, recycling construction art and papier mache) and always have a theme to help develop their creativity. In our particular nursery, we have Music and Movement in our Music Room, a Role play room, Water Play, Sand play, Cars and Bikes area, Messy Play and a vegetable and herb garden where the children develop lots of their creativity daily!

Is Montessori suitable for all kids, or is it particularly well suited to certain people/children?

Montessori is suitable for all children, due to working independently and in groups each child learns self discipline which then increases confidence and self esteem.

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What ages does Montessori cater for? Are there Montessori schools too?

When we choose to train as a Montessori Teacher for Early Years, the age brackets are 0-6yrs and 2.6yrs – 6yrs. Unfortunately here in Dubai we can only have children aged up to 4yrs in the Nursery as this is a MOSA requirement that we have to follow. I believe some Nurseries under KHDA allow up to 6yr olds in their establishments. There are Montessori Schools but not here in Dubai, I know of them in Europe and the United States.

Are all Montessori nurseries pretty similar?

The materials used within a Montessori nursery should all be the same, however how they are run daily can vary depending on the management that is in charge of the premises and the training that the teachers have received.


Helen Taylor Shaw has been living in Dubai for 6 years and has been Principal at Ladybird Nursery Umm Suqeim for 3 years. She has over 20 years experience with children and holds a Montessori International Diploma and a degree in the Early Years Foundation Stage. Her wealth of experience stems from the UK, Hong Kong and here in Dubai.

Ladybird Nursery was founded in 1989 under the supervision of the London Montessori Centre and specialises in the education of children up to the age of 4.  They follow the Montessori curriculum and work in conjunction with the Early Years Foundation Stage and have a low student to teacher ratio with every class also having a Teacher, Assistant Teacher and Helper.  

Thank you Helen!


Featured image sourced via Pinterest, image #1 sourced via Pinterest,

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