I absolutely adore every moment that I spend in my own Montessori classroom but it is always a special treat when I have the opportunity to visit other environments to observe, learn, collaborate and share.
My Montessori Mum, Barbara Langford, has been an early childhood Consultant for many years. She has over 30 years of experience as an owner/operator, as a teacher, and as a Montessorian. Barb has deep and broad engagement within the early childhood sector, with connections to a range of organisations and associations that allow her to be on the cutting edge of regulatory changes and best practice. Barb has worked with a wide range of early childhood environments, specialising in Montessori support but also happily extending her aid to non-Montessori environments, to increase the quality of experiences and outcomes for children, families and educators.
Barb has recently invited me to take on a more active role in supporting her with these consulting services. For the past 10 years I have been an informal ‘sounding board’ for her and have always happily assisted ‘behind-the-scenes’. Now I am joining Barb ‘in the field’ so that we can act as a consulting partnership. Our process as a partnership allows us to compare observations and discuss thoughts to sharpen our ideas before we take them to our client. This enriches the level of insight and inspiration that we are able to offer. It is also extraordinarily fun! I love working with my mum in any context but we are both finding it incredibly enjoyable to share this intellectual exercise with one another. We wanted our partnership to have a name that reflected our values, so we are calling it 'Care to Learn'. Our new website is nearing completion at the time of this post and you can visit it here - or you can email Barb on firstname.lastname@example.org or me on email@example.com).
Our most recent engagement was with Rebecca Grugan at her centre The Hills Montessori in Redlands (just outside Brisbane).
Rebecca is the driving force behind I AM Montessori, which offers a range of innovative services and strategies for the Montessori sector. Bec is particularly passionate about making Montessori accessible to a broader audience, so she focuses much of her energy on that goal. Her team has developed resources that support parents and she operates Montessori Training Australia, which provides courses and workshops that introduce the beauty of this amazing method. Bec also pioneered the concept of developing Family Day Care (FDC) groups that operate under Montessori leadership. She supports several FDC environments herself and her idea has inspired other Montessori providers to branch out into this field as well.
Rebecca manages several centres for other owner/operators but when it came time to open the first centre that would be 100% her own she returned to her roots by developing a Montessori environment close to where she grew up in Alexandra Hills (or, as the Brisbane locals keep correcting me, “Alex Hills”). I AM Montessori in Alex Hills is located at 1 Verwood Court on a beautiful corner block that houses an inviting outdoor play space and the three large, open-plan classrooms. The centre caters for children from 15 months to 5 years, with this overall community cared for within two ‘mixed age range’ classes.
Barb and I spent the morning observing the Montessori ‘Work Cycle’ and then (after an intense de-brief with one another to consolidate our thoughts) we spent the afternoon in professional dialogue with Bec and Kim. It was a thoroughly stimulating, energising day! Perhaps my favourite part was the time we spent “off the clock” at the end of the day simply discussing the landscape of Montessori in Australia and sharing our visions for where it could go in the future and our values about how this could be achieved.
Bec was kind enough to allow me to capture some photos of my favourite features of the environment at The Hills Montessori. There was a lot to love, so I’ve had to cherry pick just a few images that hopefully express the atmosphere and character. Enjoy the tour!
The Preschool Classroom (3-5 years)
The beauty of natural wood is the star of the show in this classroom. These shelves were made on-site by a local carpenter - a deliberate choice by Rebecca to ensure that the children got to see the process of their furnishings being built while the centre was supporting the local economy.
I love seeing such a full range of Dressing Frames! I often see classrooms that have a few of the frames but it's wonderful when all of the different fasteners are available!
The Toddler Environments (15 months - 3 years)
A sanctuary of simplicity for the littlest learners!
The Outdoor Environment
I'm in love with this multi-storey cubby structure - especially the unique addition of a locks and latches wall!
Some happy hens are housed in a large hutch and observed by the curious children from this incredible log bench!
Yes there are still some vacancies available at The Hills Montessori. You can learn more at http://www.thehillsmontessori.com.au/
To learn more about Care To Learn, our consulting services:
Click here to visit out website
Barbara Langford: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jessica Matheson (nee Langford): email@example.com
To learn more about I AM Montessori: