Redwood Al Bateen is one of seven Redwood Nurseries in the capital, with a further four in Dubai and one in Doha, all operated by specialist early childhood education group, Kids First Group.
Redwood nurseries claim to follow "the authentic Montessori method, which encourages learning by children following their own individual interests" and are known for their high-end facilities and early learning resources.
With so many UAE early childhood settings claiming to provide an authentic Montessori early learning experience, our reviewer was eager to discover if Redwood Al Bateen would live up to its claims.
We visited the nursery on a Monday morning in early September. Space for parking outside the nursery appeared sufficient for parents to drop off their children with ease and the nursery’s security guard was diligent and professional when providing access.
The nursery is housed in a spacious converted residential villa, with a large recently renovated outdoor space. While perhaps not as grand in appearance as some of the group’s purpose-built locations, Redwood Al Bateen has a warm homely quality that many families will prefer in an early childhood setting.
We were warmly welcomed to the nursery by Regional Director of Redwood Nurseries Abu Dhabi, Ms Kerryn Michna, and Nursery Manager, Ms Cherise Thompson. While Ms Michna has been part of the Redwood Nurseries group since 2018 – and is very much a seasoned leader in early childhood education – Ms Thompson has very recently taken the reigns as Nursery Manager.
Ms Thompson spoke with great enthusiasm for the Montessori approach and the experienced team of educators she is working with. Discussing her goals for the nursery, Ms Thompson explained:
“I really want to create an environment where families feel at home and are excited to get involved in the nursery. I want the atmosphere to be friendly and social, a hub of parent participation, where we can collaborate together.”
We met with Feline, mother of a 19-month-old child who had attended the nursery for over a year. Feline explained that when selecting a nursery, her most important criteria had been what she described as the “human element”, a nurturing and caring environment where her child could feel at home.
Feline explained that although the management has since changed, she still feels that same warmth; she feels reassured that her daughter is “surrounded by people loving her at nursery”.
Redwood Al Bateen has seven classrooms, each freshly decorated in soothing earthy tones, with wooden furniture and hessian backed displays on the walls. Classrooms are impressively well equipped with a full range of high-quality Montessori materials, the extent of which we have not come across in other UAE nurseries outside of the Redwood group.
The nursery also has considerable outdoor space, the likes of which is hard to find in a city-centre nursery. This area has been recently renovated, with wooden climbing equipment, a children’s grow garden, sensory walk and splash pad. This exciting outdoor space felt worlds away from the busy city life outside its walls.
We were invited to observe a Junior Preschool Class (2-3 year olds) and a Senior Preschool Class (3-4 year olds).
The group of 14 2-3 year olds appeared very engaged with a range of self-selected activities, including rock painting, sculpting play dough and using the autodidactic Montessori materials available on the classroom shelves. As one might expect in a Montessori environment, the presence of the adults was never dominating; they provide gentle support, only as needed, as the children led their own exploration and creativity
In the Senior Preschool classroom, a smaller group of children prepared for a French language session with their bilingual class teacher. The teacher expertly prepared the children for the session, supporting the transition from snack time to circle time with a fun movement activity; this received giggles and smiles as the children calmly sat in their circle. The children were very responsive during this engaging language session, which included action songs and games.
As one of the longest running nurseries in the Redwood group, Redwood Al Bateen gave an impression of calm maturity, in a homely environment. The nursery’s experienced Montessori educators appear to have an expert understanding of this very particular approach to education and care, and they provide a nurturing environment for their very young students.
For parents seeking a Montessori nursery in Abu Dhabi, the Redwood group should undoubtedly be at the top of a list, with its Al Bateen branch offering considerable expertise and excellent facilities and resources.