Redwood Montessori Nurseries are a chain of nurseries, operated by Kids First Group, located across the UAE and Qatar, which offer the Montessori "child-led" method of education. The curriculum includes language lessons, cultural studies lessons, and sensorial exercises. The Mushrif branch is a newly acquired existing nursery, recently refurbished and transformed into a high-quality Montessori setting.
Redwood Montessori Nursery Mushrif was, up until December 2021, operating under different ownership and management, as Rosewood Nursery. While the name of Rosewood to Redwood does not appear a dramatic change, it has brought with it considerable upgrade in terms of facilities, clarity of approach and staff training.
The nursery is now part of Kids First Group, an organisation operating 28 nurseries across the UAE and Qatar, including nine under the Redwood ‘brand’. Redwood Montessori Nurseries have had a strong reputation for high quality early years provision in Abu Dhabi for many years now, having opened the first Redwood in Khalifa City in 2012.
The strength of this nursery prior to its transformation was its strong sense of community and committed team of educators. Parents will be happy to read that the nursery’s new management have gone to great lengths to retain these staff members, providing them with considerable training in the Montessori method, and equipping them with high quality Montessori materials.
Our reviewer visited Redwood Montessori Nursery Mushrif on 23rd August 2022, during the nursery’s summer camp period, two weeks prior to the start of the nursery’s new term.
We were warmly received by Ms Kerryn Michna, Area Director for Redwood Montessori Nurseries Abu Dhabi, and Ms Naomi Reece, Nursery Manager.
Ms Michna, a confident and passionate advocate of the Montessori approach, and for the highly successful nurseries she oversees, has been working with the group for many years, having started out in a teacher role and working her way up the ranks. This on-the-ground experience is apparent as she talks about the nursery’s team of educators. She clearly has a strong sense of the importance of her staff being motivated and passionate about what they do, and of the connections they have with the nursery’s families:
“Parents are delighted with the transformation of the facilities here, but one thing they were clear on that they did not want to change, was the teachers. The team here have such good relationships with their children. And for us also, we have seen from the start that this team are truly passionate about what they do. So, we have provided them with training and involved them in the changes we are making. They are so enthusiastic; they have absorbed it all and ran with it.”
Promoting from within the organisation is clearly an approach that works well for Kids First Group, as Ms Reece has also moved up the ranks, having joined as a teacher in Redwood Montessori Nursery Khalifa City. Having started her education career in schools in her home country of England, Ms Reece decided to work in nurseries when coming to the UAE and accomplished her early years diploma while working. She is currently completing her Cache Level 5 Diploma in early years leadership.
As the name suggests, Redwood Montessori Nursery Mushrif uses the Montessori approach, a model which seeks to support the child’s innate hunger for learning and natural interests, in which the teacher acts as facilitator for this. Montessori education requires an expertly prepared environment, using specific pedagogical materials, that support hand-on learning and independence.
|Age Group||Adult to Child Ratio|
|45 days - 12 months||1:3|
|12 months - 17 months||1:3|
|18 months - 2 years||1:4|
Class sizes vary, as is often the case in converted villa nurseries, and are in line with ADEK requirements for space per child in each age group. The nursery's smallest classrooms (which are still pleasantly spacious) can accommodate up to 14 children, while the largest classrooms (for children aged 2 years+) can accommodate up to 25 children.
What has been a simple but charming villa nursery has been transformed into a beautifully designed setting that really stands out yet manages to retain its warmth.
Renovations indoors have included extending the size of classrooms, ensuring each room has plenty of natural light and open space, and the creation of a multi-level play structure in the nursery’s central shared play space, designed to feel like a treehouse, providing opportunity for children to engage in imaginative play. The nursery’s gym, which was in a relatively good condition prior to the renovations, has been untouched. There has been considerable investment in high quality Montessori materials, and each classroom is well kitted out, in line with the group’s other nurseries.
The nursery’s outdoor space has been renovated extensively, and has a splash pad, tricycle area, organic planting area and sensory wall. We were pleased to see that the nursery’s outdoor space had retained some of its natural grass for the children to play on too.
Most of staff working at Redwood Montessori Nursery Mushrif have been working at the nursery under its previous name for several years. They are a very international group of educators who, based on our visit, appeared engaged, attentive, and enthusiastic about their work.
As per the nursery’s own admission, most of the team are not experienced Montessorians, but are extremely experienced early childhood educators, and are receiving considerable professional training and development to support their knowledge and practice in this very exacting educational approach.
In our reviewer’s view, this need not be a source of concern for most parents. While educational practice is unlikely to be Montessori in its purest form in this setting, it will likely be a cut above many other nurseries labelling themselves as ‘Montessori’ across the UAE, who are able to do so without any certification. The provision of on-going quality Montessori training for this team (delivered by a certified Montessori trainer) is commendable, and the staff already appear to be providing a nurturing, developmentally supportive environment for its young learners.
Redwood Montessori Nursery Mushrif provides a rare balance of human warmth from its passionate team of educators, and impeccably designed facilities with high quality standards. Our reviewer commends the nursery’s new management for investing heavily in the current team, in recognition of the strong bonds between the existing staff and families at this nursery.
With the expert training in Montessori practice being provided at this nursery, and the stunning new facilities in place, this new Redwood nursery could evolve into a real stand-out setting in Abu Dhabi. Our reviewer looks forward to seeing it develop over the coming years.
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