Redwood Montessori Nursery is a chain of nurseries located across the UAE which offer the Montessori "child-led" method of education. The curriculum includes language lessons, cultural studies lessons, and sensorial exercises.
Our first impression of this nursery was of the fantastic location. Situated on the mezzanine floor of the Golden Mile Galleria mall, this setting not only has easy access from the plentiful underground parking – it is surrounded by convenient cafés, shop and salons. Outside is Ittihad Park, a great place for a quick stop and play before or after nursery. This is an ideal location for Palm Jumeirah families.
Redwood is clearly signposted throughout the mall, and accessed either via a lift or escalators. The main entrance is well secured and we were buzzed through to a welcoming reception area. The colour scheme of the entire nursery is green, white and neutral woods – linking appropriately with the “Redwood” name and creating a calm and serene atmosphere throughout.
Note, Redwood has a sister branch in Abu Dhabi and is part of the Kids First Group. The Palm branch is led by Shela Khan, Nursery Director.
This is a beautifully curated and stylish nursery, which makes fantastic use of the available space. Classrooms are spacious, light and bright and thoughtfully planned to support use of Montessori specific learning methods and resources, which are numerous in each classroom. The clinic is large and well equipped and staffed by a British nurse. The entire facility is kept beautifully clean.
The outside area is of an especially high quality and includes an exciting wooden tree house, sandpit, reading bench and water play and gardening areas. There is a small gated grassy area for the youngest children, keeping them safely away from older children for outdoor play. Sail shades provide shade throughout the day. On the hottest days there is a well-equipped indoor gym/soft play area.
The gym is also used for extra-curricular activities, delivered by the sports group New York Sports. Their programme includes Zumba, drumming, gymnastics, soccer and tennis. These classes come at an additional cost and are delivered during the afternoon sessions.
Languages are embedded within the regular curriculum. For children age over 2, the nursery offers their entire curriculum delivered in either English and Arabic or English and French. We learn that this immersion in languages is a cornerstone of Redwood nursery.
Before we meet the teaching team, Shela tells us more about how Redwood supports key areas of child development. In terms of communication and language acquisition, the focus on bilingualism is important, but Shela is keen to point out that teachers are trained to also focus on the quality of communication between children and staff. Real, two way communication is valued over just “talking” and rote learning. Children are asked to discuss the processes of every activity and to ask thoughtful open ended questions.
Personal, social and emotional development is, Shela tell us, one of the key aspects of Montessori learning and one of the special strengths of Redwood. Children are encouraged to be helpful and useful members of the nursery community from an early age. Children help each other with snack time, and independent toileting is encouraged from whenever a child feels ready. Children are bound only by the rules to be safe and to respect their environment. A gentle, delicate use of their voices and movements is encouraged.
The superb garden areas are fundamental to promoting the acquisition of gross motor skills, and within the classroom the use of Montessori specific toys, puzzles and aid fine motor skills.
Staff to children ratios are good here, being:
We meet, Mayssa, an enthusiastic, Montessori specialist teacher from Canada. She speaks highly of nursery, especially highlighting their desire to be accepting of children with special needs. She feels the Montessori method has many benefits for children with special needs and tells us that she has witnessed children progressing in unexpected and positive ways at Redwood. She praises the constant learning and exchange of ideas between teachers and management.
Lastly, we are able to meet Karen, whose two year old son attends the nursery. Karen is visibly moved when she talks about the nursery – what better praise than that? She feels that the centre has an incredible family and community connection and that they are making constant innovations and improvements. She enjoys the regular parent workshops that help them continue the themes of Montessori at home. Communication with parents is via a popular app and they receive detailed termly reports. In addition, a weekly e mail keeps parents informed of their child’s day to day activities.
For parents looking for a Montessori education for their child, Redwood is a great option with outstanding facilities. Children progress to many different schools such as Clarion School, Oaktree Primary School, Sunmarke School and the Swiss International Scientific School.
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