16 May Montessori Village Sarrià-St Gervasi
The Montessori Village brand was founded in Madrid in 2011. Can you tell us something about how and why it was founded?
Maria Giménez and Ana Monemeneu, who have been friends for over 15 years, created Montessori Village after becoming mums. They believed that important values like respect were disappearing in today’s education and the foundations of formal education in Spain needed a great change. They wanted to be part of this change.
Montessori Village is committed to a solid education based on giving children tools to be autonomous in their learning process and freedom within a prepared environment, which teaches them to make decisions and respect others. Montessori children are free to explore and investigate by themselves. Discipline is needed for this freedom and that is why individual work and personal responsibility are given so much importance in this method.
Montessori Village has worked hard to ensure that the project stays aligned with the principles of Dr. Maria Montessori and it follows all the guidelines set by the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI).
What is the Montessori Method?
The Montessori Method is a pedagogical method developed by Dr. Maria Montessori based on the observation of the behaviour of children in the classroom for over 50 years. This method, known and used internationally, is aimed at the internal discipline and the development of the child’s potential. Its objective lies in the human beings’ own motivation to learn, as well as a desire to do things by themselves independently.
Learning is a process that is acquired through the experiences lived in the environment, so in the Montessori classrooms, we offer children an attractive environment and awaken in them the desire to explore. Both the environment and the materials have the objective of motivating the child to work and investigate independently, helping them to learn for themselves.
When and why did you open the branch in Sarrià?
I opened in October 2018. I had a little school, where I taught English to children of all ages for 11 years. For many years I wanted to have an English nursery school where kids in Barcelona could learn English in a natural way. When I had my son 7 years ago I came across the Montessori Method and I fell in love with it so I thought it would be great to combine this loving respectful methodology with the English language.
How do you create that special Montessori environment?
We take into account childrens’ development to prepare the environment. Our prepared environments have appropriate materials and activities for each developmental stage. We offer a variety of corners in which children can explore and follow their curiosity depending on their development.
Nido, for example is a beautiful space, full of peace and calm. The guides speak in a low tone and follow the child’s rhythm. We want to offer babies a second home, where they can explore and feel safe.
The Infant Community environment has order, simplicity and transmits peace. Every detail is taken care of in order to satisfy the rhythm of the children’s learning process. Everything has been carefully planned to meet the needs of the children, while strengthening their sense of independence and self-esteem. The height of the furniture is adapted to their size so that they can freely work without the need of an adult to give them what they want.
The Children’s House environment is a space adapted to all development and growth needs for children aged 3 to 6 with materials and activities of practical life, sensory, mathematics, language, art, geography, botany and music.
What languages do you use in the centre?
We use as much English as possible, at least 50% of the teachers (in Montessori they are called Guides) are English speakers and we also have Catalan/Spanish Guides.
What is the difference between the Nido, Infant Community and Children’s House Programme you offer?
Nido is for babies from 4 months until they walk in an autonomous and safe way (around 15-18 months), when they are ready to move to Infant Community. Every child in our environment is treated with affection and respect because in Montessori “we follow the child”. There is a daily routine but we adapt it if needed since each child is different and by doing so we are respecting each child’s rhythm. We provide personalised attention, and that is why our ratio is much lower than that of any traditional nursery school.
Feeding time is very important since it is in this stage that we introduce new food. We communicate with families daily and we take into account their needs, suggestions and doubts about any food changes that the child experiences. Of course we take into account all kinds of allergies and intolerances in our baby menus and all other menus.
Infant Community is for children from around 15 months to approximately 3 years of age. This programme invites exploration, in a world created especially for them. Our Infant Community Programme provides a safe and educational environment, which allows children’s freedom of movement and child-directed learning. The materials are specifically structured to meet the needs of children of this age and the activities have a real purpose that helps them understand their environment. The purpose of this Montessori environment is to develop language skills and the acquisition of habits for independence and social interaction.
Our Children’s House environment welcomes children from 3 to 6 years old. They are accompanied by a certified Montessori Guide and an assistant during these years. There is always an English speaking person in the environment. In this environment, the age mix is of great importance. Teamwork can be seen when elders help and teach younger children who learn each movement of their peers by observing them and learning through their absorbent minds.
Children are free to work with the materials they want at all times. Each morning they go to the area that appeals to them most, where they learn to use the materials guided by the teacher. They can read and watch stories in the reading area, go to the relaxation area or explore in the science area.
All programmes have outside outdoor activities. We greatly encourage teamwork and being part of the school community, that is why children are responsible for common tasks such as making bread, setting the table, working in the vegetable garden and collaborating with the basic routines of the centre.
Can children do a half day at the centre or do they have to do a full day?
Yes, in Nido and Infant Community, children can do half day 9 to 12h and in Children’s House 9 to 13h. Full day is from 9 to 16h with the possibility of extension from 07.30 to 18h.
You also offer Summer Camps. For which age group are these for and what kind of activities do you do?
We have Summer Camps for kids aged 3 to 8. We follow the Montessori philosophy and use English as the main language. Our Summer Camp includes some of our Montessori activities, trips to a farm and going to CosmoCaixa (which is right next to us). We also have cooking, art, music and movement workshops, water games and other outdoor activities.
What other workshops do you offer?
We offer workshops for parents on subjects related to children for example: explaining the Montessori method, Montessori at home, Positive Discipline, etc
We also offer other programmes such as Montessori Starters, which is a weekly afternoon programme (one day a week from 1630 to 18h) for parents and their kids. This programme is great to get familiar with the Montessori philosophy and have contact with other kids when parents don’t want them to start going to school daily. It provides the child with all the advantages of the Montessori method: initiative, autonomy, teamwork, individual work, discipline, routines and habits. It is a starter programme so it is only once a week and with the parents stay.
Describe Montessori Village Sarrià – St Gervasi in 3 words.
It’s a respectful, caring, loving little home.