A bilingual school championing a teaching method favoured by the founders of Facebook, Amazon and the Royal family will be opening in Jersey next autumn.
The Bilingual Montessori School of Jersey will be the island's first mixed language school.
Specialised in the 'Montessori method', which places emphasis on children's social development and natural interests, it will be open to 40 children between the age of two-and-a-half and five, with a staff of fully-trained English and French Montessori ‘directresses'.
It is being launched by long-time early years professional Dawn McLachlan, who has owned and operated childcare establishments for over 23 years both in the UK and Jersey. She started with ‘La Petite Ecole’ at Fort Regent in 1999 and opened ‘Organic Kids’ at Castle Quay more recently.
Ms McLachlan says she opened her first establishment with the desire to provide for other children what she expected for her own. “I have never lost that thought when I consider new ways forward in delivering the best for children,” she explained. “I look at 'would I want that for my child?"
Pictured: The school will be open to 40 children between the age of two and a half and five.
While the Montessori school will be her tenth establishment, Ms McLachlan says it is the “most unique and exciting to date.”
The Montessori teaching method was developed by Italian physician Dr Maria Montessori, who believed that a child’s early years are critical when it came to education. She therefore developed a system that would provide “a totally immersive learning environment that stimulates the mind and encourages curiosity.” It was the type of schooling given to Mark Zuckerberg, who created Facebook, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
The new St. Helier-based school will be affiliated with the AMI-accredited Bilingual Montessori School of Paris and will be working towards a full accreditation. Ms McLachlan has also worked with Dr Sandra Mountford, Early Years Consultant and former Head of Childcare Registration in Jersey, and Camille Perdereau, Director of the Alliance Française, to establish the school.
Laurent Lavollay-Porter, Co-Director for The Bilingual Montessori School of Paris, commented: “Dawn’s passion for delivering exemplary nursery care was evident from the first day we met. I have every confidence that The Bilingual Montessori School of Jersey will be an incredible opportunity for children.”
Video: The Bilingual Montessori School of Jersey will be open in autumn 2019.
Children will not be wearing uniforms at the Montessori school to promote “individuality and independence.” Each class of no more than 20 pupils will be supervised by two AMI-trained Montessori directresses (teachers) - one French native speaker and one English native speaker.
The 50% split between French and English classes is aimed to ensure the children “will enjoy total immersion in that language with a native speaking directress." "That is the only way to learn a language and is the best age to learn a language as it is during their absorbent period,” Ms Lachlan explained.
Combined with the Montessori teaching method, the language immersion aims to encourage “independent thinking, self-discipline, a respect for others and enhances problem-solving and decision-making skills." “These are all valuable life skills for any child if they’re to grow into a capable, independent adult,” said Ms McLachlan.
The new school will also offer before and after school attendance and holiday clubs including music, dance and additional French lessons.
While the location of the school has yet to be disclosed – the purchasing process is still ongoing – Ms McLachlan has already announced that further schools are planned for Castle Quay and La Providence.
“This style of education engages a child’s natural curiosity with hands-on learning and self-discovery,” Ms Machland said. It provides an opportunity to find out what interests them. Why encourage a child to be average when you can give them the space and freedom to excel in what they are good at and enjoy.”
Ms McLachlan will be making a presentation about the school at Castle Quay's Chart Room on 20 and 22 November at 19:00 with Laurent Lavollay-Porter.
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