For two decades, Little Woods Montessori, a boutique preschool tucked away in a quiet neighbourhood off Gentle Road, has welcomed little learners from 18 months to six years, providing a nurturing environment for young minds to learn and flourish. The preschool, which uses a unique Montessori curriculum specially designed by founder Mrs. Isabel Angela Seery, has produced hundreds of bright graduates with a genuine lifelong love for learning.
In celebration of its 20th anniversary, Little Woods Montessori launched an eponymously titled children’s storybook. Authored by Mrs. Isabel Angela Seery, the book features drawings contributed by present students and alumni – evidence that Little Woods Montessori is more than a preschool where little ones take their first academic steps.
We sat down with Little Woods Montessori’s esteemed founder, Mrs. Isabel Angela Seery, where she shared about the book, her secrets on building a tight-knit alumni community and more.
What sparked the idea to produce ‘Little Woods Montessori’?
“It has always been a goal for me to write a book. And I thought it would be the best thing to celebrate the school’s 20th anniversary. The book shows what happens in our preschooler’s five years – our Montessori curriculum, daily activities, special events and more – with Little Woods Montessori.
Why did you choose to focus on that?
“I wanted to educate parents on what Montessori is, to share the uniqueness of our school, which focuses on the authentic Montessori curriculum. But I wouldn’t be able to do so without including the children, so the book also became a collaboration of their experiences. On its cover, you will see an image of a stained glass window, which was created based on drawings by our pre-schoolers. The very same children are now over 20 years old!”
The book features drawings from present preschoolers and alumni. What was the process of getting in touch with former students like?
“The students who first enrolled with us came by word of mouth; they were either friends of friends or through parent recommendations. I was able to keep in touch with some of the parents and there were a few mothers who were just so helpful because they have lovely memories of their children’s time with the school. Many of the children who contributed to the book are studying overseas. But their drawings came to me all the way from India, the UK, Australia… it was a meaningful project not just for me, but also our team of long-standing teachers.”
How does Little Woods Montessori foster a tight-knit community amongst not only the alumni but also the parents?
“A lot of it has to do with the parents and children remembering the school, having the children drop by just to say hello. It is the uniqueness of the school, the fact that they fondly remember their teachers and their time spent at Little Woods Montessori. Over the years, we have also invited parents and alumni to speak to the children. We recently had a former student come back for a fencing demonstration – our doors are always open to them.”
The school commemorated its 20th anniversary with a huge celebration! What were some of your highlights?
“The theme of this year’s concert was ‘Children of the World’, and it was a fitting one because we have multi-racial students from all over the globe. We had performances by our children and the alumni – there were about 30 to 40 of them who came to the concert. A particularly touching moment was when all of our students, both past and present, gathered onstage to sing Michael Jackson’s ‘We Are The World’. It was a beautiful and heartwarming moment.”
Little Woods Montessori sees plenty of local and international students. What were some of your considerations when it came to designing a globally inclusive curriculum?
“Learning wise, the Montessori framework works towards developing well-rounded children across components such as Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Mathematics, Music and Art, and Discovery of the World. It prepares children well for the transition into primary or grade school.
We place emphasis on having a good balance. The nature of the Montessori curriculum allows kids to learn while exploring. Through skill-based activities that familiarise them with basic concepts such as multiplication, phonetics and reading, children are able to build a strong academic foundation and become independent learners.
In such a diverse environment, it is important to learn about different cultures and traditions. Our modules include relevant themes to raise cultural awareness. Furthermore, the curriculum teaches the children to embrace other people’s differences and limitations. It starts from the school’s buddy system, which in the mixed-age Montessori classroom means having the older children act as role models to the younger ones they are ‘mentoring’. We teach the children important values such as having grace, being courteous and showing respect and empathy.”
How does Little Woods Montessori involve parents in their children’s learning?
“It starts from day one. Montessori is not just an educational approach. Parents are able to get involved in many ways. We teach parents basic Montessori principles so the children are able to follow through at home. For example, the kids bring home books to read with their parents, and they are encouraged to prepare their child for show and tell sessions. Little Woods Montessori is a very family-oriented school, so we also invite parents to speak every term, or participate in our events. This year, we even had a Finnish grandfather as our Santa Claus!
Beyond learning, Little Woods Montessori focuses on the shared experiences between parent and child. It’s not just about teaching your child how to read; it is about engaging your child and bonding over enjoyable moments.”
This post was brought to you by Little Woods Montessori.