Footsteps Nursery is at the forefront of early childhood education in Qatar, blending Montessori principles with exceptional staff and facilities. We had the opportunity to sit down with Managing Director Dr. Marie Abou Rached to discuss the nursery's mission, staff selection process, and commitment to Qatari heritage and culture.
Q: How does the Montessori system influence Footsteps Nursery's curriculum and material preparation?
A: At Footsteps Nursery, we believe in the Montessori philosophy of child-centered and hands-on learning. Our curriculum is designed to encourage children's natural curiosity and help them develop essential skills at their own pace. We also carefully select and prepare Montessori materials to ensure a rich and engaging learning environment.
Q: Can you tell us more about your staff selection process and the training programs you offer?
A: We have a rigorous selection process in place to ensure our staff is not only qualified but also caring and loving. We look for educators who share our passion for childcare and education. To maintain our high standards, we offer to our staff regular training programs covering a range of topics, from pedagogy and child development to first aid and safety.
Q: How do you involve parents in their child's learning journey at Footsteps Nursery?
A: We believe that parent involvement is crucial for a child's development. We encourage parents to take part in frequent activities and child-parent team events, as these interactions have immense benefits for strengthening family bonds and enhancing the learning experience.
Furthermore, we use Montessori books for all classes (starting at 12 months old). Books include weekly assessments that provide an opportunity to teachers and parents to work together to support children’s development and improvement.
Q: How does Footsteps Nursery foster an environment of respect, self-reliance, and other Montessori values?
A: We create a nurturing atmosphere where children learn through play, which promotes learning through the subconscious mind process. By allowing children to explore and experiment independently, we encourage the development of self-reliance, problem-solving, and decision-making skills, all of which are integral to Montessori education.
Q: Can you share more about the importance of Qatari heritage and culture at Footsteps
A: We deeply value Qatari heritage and culture, moreover we seek to instill a sense of pride and appreciation in our students. We teach Qatar History and incorporate cultural elements into our activities, making them Qatar-centric. This approach does not only raise cultural awareness but also helps children develop a strong connection to their roots.
Q: What are the benefits of NO screen time for kids at your nursery?
A: Research has shown that screen time inhibits young kids’ ability to read faces and to learn social skills. Besides, screen time leads to learning and sleep problems, also it increases the chances of obesity. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than one hour a day for children ages two to five years old, and no screen time for children under eighteen months.
Q: Tell us about what sets you apart?
A: We try to approach every sector in a way that sets us apart, training, hygiene, and practices. Our facilities are catered to enable our staff to provide a higher quality of education; this is something we believe is fundamental to an educational institution, to teach.
-We have dedicated:
1-A Language center to learn English, Arabic and French. We provide kids with a language-rich environment (books, props, flash cards, etc.) to engage them in conversations in safe and supportive surroundings. Kids learn to speak languages by using various activities such as storytelling, role-playing and singing. According to the American speech- language and hearing association children should be exposed to a foreign language from an early age.
To promote literacy, we created a print-rich environment: kids have access to books, magazines, and other printed material also we engage children in various literate activities. Literacy encourages children to develop their fine motor skills and to hold the pencil in a specific grasp.
2- A Math Centre that is full of resources to help children develop fine motor skills (jigsaws, shapes and sorters and threading activities).
3- A creative area that is filled with numerous supplies that allow the child to choose freely (for instance: paint, paper and crayons, junk modelling, and many other materials).
4- A cozy area and a reading corner that allow kids to sit and relax in a stress-free environment (which is important for kids’ emotional health), to listen to music and/ or to look at a book. Reading to children contributes to their brain and speech development.
5- A Role-play room that improves social, communication and language skills while playing with other kids. Children will expand their vocabulary and their imagination as they create stories and share experiences.
6- A sensory room that permits kids: to explore their 5 senses, to improve communication and movement, and to incite processes within their brain.
7- A messy play area promotes physical development in young children. Squeezing, digging, pouring, scooping, etc. improve hand-eye coordination, muscle control and muscle strengthening.
8- A soft playroom that allows kids to interact with their peers, to play while exercising (running, climbing, building) to encourage teamwork and to develop crucial social skills.
9- A sleeping room that lets kids have a quality rest that helps them to learn better and to stay healthy.
10- An outside large play area that encourages kids to play freely and to exercise. Also, kids are encouraged to take care of flowers and vegetables in the garden.
11- A dining room that grants kids the chance to learn social skills (such as serving themselves, taking turns, using utensils, passing food to others, using words such as “thank you and “please”, etc.). Serving daily meals family style help kids learn the routine and manners that go with mealtimes.
In addition to the above, we bolster student responsibility with life skills lessons and good manners. This is where we differentiate ourselves, we created Footsteps Nursery to set a new bar in childcare, to provide a safe and nurturing environment, in a natural setting that encourages explorative play and promotes cognitive skills.
Q: What are your plans for Footsteps Nursery?
A: Our mission is to continue providing the best childcare in Qatar. We are committed to upholding our high standards of education, staff training, and parental involvement. Furthermore, expanding our offerings to better serve the diverse needs of our community. We are in tune with Qatar’s vision 2030, where education and sports both play an important role in the country’s vision. This gives us an immense responsibility to uphold those values, as well as a clear roadmap for all of us to follow.
Footsteps Nursery is truly a leader in Montessori education in Qatar, thanks to its dedicated team, exceptional facilities, and strong commitment to cultural heritage. With a clear vision for the future, Footsteps nursery is set to continue making a positive impact on its students and its community.
· Babies need humans not screens.
· Early infancy is the most delicate period in human life. “Maria Montessori”
· The greatest gifts we can give our children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence” Maria Montessori
· The goal of early childhood education should be to activate the child’s own natural desire to learn “ Maria Montessori