Prince George's school: what makes the Montessori way so special?

Ainhoa Barcelona

Like father, like son – Prince George is following in the footsteps of his dad Prince William and will attend a Montessori school. His Royal Cuteness, who will start at the Westacre Montessori School in Norfolk in January, will spend a few mornings a week at the nursery.

William was the first senior royal to attend such a school. In the past, royals including Prince Charles started their education at home in the palace.

At the insistence of William's mother the late Diana, Princess of Wales, both of her sons William and Harry were educated the Montessori way. Diana herself was a nursery assistant at the Young England Kindergarten school in Pimlico, whose principal Miss Kay holds a Montessori Diploma.

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Prince George will attend a Montessori school like his dad Prince William

To use the Montessori name, a nursery must have a Montessori-trained member of staff.

But what exactly is a Montessori education? The Montessori approach was first founded by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori, who created her own model after extensive research with children, including those with special needs.

She put an emphasis on a child's independence, freedom and social development. Instead of being confined to traditional classroom restraints, Montessori children are encouraged to learn through play and develop at their own pace.

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They are given the choice between working at a desk or on the floor – although practices vary from school to school – and are encouraged to choose the activities they want to pursue, with their teachers acting as a guide.

The belief is that children will learn through play and discovery, rather than by instruction.

"Our local Montessori was one of the more balanced nursery schools near us," Ricardo Barcelona, a father of three former Montessori pupils, told HELLO! Online. "At four years old it's not all study and no play."

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George will spend a few mornings a week at the Westacre Montessori School in Norfolk

Children also have the freedom to move within the classroom and explore different areas, such as the reading and reflection corners.

Mixed age classrooms are encouraged, in the hope that younger children will learn from their older peers. When George attends he will be on the younger side of the spectrum at two years old.

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The Montessori approach encourages children to learn through play and discovery

His nursery, which was rated "good" by Ofsted after a summer inspection, costs £5.50 an hour or £33 a day to attend. A majority of the children's parents receive financial support.

The decision to send George to a local Norfolk nursery is a sign that Prince William and Kate regard their country estate Anmer Hall as their main home, rather than Kensington Palace in London. Nurseries near the palace would cost more than £15,000 a year on average.

News of George's pre-school education was announced on Friday morning. In a statement, representatives from the school said: "We are looking forward to welcoming George to our nursery where he will get the same special experience as all of our children."

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