My Environment – Headland Montessori, North Head Sanctuary Manly

My Environment – Headland Montessori, North Head Sanctuary Manly

Melissa Chandler – 0-3 Diploma Director

At the very tip of Manly, in NSW, there is a nature refuge called North Head Sanctuary.  Complete with epic views of Sydney Harbour, wild flowers, native wildlife and military relics from World War II. Tucked away in one of the old military buildings I run the Birth to Three Parent Programs for Headland Montessori which consists of the Parent Toddler Program (PTP), for children from around 16 months to 3 years and the Parent Infant Program (PIP) for infants from birth to 16 mths.

From the outside ‘Building 2’ offers no hint of the high ceilings and light filled space that has been set up as a 0-3 prepared environment for parents and carers to attend with their children once a week during school term time. 

 It is space for like minded parents to come together and to learn about the Montessori Philosophy. It is an opportunity for children to follow their interests and explore Montessori materials that meet their developmental needs.

Building 2 is a stand alone building which means I work independently and autonomously.  The main Headland Montessori Long Day Care Centre is housed in Building 49 a short walk across the old military marching ground. Although I can drop in to see colleagues before or after my classes, I prepare materials, set up, clean and  tidy the environment on my own each class. I also manage the program enrolments and correspondence with families. 

But I’m not always alone. Building 2 is also used as the training centre for the AMI 0-3 Diploma in Sydney. So every few months the 0-3 diploma students will spend their time listening to lectures delivered by an AMI trained Director of Training, as well as observing the children who attend the parent programs. On the days that the parent programs are not running, the diploma students use the prepared environment to practice with the materials as they prepare for their exams. Sharing the building with the Directors of Training and Diploma students  is a highlight for me. I love the extra people around, the energy and the conversations that it brings. I look forward to meeting the students and getting to know them as they progress in their studies and their own journeys towards becoming Montessori 0-3 trained . After-all it is one I am very familiar with, as I also completed my AMI 0-3 Diploma in Building 2. The building is filled with wonderful memories of the time I spent studying there, a time which was a life changing experience for me.

There are a few other small businesses that operate out of the surrounding barrack buildings and one morning I found myself watching someone arrive at work and I thought to myself ‘how lucky are they to work in such a peaceful place’. I had to laugh as I realised I also work in this serene setting.  Many parents tell me how lovely it is to attend the program in such a tranquil environment, that they can feel their stresses slip away as they come into the North Head Sanctuary, enabling them to spend a morning fully present with their child. I have to agree, it’s a beautiful location for a Montessori environment.