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  • Writer's pictureSheree Hoddinett

A Child-led Approach to Learning

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

The brainchild of sisters Anita, Natalie and Deb, Absorbent Minds took seven years to come to fruition and continues to move forward in leaps and bounds.

Anita, Natalie and Deb are the faces behind Absorbent Minds

It may have been seven years in the making, but when Absorbent Minds Montessori Early Education finally opened in August 2022, it was a dream come true for sisters Anita, Natalie and Deb. Wanting to offer families the opportunity to have access to a Montessori long day care centre in the Moreton Bay Region, the trio went through all the processes and protocols to find the right location before settling on the chosen spot in Burpengary. With the perfect combination of nature, nurture and nutrition (from Project Salubrious located in the same building and run by Anita’s husband Kurt) Absorbent Minds is proving to be a popular choice in the community. .


“Montessori is for every child because it is adapted for each child, but Montessori isn't for every family and that's the key difference.” - Natalie

The Montessori journey all began with Anita and her own children. After being told about Montessori when living in North Queensland, Anita started doing some research and discovered she loved the idea.


“Once I started learning about Montessori, I knew immediately this form of education is what I wanted to provide to my children,” Anita says. “As there is only Montessori education in southeast Queensland – at Fig Tree Pocket in Brisbane, Caboolture and Forest Glen on the Sunshine Coast - my husband Kurt and I made the decision to relocate down this way. After just one tour of the Caboolture Montessori School, I knew this is where my children were meant to be.”



The shared play space

The plan was for Anita’s children to attend the Harmony Montessori childcare centre on Fortune Esplanade in Caboolture, before then moving to the Caboolture Montessori School when they reached primary school age. But a change in hands behind the scenes would set a spanner in the works and lead to Anita and her sisters embarking on the path that would eventually become Absorbent Minds.


“We knew collectively that our skillsets would work together beautifully,” Anita says. “Between the three of us, we decided there was no point in complaining about what wasn’t available and see what we could do to change that.

“There was no longer a Montessori long day care centre in all of the Moreton Bay Region, until we changed that. It took seven years to get it all sorted with finding the right parcel of land, tenders, the build, issues relating to Covid, a timber shortage…any possible delay that could hit us over seven years did. But every time something came up, there was always a solution.

“So, it did take time and challenges, but we never wavered in what we wanted to provide to families. We always felt that if we believe passionately about this and we want this for our children, there has to be other families that feel the same way. Our enrolments are a testament to that.”


With six out of their eight classrooms currently open and 130 families in attendance, there’s certainly proof that the Montessori way is something that many people want for their children.


“It’s all happening organically,” Natalie says. “We had the interest there before the framework had even gone up. But we knew we needed to do the slow and steady approach for both families and staff, so they could normalise into it and scale into the approach as well. It’s also given us the time to find our feet and see what works and what doesn’t.”


If you’re not familiar with Montessori education, it’s all based on following the lead of the individual child.


“We look at everyone as an individual, so what we have as an approach is not going to be used across every child,” Natalie says. “Montessori is for every child because it is adapted for each child, but Montessori isn't for every family and that's the key difference.”


The centre caters for children aged from six months right up until they leave for prep at school. The team at Absorbent Minds pride themselves on sharing their space with a great bunch of young characters and personalities.


“What's beautiful about Montessori and one of the things I love about it is, Montessori is all about not diminishing that unique spark every child has,” Natalie says. “It's about being the guide next to them and letting them develop that spark and follow those natural interests of the child.”


One of the classrooms at Absorbent Minds

Coming from corporate backgrounds, the three sisters wanted to ensure their centre catered for everyone, including their team of now 30 staff.


“While we did a lot of our setting up through the lens of a parent, but everything we’ve done here, we also considered our staff as well,” Anita says. “We knew we needed to build a place where staff feel valued and respected, but was also aesthetically pleasing for them to come to work every day.

“It's not a concrete jungle, because at the end of the day, we believe lots about energy in the environment and the starting point is the staff and if they are happy, well respected and they're working in an environment that they're proud of and want to be part of, that has to be your foundation every day for your children coming into the room.”


If you aren’t sure about Montessori or whether you think it’s for you, Anita and Natalie encourage families to speak with them and find out more.


“Come and talk to us, let us show you around and tell you what authentic Montessori practices are,” Natalie says. “We find that a lot of the time, once we explain Montessori to families, they realise they’re already doing some of it with their children at home already.

“So don’t be put off if you don’t know what Montessori is or what it’s about, because we would love the opportunity to explain it to you.”


For further information about Absorbent Minds Montessori Early Education, visit www.absorbentmindsmontessori.com.au


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