Montessori nurseries see surge in interest due to 'Prince George effect'
Interest in Montessori nurseries has soared thanks to the Prince George effect, with parents keen on signing up their children to the same education as the future king.
The Maria Montessori Institute in London, which runs a Montessori teacher training centre and a number of schools, say they have been inundated with calls from parents wanting their youngsters to go to a Montessori nursery since it was confirmed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's son would be attending one.
Two-year-old George had a happy first session at the W estacre Montessori School near William and Kate's country mansion, Anmer Hall, in Norfolk earlier this month and is now enrolled there a few days a week.
Louise Livingston, director of training at the Maria Montessori Institute, told the Press Association: "When it was announced, our phones were ringing off the hook with people asking whether we had space in our nurseries."
She added: "We're still getting lots of calls from parents. Hopefully Charlotte will go there too."
In Bristol, The Clifton Children's House Montessori School said they had experienced a marked jump in enquiries.
Mary Lazo, manager of the nursery, which cares for 24 children aged between two-and-a-half and five years old, said: "There's definitely been an increase in interest - about double the amount.
"One person who was looking around said they were glad they got their visit in early because of Prince George.
"We've got a waiting list but people are booking for further ahead. I think Prince George attending a Montessori nursery is raising the profile. People are starting to wonder what the approach is about."
Stephen Tommis, chief executive of the Montessori St Nicholas charity, said the George effect - when whatever the prince wears or uses becomes an instant hit - has led to more curiosity over the Montessori approach.
"The owners I've spoken to say there's been an upturn in inquiries - but it's difficult to quantify," Dr Tommis said.
There are around 700 Montessori nurseries in the UK - many of which are independent and run by a variety of different organisations.
He added: "I think parents with very young children are a little curious. Many people have heard of Montessori but they don't know what it means and they're thinking 'If the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have chosen a Montessori nursery, they have for a good reason'. It's increased curiosity."
He added: "Anything to do with William and Kate has a knock-on effect.
"William and Harry went to a Montessori nursery - Diana chose a Montessori for them. It's about continuity. William has chosen it for his son. His experience must have been a positive one."
Montessori is an approach to educating children developed by the Italian educator Maria Montessori.
It is founded on the belief that within each person is untapped potential that needs a fertile environment. It aims to develop the whole child naturally through a child-centred learning approach, with the period from birth to age six seen as the time when youngsters have the greatest capacity to learn.
William and Prince Harry were taught at a Montessori nursery at Mrs Mynors School in west London.
Diana, Princess of Wales, had first-hand experience of the Montessori teaching method. She worked at the Young England Kindergarten in Pimlico, central London, which used the system.