Introducing The Toddler Tree School
My name is Fadekemi Olumide-Aluko. I am first and foremost a woman with a God-ordained purpose in life. I am also a mother of two, a lawyer turned passionate educator, a school head and an author. I have a Bachelors degree in Law from the University of Ibadan, an International Diploma in Montessori Early Years Education from the College of Modern Montessori, SA and a distinction-graded Masters degree in International Educational Management from the University of Leeds, UK.
What is the name of the School and when was it founded?
We are known as the Toddler Tree. Trees symbolize life and growth and this informed the choice of our name. At the Toddler Tree, we are deeply committed to growing and nurturing young minds. We opened for business in September 2010. Prior to that, the Toddler Tree had been running as a small firm of educational consultants offering primarily teacher training services to other schools. I have been a teacher trainer myself for about 10 years now.
Where is the school located?
We are situated at 58 Adekunle Fajuyi Way, off Ladipo Bateye Street in GRA Ikeja.
Please give details of your staff/administration?
The Toddler Tree team comprises administrative and academic arms both of which I currently head. If you visit the school, you will quickly pick up on the fact that we run a very tight administrative ship in order to ensure we maintain very high standards of quality regarding our services and facilities. Our administrative staff work very hard to ensure that the school maintains its lovely pristine appearance and that things run smoothly. To achieve this takes pure hard work, but because we are professional, we make it look easy (lol). All our class teachers have internationally accredited qualifications in early years education and are very dedicated to providing an excellent learning environment for our children. I have always been a very fussy mother when it comes to providing my own children with the right external influences (I still am!), and it is with this same attitude that I carefully put together a formidable teaching team – people that have a natural love for children, are well-spoken/exposed, have a passion for teaching and have a highly professional approach to their job. I also teach in the mornings and perform my head-of-school duties in the afternoons.
Ratio of kids to teachers?
5 to 1 for the toddler class (18 months to 2 years) and 7 to 1 for the juniors class (2 to 4 years) – these class sizes are even smaller than internationally recommended standards.
Number of children in the school and the capacity?
We opened just a few months ago and our numbers are still growing, but I believe we will quickly reach capacity DV when parents begin to realize that we’ve raised the bar for nursery education in the city. Regarding capacity, I feel very strongly against overcrowding nursery schools which is what many establishments do these days to maximize profits. In spite of the fact we have very large grounds, we have pegged our maximum student capacity at 40-45 in order that each child may enjoy a higher level of care and attention which in turn leads to a much richer learning experience.
What age range are your students? And classes?
We take in children from between 15 and 18 months and nurture them till they leave us for primary school from around age 4. We have 3 main classes – 2 are fully equipped Montessori classes and the 3rd is run using the Early Years Foundation Stage under the English National Curriculum (i.e. British).
What is the curriculum/teaching methodology?
The main curriculum employed at the Toddler Tree is the Montessori system. Research has proven that the Montessori method remains the best method of educating young children because of its strong emphasis on experiential learning – i.e. learning by doing. Because it is a very hands-on, material-rich method with emphasis on creating real experiences where the children can use what they learn, children of a diverse range of abilities tend to thrive and excel in Montessori schools. However, because we know that there is a very limited number of Montessori primary schools in Nigeria, we also employ the English National Curriculum, particularly at the end stage of children’s stay with us, in order that they may be more than adequately prepared for the teaching styles they are likely to meet when they move on to primary school.
Extra-curricular activities available? School Hours and any after school services offered?
We currently run an afterschool service from 1.30pm to 4.30pm. During these hours, I personally offer piano lessons to willing students (I have qualifications from the Royal School of Music in England on Piano). We also take the children on cooking skills. We also teach languages, both as part of the formal curriculum and during after-school, as we know from research that the early years provide the best time to introduce children to various languages. This year, we are teaching ‘Yoruba’ and next year, we hope to have a external specialist take the children on French. We will also be offering creative dance and a football club as our numbers grow. We also have future plans to build a toddlers’ swimming pool after which we will be offering daily swimming classes.
What is the admission process? deadline? Is it rolling?
The admission process starts with either parent paying a visit to the school. It is important for parents to get a good feel of the school ethos first before deciding on it for their child. Likewise, the school is also particularly interested in partnering with parents who have a genuine passion for their young children’s education and to decipher this, we would need to chat with the parents. An interested parent then purchases a registration form/school prospectus form. The parent is notified as to availability of a place for their child. On returning the form, a child information form is then passed on to the parents to fill providing detailed information on their child. This enables us have a deeper understanding of the child even before he/she comes in to the centre. (Applications can come in any time of the year, but new children will attend the school usually at the start of any of the 3 terms, i.e. in January, April and September.)
Tuition? Is there a payment plan for parents?
Currently tuition is paid in the first week of each term and there are 3 terms each year. There is currently no other payment plan but we are very agreeable to finding workable solutions for parents who may have difficulty meeting up with the basic financial requirements.
How do you assess students’ progress?
The Montessori system is high individualized by nature. A Montessori teacher is trained to take each child as an individual and map out a separate development plan for him/her. There are curriculum benchmarks which help us keep track of how quickly or otherwise each child is progressing. At weekly meetings, each child is discussed individually and all hands/minds are on deck to help each child reach his/her highest potential.
We do not employ any form of corporal punishment at the Toddler Tree and spanking of any kind is strictly prohibited. Regarding discipline, our motto at the Toddler Tree is to lead by example and I am constantly reminding my staff that they must model the very kind of behavior they wish to see in our children. In addition, we are constantly having discussions and presentations with our children about conduct and good manners. We may also have cause to sometimes send a child to the ‘corner for naughty behavior’ for a few minutes to rethink his/her conduct. We find that with these measures, discipline is not a problem at all.
Do you offer a school bus service?
Currently, we do not have a bus service but it is in the pipelines for the future.
What should parents be looking for to decide if your school would work for them/their children?
My response to this question would be the same for my school as with any other school a parent may want to take their child. You need to examine the culture/ethos of the school and compare it with your own ideals – do they match? You need to consider transportation logistics – how convenient will it be for you and if it is not very convenient, would you be willing to suffer some inconvenience for a better quality of education for your child? You need to find out if the school curriculum is one that you feel your child will thrive under – for e.g. if you have a child with special needs, you’d need to know that this special need will be attended to professionally. You need to get a sample of the style of the school’s leadership and also speak with one or two of the teachers. It is important to get a feel of the kind of people who will be looking after your child – what is their approach to teaching? How well do they look and speak? You don’t want your child coming home with negative colloquialisms they never used before! You need to have access to view the internal premises – are the classrooms attractive and orderly? Are the toilets clean? I always recommend parents’ first visit to their prospective school should be when they’re not expected, though during reasonable hours, e.g. after-school hours, say 2 to 4pm (Lol! Some of my colleagues may not like my last comment, but this is when you get to see a school as it really operates and not when it is window dressed for you!)
How is your school preparing children for learning and operating in the 21st century?
The world is smaller today than ever before and this fact is not lost on us at the Toddler Tree. We are an international school and our perspective here is very global – we see ourselves preparing our children, who are future adults for life in the global village. We have computers in the classroom for the children’s use and we are constantly presenting knowledge to the children from a global perspective. Education is, I believe, an under-utilized but very important key for engendering a deeper respect and collaboration among people of different cultures and faiths. We welcome children of diverse cultures and beliefs. We celebrate our differences at the Toddler Tree and teach our children to be proud of their unique cultures whilst being respectful of others.
Any other information you would like to share?
Our motto at the Toddler Tree is the Latin phrase ‘Ama Scholam Ama Vitam’ which translates to English to mean ‘love school love life’. Our primary aim at the Toddler Tree is to infuse in our children an enthusiasm for learning which translates and grows into a love for life in general. Parents often underestimate the importance of qualitative pre-school education which research continues to confirm is a crucial foundation-laying stage. At the Toddler Tree, we believe if children can acquire the right educational skills during the early years, it sets them up for success in future levels of learning.
How do we contact you for more information? Or to schedule a visit to the school?
Anyone wishing to get in touch with us should please either send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone us on 0803 086 6897, 0802 398 6430 or (01) 842 4951. You can also visit our website on www.thetoddlertree.com .