The popular crèche reopens with a new owner

AN Italian has taken over a well-established children’s nursery in Carleton – turned it into a Montessori nursery and appointed a top chef as menu advisor.

Maria Cristina Branchetti read about a fundraising event in the Craven Herald in memory of former owner of The Rocking Horse Nursery, Jackie Asquith, who ran the nursery for over 20 years and sadly passed away at the beginning of last year.

Maria Cristina approached Jackie’s husband Brian with a view to taking over the nursery, he agreed, and after a few months of refurbishing the premises Maria has now reopened the nursery as Rocking Horse Montessori Nursery – keeping the name that Jackie gave him.

Maria Cristina, who lives in Skipton with her partner, has a strong background in Montessori – a system of education for children developed by Italian doctor Maria Montessori which seeks to develop natural interests and activities rather than formal teaching methods .

She said: ‘It took several months and a lot of effort to renovate the crèche – I keep the name as a continuation of Jackie’s work, and it is now a Montessori crèche. Ofsted came for an inspection two weeks ago and I am delighted to say that we are now fully registered and ready to open.

Maria Cristina began her training 20 years ago in an international Montessori and Reggio Emilia-inspired nursery in Rome where she obtained her NVQ level 3 in Early Childhood and Education.

Since then, she has obtained a degree in educational sciences and gained valuable experience working with children in different countries.

She is currently completing a Masters in Education with Montessori at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge.

She says the nursery’s rural setting with outdoor seating areas fits well with Montessori methods.

“The modern, purpose-built nursery features a lovely garden with outdoor play areas where children can enjoy learning experiences appropriate to their age and developmental stage while birds, rabbits and squirrels play hide and seek among the century-old trees nearby.

“The natural surroundings continue into the nursery’s open-plan interior with houseplants, natural materials, and plenty of light from its large windows.”

Food is sourced locally where possible and the menu advisor is a local five-star Italian chef and restaurateur who has developed his knowledge of child nutrition through a research collaboration with the University of Manchester .

Babies and children from five months to five years old are welcome and the crèche is open all year round, from 8 am to 5.30 pm, with extended hours on request.

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Dora W. Clawson