Montessori teachers in Ireland are seeing an increase in the number of children attending preschool.

Over 300 people from all over the country attended the St Nicholas Montessori Society's annual meeting in Dún Laoghaire today.

While there are training courses in different parts of the country, it is here in Dún Laoghaire that mature students can undertake a part time course which will qualify them to become a Montessori teacher. The St Nicholas Society also has the distinction of running the only full cycle Montessori schools in the country.

The Montessori method of preschool education requires specific educational equipment, and the cost associated with these games and toys is higher than the average playschool. Despite this the numbers of preschools are growing, says teacher Sighle Fitzgerald.

The difference is their philosophy, and not just the learning tools, maintains Bernadette Burns, as

It is important that you see the child as an individual.

Most of the equipment is bought in from abroad at the moment. The St Nicholas Society have tried to source it in Ireland, but have not been successful as they would like to date. Their commitment to the Montessori philosophy means that,

We wouldn't have one piece of plastic in Montessori schools, because it doesn't really do justice to what she began.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 31 May 1982. The reporter is Conall Ó Móráin.