When Kerikeri early childhood teachers Jessica Anderson-Smith and Annie Tikaram discovered they were both Montessori teachers, they knew they wanted to open a centre together.
On Monday they opened Montessori Children's House Kerikeri - the first centre in Kerikeri and the only in Northland which follows the Montessori philosophy - an education method developed in the 1900s by Dr Maria Montessori.
"I just thought that not having Montessori - which is so powerful with the life skills and how we let the children lead their own learning - there was a need for that education system in Kerikeri," Tikaram said.
Anderson-Smith started teaching in her first Montessori school in 2007, while Tikaram has worked in the ECE profession for 12 years and has trained in the Montessori method.
Anderson-Smith said the biggest difference between mainstream early childhood education and the Montessori method was that everything was set up for the child.
"All our furniture is child-sized, all the material is there on the shelf ready for them to choose. So they're not waiting for a teacher to set something up on a table for them. It's all geared towards empowering the child and independence - they learn a lot of life skills at Montessori."
The pair said this had huge benefits for the children.
"The thing that parents comment on the most is how independent their child is. In a Montessori they'll learn how to make their own morning tea, they'll learn how to prepare a snack for themselves and how to clean up after themselves and return the materials to the shelf," Anderson-Smith said.
The centre is licensed for 44 children and there are currently 15 enrolled.
Tikaram said parents of children enrolled said they had been looking for something like the Montessori Children's House.
"We've got parents who come and they're gobsmacked their children are preparing their own snacks and being so respectful. They were just in awe that after two days of being here the children so seamlessly started doing things the Montessori way without constantly being told by adults."