Montessori First Steps (1-2)

The very young child has an amazing capacity to absorb language, and an innate need to move and explore to be able to do. As your baby starts to walk and talk, IMS Montessori First Steps supports you and your child on a journey of discovery and accomplishment, guided by a team of Montessori experts who provide an immersive English and Putonghua language environment for your child and support for you too. This bilingual programme is designed to support your family in ensuring the optimal development for your growing toddler.

Learn With Your Child
Bilingual Learning
Building Motor Skills
Practical Life
Parenting Resources

Learning Alongside Your Child

IMS Montessori teachers model Montessori child guidance approaches which nurture growing independence, concentration, and motivation as your child begins to explore, walk and talk, absorbing both languages in the Montessori First Steps environment. Teachers support you in creating a Montessori home to set your child up for a lifetime of success. At the same time, you can meet other like-minded parents – and make friends for life!

Fostering Independence and Determination

“Help me do it myself!”

The Montessori First Steps environment is designed to assist the emerging walker and talker’s budding self-concept and self-esteem, as they actively explore and begin to master skills that allow them to assert their own independence and develop a true sense of joy. 

Practical Parenting Workshops

Each week, parents and caregivers are invited to attend a special workshop around a topic of particular interest to support what you will be learning about in the First Steps session with your child.  

Join in practical presentations and discussions around setting up a snack cart at home, cooking with your little one, making mealtimes engaging, morning routines, reading to your very young child, bedtimes and much more.

Parent Education Resources

And don’t miss IMS own workshops which have been recorded for your use.

“Help Me to Speak by Myself” Dual-Language Learning: English & Chinese Acquisition

Language is a key component of the First Steps experience to take advantage of the desire to acquire language to communicate. At IMS, each environment is led by both an English-speaking and a Putonghua-speaking teacher, who immerse your child in a natural dual-language Montessori environment that gives the gift of early bilingualism.

In the Montessori First Steps environment, your child is immersed in English and Putonghua through spoken vocabulary enrichment exercises, miniature objects and other activities, including art and music & movement activities. Written language begins to be introduced through books using traditional Chinese characters or in English.

“Help Me Move by Myself” Building Gross Motor Skills

The Montessori First Steps environment is designed to meet the physical needs of the 12-24 month old child, in both the size of the furnishings and in the opportunities for motor development, and demonstrates how your family can replicate these in your own home. There is room for accompanying adults, minimal (and very small) furniture, maximum natural lighting, selected art placed at the child’s eye height low on the walls.

Spaces are deliberately laid out in order to challenge the child’s coordination of movement by requiring the child to navigate through the environment to gain a desired object or to join a desired activity.

The Movement Area includes materials to encourage specific gross motor skills, such as pushing a cart or carrying a tray. Fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination are encouraged through activities such as threading, bead stringing, cubes on pegs, spheres on horizontal pegs, puzzles, glueing, folding, and various practical life exercises.

Help Me Do It by Myself” Practical Life: Building Fine Motor Skills & Concentration

Your toddler just wants to be able to do all the wonderful activities that surround them in their daily lives, and the adults – or even better older siblings or friends – are able to do! The Practical Life area in the Montessori First Steps environment includes activities and materials necessary for the toddler to begin to do things independently, and suggestions for parents about how to include your toddler in the important work of your home and family. 

Practical Life exercises emphasise care of self including learning how to: 

  • Grooming: wash hands, brush hair and teeth, take off and put on one’s own clothes and shoes, fold clothes
  • Feed myself, prepare and serve a snack, set and clear the table, wash dishes
  • Sweep
  • Care for plants and animals
  • beginning toileting
  • and more!

“Between the age of a year and a half and two, the child can really walk quite a mile, and he can negotiate difficult places, steep rises, or stairs. But he walks with quite a different aim from our own.


The small child walks to develop his powers; he is building up his being. He goes slowly. He has neither rhythmic step nor goal. But things around him allure him and urge him forward.”

-Dr. Maria Montessori

Elements of the Montessori First Steps Learning Experience

The Signature IMS Dual-Language Montessori First Steps Playgroup (English & Putonghua)

The Montessori First Steps Environment conforms to the physical needs of the children, both in the size of the furnishings and in the opportunities for motor development. There is an observation area for adults, minimal furniture, maximum natural lights, selected art placed low on the walls, and defined spaces to challenge the coordination of movement.

Designed for the emerging walker, learning side-by-side with a parent or caregiver, under the guidance of Montessori teachers in preparation for an IMS Foundation Group at 20 – 24 months.

One English-speaking and One Putonghua-speaking Montessori teacher lead each playgroup

Teacher: child & parent/caregiver ratio is no less than 2 : 8

Montessori First Steps Playgroup Schedule Options

Please click here for a detailed programme overview.

Programme Session Time Fee (2023 -24)
2-Day (Tue/Thu)
8:15 - 9:45 AM
10:45 AM - 12:15 PM
14:30 - 16:00 PM
3-Day (Mon/Wed/Fri)
8:15 - 9:45 AM
10:45 AM - 12:15 PM
Admissions Notes:

There is no assessment for the Montessori First Steps groups.
Parents will be notified of an offer by email once a place becomes available in the preferred time slot.
Once an offer is made, a Place Confirmation Fee (equivalent to two-months programme fees) must be paid to secure the place for the upcoming term.
Two months’ notice is required for withdrawal.
Enrolments in the Programme are rolling during the academic year, and places are offered based on space availability.

Preparation for and Priority of Placement in Next Montessori Step

While not required for admission to IMS, participation provides a strong Montessori foundation which provides a more seamless transition to the Casa dei Bambini classroom.
Children who are enrolled in a Montessori First Steps will be given priority for placement in a preferred IMS Foundation group campus and time. Children will be assisted in separating from their parent/caregiver within the Montessori First Steps environment as they approach 20-22 months, and/or after at least 4 months of attending the programme.

Exclusively At South Horizons Campus
Every journey begins with a single step.

Take your Montessori First Steps with #IMS today!

Our Programmes

  • Toddler Groups (1-3)
    The two-year-old is a little person! The child at this age is becoming fiercely independent and is attempting new things
  • Casa dei Bambini (3 - 6)
    Younger children possess a remarkable ability to absorb the world that surrounds them. At the age from birth to 6 are the most critical period...
  • Elementary (6 - 12)
    At around the age of six, the child’s mind begins to expand beyond the walls of the Casa dei Bambini…
  • Student Life
    The child is the reason we are all here!
  • Extra Curricular Activities
    Complementing and enriching class work in arts, technology, strategic thinking and sports.
  • Outcomes: Montessori Works!
    Montessori prepares children to succeed and prosper no matter what path they choose. Montessori kids make up such a large percentage of the top levels of business and the arts that some joke about a “Montessori Mafia”!

Foundation Groups (2-3)

Experiencing success is critically important to your toddler’s developing self-concept and self-esteem. The very young child craves language to be able to communicate and describe the world. Activities in the bilingual Foundation Groups encourage your child to explore creatively, in a cosy, language-rich and highly interactive environment – the best preparation for learning.

Casa dei Bambini (3-6)

At this age, children absorb information like a sponge! They learn to read and write in English and Chinese, and absorb mathematical and scientific principles. This is the most critical time to nurture your child’s natural curiosity and lay the foundation for all future development. The Casa dei Bambini classroom offers a creative, hands-on, interactive environment where the young child can explore, experiment and succeed.

Elementary (6-12)

The elementary child begins to look to others as a valuable learning resource, and to learn and reinforce knowledge socially. English- and Putonghua- speaking teachers encourage debate, discussion and collaboration in project teams working on things that are critically important to them – from establishing their own business, to writing and performing their own play.

Student Life

The child is the reason we are all here!

Summer Fun

The IMS Summer Fun Programme at Stanley Campus, enriches learning, engage children’s creative minds and gets them moving. Our 6-week summer programme for children 3 – 11 is to be announced.

Outcomes: Montessori Works!

Montessori prepares children to succeed and prosper no matter what path they choose. Montessori kids make up such a large percentage of the top levels of business and the arts that some joke about a “Montessori Mafia”!


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Grace & Courtesy

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Support at Home

Montessori is a way of life. Join IMS’ Matthew Sneyd & Jennifer Yu as we talk with parents about Surviving & Thriving with your preschooler during the global pandemic in a 4-part Workshop series:

• 03:10 Understand the needs of your preschooler
• 05:19 Take advantage of your home to maximise learning
• 06:24 Learning through doing
• 26:55 Activities that will keep your preschooler entertained
• 27:46 How to cope with cabin fever

Setting up little ones for success in daily Routines:
• 02:33 Bedtime
• 18:08 Healthy Eating
• 34:34 Learning to use the Toilet

• 02:23 Toddlers and preschoolers are compelled to touch and grasp everything around them, and are almost always on the move
• 09:30 How do parents safely and constructively support this necessary part of development?

Infusing everyday activities with language that expands vocabulary growth, curiosity and cognitive development:
• 01:04 Using language to set your child up with a positive, proactive growth mindset
• 07:53 The importance of reading to your little one as a predictor of outcomes

Practical Life

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Science And Culture

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Dual-Language in the Classroom

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Chemistry, Biology & Physics

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History & Geography

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Language: English & Chinese

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Motivated Learning

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Why Montessori at IMS

IMS’ passionate teachers guide the child through three successive, developmentally appropriate cycles, spanning 10 years of learning from age 2-12. The opportunity to choose your own activity, to move and work freely within strict ground rules, and to work for long blocks of time without interruption are key to motivated, deep learning.

The Casa dei Bambini and Elementary incorporate mixed-age classrooms, another way in which traditionally Montessori approaches are reflective of the latest research into best practices in education.

Add IMS’ bilingual approach, and your child can enjoy the best of all learning environments!

  • Authentic Montessori
  • Dual-Language
  • Passionate Team
  • Motivated Learning

Authentic Montessori

The Montessori education method was developed over years of research in classrooms, discovering how children learned and developed. The Montessori curriculum is customised to meet the developmental needs of the child each step of the way. Your child has the opportunity to explore their own passions, while being guided to develop the needed skills which sets them up for success later in life!

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  • Maria Montessori
    The Montessori Method for was developed over a hundred years ago by Italian physician and anthropologist, Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952). Dr. Montessori was the first woman in Italy to receive a medical degree and came to be involved with young children in state hospitals.
  • Developmentally Appropriate
    This unique approach embraces children’s curiosity and allows them to learn in a natural way through exploration, experimentation, and collaboration.
  • Individualised & Social
    The highly social atmosphere of the Montessori environment stems from a unique combination of freedom and structure founded on mutual trust. The Montessori curriculum is customised to the unique needs of each individual child and their stage of development.
  • Prepared Environment
    When a child first enters a Montessori environment, they often react with delight because “this is ‘just right’ for me!” Everything is scaled to the child’s size, including furniture, utensils, cleaning implements, and the Montessori materials themselves.
  • Outcomes: Montessori Works!
    Montessori prepares children to succeed and prosper no matter what path they choose. Montessori kids make up such a large percentage of the top levels of business and the arts that some joke about a “Montessori Mafia”!
  • Admissions
    Choosing a school for your child may feel like an overwhelming decision! The good news is that Montessori can make all the difference to your child’s ability to successfully navigate our ever-changing world.


At IMS, the children are completely immersed in a truly dual-language Montessori environment. Each classroom is guided by two teachers, one a Putonghua-speaker and one an English-speaker who exclusively speak their native language to the children. The children are exposed to speaking, listening, reading and writing from the earliest ages in both English and Chinese, very naturally. Children are constantly picking up new vocabulary from their teacher and their peers in both languages.

In the Elementary programme, children attend separate small group Chinese lessons based on their ability. These lessons allow them to learn new vocabulary and skills to reinforce later in their dual-language classroom.

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  • Speak, Read, & Write in Chinese
    IMS is a Dual-Language School, where Chinese culture and language are integrated throughout every aspect of the child’s experience. Every classroom, from Foundation to Upper Elementary, is guided by two teachers, one who always addresses the children in English while the other always speaks Putonghua.
  • Chinese in the Early Years
    The young child craves language to be able to communicate and describe the world. Spoken language is the foundation for all creation of language in the child, and opens the door for all future learning.
  • Chinese STEAM in Elementary
    The Chinese language curriculum in the IMS Elementary Programme is specifically designed to cater to children across a broad spectrum of abilities, including those children who join us in Elementary from other schools.
  • Benefits of Bilingualism
    If you have the gift of bilingualism in your home, we encourage you to pass this on to your child.

Passionate Team

From the very foundation of IMS, every single member of staff has been carefully chosen to ensure this nurturing environment continue, and that each child experiences the same opportunity to grow and develop into their own best self, naturally. Today, our community of teaching staff hails from all corners of the world.

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  • Our Team's Perspective
    The Montessori teacher finds the key to motivate your child to unlock their potential. This unique approach to learning assures discovery and becoming our best self is part of what we do every day.
  • Come Join Us
    Come live and work in Asia’s most dynamic city! IMS provides a fulfilling teaching environment in a supportive and engaged community. With four campuses on Hong Kong Island, IMS is a committed, authentic Montessori Dual-Language school.
  • Commitment to Chinese
    IMS has a deep commitment to enable and support each of our children to become able to speak, read and write in Chinese.
  • Ongoing Professional Development
    This commitment to hiring and training exceptional teachers who are native Putonghua and English speakers.

Motivated Learning

Children are born with the inner directive to meet their own needs and to learn. Regardless of developmental stage, the opportunity to choose your own activity, to move and work freely within the ground rules, and to work for long blocks of time without interruption assures motivated learning, extending curiosity and creativity. This is learning the Montessori way.

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  • Freedom & Discipline
    Freedom means being able to choose what is good for oneself. All people want what is good for themselves, yet freedom also comes with responsibility.
  • Importance of Choice
    Freedom of choice allows children to choose work that they desire.Children learn more and invest themselves more deeply in their work when they are able to make choices.
  • Uninterrupted Work Cycle
    Through years of observation around the world, Dr. Montessori found that when longer stretches of time were available for children to pursue activities according to their interests and work independently, the more work happened.
  • Prepares Children for Success
    Try to imagine what the world will look like 20 years from now. What sorts of jobs are going to be available? What skills will be needed? That is the world that we are preparing our children for today.

“Coming to Montessori, the kids learn at their own pace, they can allow any new learning to sink in, and they absorb the information and internalize it; fully comprehending what they learnt. There is a sense of empowerment in their own education.”

-IMS Parent-
Join Our Free Trial Event
Parent-Child Montessori Experience

Aldrich Bay, Mid-Levels, South Horizons Campus

Come join an IMS Montessori Experience to see how this scientifically designed environment for toddlers 12-30 months old – can nurture your child’s independence, concentration and motivation.

Our English-speaking and Putonghua-speaking Montessori teachers will guide your child during this bilingual immersion experience, while our Curriculum expert answers your questions.