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Should nurseries bite the bullet and stop banning children from playing with guns? Judith Napier observes one that did, with some surprising results

Ever wondered what it takes to be a Montessori teacher? There's a chance to find out this month when Montessori Centre International (MCI), one of the movement's London-based training centres, and a host of Montessori establishments around the country throw open their doors to the public.

The Healthcall Discovery Centre was set up in Cardiff in September 1997 by Dr Amanda Kirby, a GP whose son Andrew had been diagnosed as having dyspraxia, sometimes described as the 'clumsy child syndrome'. She was frustrated with the attitudes of the professionals during her ten or 11 years of struggling to find a diagnosis for Andrew, and this led to her founding the centre.

Children are being deprived of a good nursery education and facing too much academic pressure, says Anne Wiltsher

It is a warm morning in late April and most of the children are out in the nursery school's extensive outdoor area. A wide range of activities is going on, including a story-reading session by a parent in the grass amphitheatre, a dramatic enactment of the story of 'The Three Little Pigs' and a game of skill involving hitting balls suspended from the classroom verandahs.

It is impossible to miss the references to observation and assessment in the Early Learning Goals document. 'Practitioners must be able to observe and respond appropriately to children' and are required to identify 'the progress and future learning needs of children through observations which are evaluated, recorded and shared regularly with parents, so that each child's particular needs are met'.

Carers can learn to recognise when a withdrawn child is ready to respond, writes child psychotherapist Juliet Brown

Using persona dolls can help children learn to treat everyone with respect, writes Babette Brown

Behaviourally disturbed children are increasingly subjected to a quick fix of drugs. By Ruth Thomson

Generations ago, when unmarried mothers were ostracised by society, it was not unusual for children to grow up believing their grandmother was their mother and their birth mother was a sister.

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