A Montessori school will open in Brainerd this fall.
"We have had parents in Brainerd asking us to open a Montessori school there for over 20 years," said Mary Theresa Anderson, school principal and owner.
The Christian-oriented school will be at Park United Methodist Church, but has no affiliation with a specific denomination. The school will offer preschool and kindergarten classes, as well as a day care for children ages 3 through 5.
"Development in the early years of life is extremely important," said Anderson. "Children begin to develop habits and a self concept of themselves at age 3."
Classes will run from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday. This fall 25 students may enroll. Student tuition is $245 per month.
Parents can also drop their children off any time from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for the full day program. The full day program along with the class is $510 per student per month.
Parents may register at any time. An orientation will be held Aug. 29 through Sept. 1. After the students are enrolled, they will have the opportunity to visit the school a few times to become comfortable with the surroundings. This also will give the teachers a chance to get to know the child to help see where the student's level of learning stands.
Anderson said so far four students have registered and one parent signed up her baby, who will be on a waiting list. For the second year, Anderson said 50 students may enroll and the school will offer a morning and afternoon class.
There will be six teachers on board. Teachers will educate the children individually and have small group activities. Students will learn music, visual arts, geography, oral and written languages and practical life skills, such as washing the dishes and polishing furniture.
The staff will use a language program based on phonics.
"We help the children learn to hear sounds in words and associate sounds with letters," Anderson said.
The students will also learn to be independent and to use their time well. Anderson said this is more beneficial than having teachers telling them what to do.
"The children will have freedom with limits," said Anderson. "We direct them to make good choices in a traditional approach."
There will be a classroom, activity room and family room at the school. In the family room, children will receive more personal care. They also will have more varied activities, such as free play times and more motor activities compared with the classrooms. In the activity room, which will be mainly for full-time children, students will play games.
Anderson hopes parents will help and volunteer their time at the school. Anderson and her husband, Dr. James Anderson, own two other Montessori schools in St. Cloud (1968) Seeand Big Lake (1995) and parents stay involved with school activities.
In the past, some Brainerd students have commuted to the St. Cloud school. Steve and Leslie Hobson brought their son, Zach, to the school for three years when he was younger. Zach is now 12.
"We loved it," said Leslie Hobson. "It's not for everyone. It's self-discipline.
"Try it out and see. The children learn language development, how to be responsible and have a fun time."
Hobson said it was worth having her son in the school and she can see results. She said when the family gets ready to go on vacation, Zach will make a list of things he needs to bring, lays out the items on the bed and then cross the word out. He also loves to cook and to create new things.
Last year Mark and Rhonda Wintheiser brought their two daughters to the school in St. Cloud.
"I like the Montessori school approach," said Rhonda Wintheiser. "I am a home school parent and if I had to choose between home school or Montessori school, I'd choose Montessori."
Wintheiser said her daughters can do things she didn't know they were capable of doing. The girls made maps out of sand, learned geography, mathematics and how to read.
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