Learning the Montessori way

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MILTON, Ga. – There are many ways to teach children. One that is growing in popularity is the Montessori school.

One such school is Red Apple Montessori, on Bethany Bend in Milton. Biju Eappen, the owner, said the creators of Google and Amazon went to Montessori schools when they were little. Montessori schools often cater to very young children.

“It’s a different way, but the in the long run, it helps a lot,” Eappen said. “It’s not like traditional schools. Teachers don’t tell the kids what to do. The kids learn what they want. There is a lot of freedom in it.”

Older students can teach younger students their lessons. This helps the younger students learn from their peers and it also helps solidify the lesson in the older students.

“To me, it’s the only way to educate the first six years in life,” Eappen said. “Some parents put their children in daycare, but why? Why shouldn’t they learn something while they are there?”

Red Apple is a small school – it has about 50 students. It has grown every year since it opened in 2008 and has had to expand its site twice, showing how popular Montessori schools are becoming.

Red Apple is run by Leigh Gregory, the director and a 20-year veteran of Montessori schools.

The students learn via hands-on lessons, moving from concrete to abstract learning as the student gets older, she said.

“Every child starts with a lesson that interests he or she, and we build on that,” Gregory said.

Montessori lessons create a love of learning, she said. As the child grows, that love of learning and discovery will stay with the child.

“Parents don’t have to push as much,” she said. “The students already want to push themselves.”

In a traditional learning environment, the class is geared toward the middle students – those neither excelling nor falling behind – so that the majority of students learn the same, but the advanced students are pulled back while those falling behind never catch up.

By mixing ages and abilities, Gregory said students are able to work at their own pace, and there is no limit to how much they can learn or how much they can achieve.

“They are not bored and always have something more for them to do. There is no one telling them they cannot do anything,” she said.

In choosing a Montessori school, Gregory said it was important for parents to know as much as they can about the school. That includes learning what associations have accredited the school to be Montessori official. She said many schools often simply take the name “Montessori” without going through a certification process.

There are two certification agencies – the American Montessori Society (AMS) and the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI).

“Anyone interested in Montessori should investigate and shop around,” Gregory said.

For more about Red Apple Montessori, visit them online at www.redapplemontessori.com.

For information on the American Montessori Society (AMS), go to http://amshq.org. For more on the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) visit https://www.montessori-ami.org.

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