New Montessori preschool opens this September

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AUBURN – The Twin Cities’ first Montessori preschool will open in mid-September in the building occupied by Toddle Inn near BJ’s on Mount Auburn Avenue.

The Auburn Children’s Home will be private and nonprofit. It will provide day care and early childhood education for children ages 6 weeks to 6 years, with an emphasis on education, said the school’s owner, Dr. Victorija Peistrup.

There’s much that toddlers, babies and infants can learn if provided the right environment, she said. Babies “are not just blobs; they interact.”

Peistrup lives in Norway and is an anesthesiologist at Central Maine Medical Center. Her children attended a Montessori school in Oxford Hills founded by her and her husband, Daniel Peistrup, in 2005.

When their children were screened for kindergarten in public school, both tested on a first-grade level. Victorija Peistrup attributed that to their early-childhood program.

She now wants to “do something good” for Lewiston-Auburn parents by opening a Montessori school here.

The cost varies depending on the child’s age and how often a child is at the school, Peistrup said. Some attend part-time. The typical cost for a toddler who attends full time is $600 a month.

The Montessori way

Montessori schools have been in the United States for about 100 years, and are growing in Maine, Peistrup said. The pre-schools are based on the philosophy of Dr. Maria Montessori, Italy’s first woman physician who graduated from the University of Rome in 1896.

A pediatrician, Montessori was fascinated by how children learn and became a pioneer in child development and psychology. While working with 60 young children of working families in 1906, she began to notice how the children would absorb knowledge almost effortlessly from their surroundings, according to Webster.edu. She felt the children were teaching themselves, which helped inspire her lifelong pursuit of educational reform.

The Montessori method is a hands-on approach to learning that stresses development of a child’s initiative and natural abilities, especially through practical play.

The Auburn Children’s Home will use music, colors and Montessori teaching methods to provide the right environment to help babies and children learn, Peistrup said.

She said the school would support the community by, for example, helping local libraries or supporting child-abuse prevention programs. “We give back.”

The Mount Auburn Avenue building will be a temporary home, she said. The school is working with the Auburn School Department to find a permanent location that eventually will house 100 children, Peistrup said.

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