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Sycamore Montessori school opens to toddlers

SYCAMORE — In the two years that Sycamore resident Kaelyn Evans' oldest daughter, Peyaira, has been a student at the International Montessori Academy, the child has become more sociable.

Evans enrolled five-year-old Peyaira in the Sycamore day care because she is busy pursuing a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering at Northern Illinois University. When International Montessori Academy recently opened its toddler house for children ages six weeks to under three years, Evans enrolled her 15-month-old daughter Aniya as well.

"The learning style is individualized," Evans said. "When younger children aren't ready for a classroom setting, they need individual [attention]."

International Montessori Academy opened its toddler house July 22 at 1715 DeKalb Avenue, Suite 101A in Sycamore, in response to requests from parents with younger children, said Kim Staffey, International Montessori Academy owner and director. The day care already had a location for children in preschool through eighth-grade at 1815 Mediterranean Drive in Sycamore.

International Montessori Academy has a unique individualized teaching style, Staffey said. Staff are trained to sit with a child one-on-one and explore their interests as well as incorporate their interests with other areas in the curriculum, she said.

For example, if a child is interested in butterflies, teachers will add numbers and shapes with butterfly pictures to gain the child's interest.

"It's such an amazing way of teaching," Staffey said. "You really get to meet the children's full potential. We're following their interests and teaching them in a way where they are engaged and don't realize that they're learning."

The local academy's teaching has become so popular that they expect to have 15 students at the toddler house by the end of the month. The toddler house's capacity is 25 students, Staffey said.

The toddler house is open from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

As for Evans, she hopes her younger daughter will be able to learn as much as her older daughter. At five years old, Peyaira already knows the letters of the alphabet, numbers and how to write her name. Officials at a kindergarten screening told Evans that Peyaira already knows half of the curriculum taught in kindergarten.

However, Peyaira is learning more than just academic skills.

"She used to be shy. If someone called her, she'd hold onto my leg," Evans said. "Now, she's still shy, but she'll actually talk. She's more open to talking to people."

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