Many children’s first exposure to school is at earliest preschool, but for the past five years Inspire Kids Montessori (IKM) has been offering access to early childhood education for those as young as infants. As one of the few providers of early childhood education, IKM has grown in popularity every year since its inception on June of 2010.
Having already moved from its first location on Agave Road to a larger location in 2013 after experiencing regular increases in enrollment for three consecutive years, at the start of next year they are planning on adding a third class to their primary program, thus reaching their maximum capacity at their current location on Chandler Boulevard.
The new class will be a part of their primary program that begins serving children at 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 years old and shuttles them from their toddlerhood all the way through preschool and kindergarten. The children are placed in the programs not entirely based on age as much as ability, and while the other programs they offer that cater to younger children in their first couple years of development have grown, it is the primary program that has attracted the most attention.
“The primary program is our bread and butter,” said Diana Darmawastika, director of IKM. “This age represents some formative years because during this period all of their brain synapses need to be stimulated to make them grow and it is when many children are beginning to develop more complex language skills.”
Most of all, said Darmawastika, it is an age where it is vital to begin encouraging children to be “independent and confident.”
The facility IKM is currently housed in was built to house around 100 students – the school currently has an enrollment of about 80 students with this new class adding an additional 24 students, meaning that with this new addition they would have fully reached their limit. This growth is a far cry from when Darmawastika first introduced her vision for early childhood education to Ahwatukee in 2010.
“Five years ago when we started the school at Ray and 44th Street it was during the economic downturn and I was looking for a way to help create jobs in the community while also allowing me to pursue my passion for the Montessori method of teaching, which is a passion I have had since I became a mother,” she said. “The school started out with four students and only two staff, and every year we have grown one class.”
The Montessori philosophy is a method of education that is centered around hands-on and self-directed learning that emphasizes giving children choices while still being directed by a specific curriculum. As Darmawastika put it, “We allow the children to spend as much time as they want in finding what interests them and allowing them to pursue those interests.”
Yet the academic portion of IKM is only a part of the equation with the development of healthy social and emotional skills playing a key role in the goals of the program, particularly for children of this age.
“These skills will allow them to be more confident and independent when they move on to preschool, allowing them to excel early on and having a cumulatively positive effect on their academic and social progress,” said Darmawastika, adding “the academic portion in this program goes hand in hand with the social skills we teach and encourage.”
There was no mention of an intent to move to a larger location after this, however, Darmawastika said that she would very much like to bring Inspire Kids Montessori to new communities beyond Ahwatukee.
“I would like to bring my model and curriculum into other areas in the Valley, whether that be Gilbert or Queen Creek, I don’t know yet, but it is something that I would like to offer to more cities.”
For more information or to schedule a tour, call 480-659-9402 or visit inspirekidsmontessori.com.
• Contact writer: 480-898-7914 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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