Perham Montessori preschool opening in 2022

The school will be available for 10 neurotypical children and five children with a provider.

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The Montessori curriculum includes practical life and sensorial aspects along with literature, mathematics and culture and science (cosmic education). With books like these, cosmic education focuses on the interconnectedness of all things, including people, plants and animals. Photo courtesy Empowering Kids, 2021

“If you were to open your own school, what type of school would you open?” For Empowering Kids , the answer became a Montessori school. The Montessori preschool is an addition to their growing list of services for children with social challenges such as autism and ADHD.

The school will be available for 10 neurotypical children and five children with a provider. As Empowering Kids prepares to move into the HUB in fall 2021, the school will become part of their space with registration opening in June 2022.

What is the Montessori model?

Children from three to six years old will learn from one another with six different curriculums to help social, emotional, physical and cognitive development. Students move between the curriculums based on their interests rather than a set schedule for the day. As a way of providing a comfortable environment, students begin with practical life skills like sweeping and hanging up clothes, as program coordinator and Montessori school teacher Chelsey Hendrickx described.


Empowering Kids program specialist Chelsey Hendrickx (left) will be the Montessori preschool teacher. She has a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education, a master’s in Curriculum and Instruction and taught kindergarten for four years. (RosaLin Alcoser / FOCUS)

Students can then learn as they become used to the environment, like the Early Intensive Developmental Behavioral Intervention program that includes the Floortime modality to build social communication and play skills. People with autism have a difficult time with abstract thought, pretend play and following people’s schedules, as director Tiffany Tobkin said.

“The flexibility and core components and foundation that build at Montessori allow us to utilize our therapy to join them in their world and then slowly develop our relationship, understand their individual differences and increase their development to create this shared world which then they can develop meaning and learn about their environment and engage socially with others,” Tobkin said.

Montessori also has sensorial lessons like smelling and hearing bottles; language arts where students move through three different levels; mathematics with “extremely visual” materials; and culture and science lessons that highlight how interdependent people, plants and animals across the world are, according to Hendrickx.

“All of the materials are really made beautifully because when something’s beautiful, what does a person do? They want to touch it and look at it and hold it. And everything is made child-size, so it’s meant for their smaller hands,” Hendrickx said.

A selection of the sensorial items that help develop the five senses through lessons and activities. Photo courtesy Empowering Kids, 2021

Students are encouraged to learn on their own, such as seeing the mistakes in their work, with teachers as more of a guide as students need support.


In their new location at the HUB, students will also have access to the calm down space, snoozelium and the sensory gym for a break. Hendrickx and Tobkin said the Montessori preschool offers another opportunity for families in Perham in addition to Perham Public Schools, St. Henry’s and St. Paul’s.

“The more opportunities that we can have families to find what fits their needs and their wants the better it is just for our community and our kids in general,” Tobkin said.

Watch for future information on open houses for the Montessori preschool. The Boys and Girls Club and Empowering Kids are also partnering on a joint capital campaign for furnishings, programming, playground equipment and technology at the HUB.

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Tiffany Tobkin portrait

Rebecca Mitchell started as a Digital Content Producer for the Post Bulletin in August 2022. She specializes in feature reporting as well as enhancing online articles. Readers can reach Rebecca at 507-285-7681 or
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