Sidewalk's End Montessori School Best Of

Best Of 2014: Child Day Care

"Being 'big man on campus' is a pretty cool thing when you're 5 or 6," says educator Lynne Casebeer, and she would know. The Sidewalk's End preschool co-owner — who holds a bachelor's in psychology, an early childhood credential from the American Montessori Society, and is herself a mom — oversees classrooms where kids from ages 3 to 6 all learn together in "a structured environment that allows children to have freedom within that structure." Casebeer and fellow Colorado native Grace Blea-Nunez co-founded Sidewalk's End back in 2010. The school's name comes from a Shel Silverstein poem, while its teaching method draws upon an approach developed more than a century ago by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori. "There's a lot of movement involvement," explains Casebeer, "so they're able to use their entire body when learning numbers, shape concepts, and even pre-reading skills." So how is it that such a time-honored teaching methodology, one that's been around long enough to shape the lives of luminaries from Helen Keller to Jeff Bezos, can still seem so forward-looking today? "This is an approach that's going to work whether it's 1900 or 2014," says Casebeer, "because our brains haven't changed as fast as society has." — Bill Forman

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