By Kate Quesada

Education is a family business at Bloomingdale Children’s House, a Brandon school providing a Montessori based education to children from six months to third grade.

Owner Terjiana Waggoner-Montalvo’s mother Juliette Johnson, who has more than 40 years experience in Montessori education, and step-father Tim Johnson are both lead teachers at the school which opened its doors in September 2011. Classes are set up by age group and all lead teachers have at least one Montessori training certificate.

“We encourage everyone to become familiar with Dr. Maria Montessori’s work,” said Waggoner-Montalvo, who currently teaches the VPK class and is pursuing a certification for lower elementary education. “She believed that children wished to be taught to do things for themselves, and that all education is self-education.”

The school’s mission is to help every child love to learn and the staff at Bloomingdale Children’s House do this by offering their students many different ways to grow academically and personally throughout the school day.

“In our school we have animals, including presently ducks, chickens, rabbits, fish, sugar gliders, a hamster and a boa constrictor,” said Waggoner-Montalvo. “We also have gopher tortoises that live around the grounds and have our classrooms surrounding a beautiful courtyard with bottle brush trees which are home to squirrels, many birds, especially cardinals, and butterflies.”

The school, which currently has 65 students, allows the children to plant, water and feed their flower and vegetable gardens.

“Our outdoor environment is very much an extension of our indoor environment,” said Waggoner-Montalvo. “We love for the children to be outside and we teach them how to ride scooters and roller blade.”

Students can also take harp and piano lessons, art classes, Tumble Bus, Soccer Shots, music classes, cooking classes and dance weekly.

Full day or part-time schedules are available and summer programs are offered with different themes each year.

Bloomingdale Children’s House is located at 3920 S. Kings Ave. in Brandon. For more information, call 685-0009 or visit www.bloomingdalechildrenshouse.com.