Wonders Years Montessori School, Union, has relocated and expanded into a space over three times its former size.

Owner and lead teacher Trisha Van Weelden moved the school to 102 Union Plaza Drive, off of East Independence Drive behind the Pasta House Restaurant.

The school relocated from a home on Main Street, Union, and the teaching area expanded to 2,800 square feet.

There will be an open house Sunday, Sept. 15, from 1-3 p.m.

Montessori schools are based on the philosophies of an Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori and operations vary from traditional daycares.

Inside Wonders Years there is a kitchen, restaurant, grocery store and other places that children experience during the day.

“We are teaching them concepts they can use in everyday life,” Van Weelden said.

As a part of the curriculum, children can practice washing dishes, or even visiting the grocery store.

“We use all real materials,” she added. “If they are pouring water, we use ceramic or glass.”

She said it is important to use natural materials, opting for wooden items instead of plastic.

But there is much more to the school, which also utilizes sensory learning tools, including colorful interactive maps, and counting beads to teach children in a variety of subject areas.

“We work to sharpen their motor skills with objects that are different shapes and sizes, textures and colors,” Van Weelden said.

Montessori schools are different from daycares or schools because the children are encouraged to work in areas that are engaging to them.

Children choose what type of structured activities they participate in, while teachers observe.

While observing the children, teachers assess the needs of each child.

“The school is more student based than teacher based,” Van Weelden said.

The independent learning environment encourages psychological growth among the children, and tests indicate that many Montessori students read at higher levels than other students their ages, she noted.

At the school, there are three teachers — Van Weelden, Ashley Mueller and Angela Grassi.

There is an art area where students can be creative, and there soon will be music lessons, Spanish instruction and yoga taught at the school.

Plans also call for a cooking class, Van Weelden said.

The school features an outdoor play area that is fenced and locked.

There are 15 students enrolled in the school and there is space for up to 35 children.

Van Weelden has a degree in elementary education from Southeast Missouri State University and she is certified to teach kindergarten. She taught second and third grade for a total of nine years at Gerald Elementary.

There is not a kindergarten class at the school now, but there may be a kindergarten curriculum introduced next school year.

There also is a nursery for infants.

For more information, people may call the school at 636-744-1447, or 636-221-1947.

The school is in session Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. People also can visit the website for some basic information at wonderyearsmontessori.com.