The Early Childhood Program, for ages 3 to 6 years old, allows the child to focus upon ordering their environment and to become familiar with academic concepts through concrete manipulation. A love of learning results which prepares the child for a lifetime of education.

The Early Childhood classroom is divided into several different areas (Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math, and Culture) and within these areas, the exercises are logically organized from simple idea to the complex, and from concrete to the abstract. Each area has hands-on materials which are geometrically shaped, simply designed, aesthetic, and suitable for small hands. Interaction with these high-quality materials, rewards the child with a range of sensorial experiences.

Practical Life
The Practical Life exercises enable the children to learn self-control, both mental and physical. The children prepare snacks, scrub tables, learn how to buckle, snap, tie, zip, pour liquids, water plants, and, in general, take care of themselves, their environment, and each other. The Practical Life exercises appeal to the child's natural desire for independence and order at this age.

We have an extensive number of sensorial materials that help to enhance the child's understanding of his or her physical environment through manipulation of materials which isolate certain aspects of that environment, such as color, sound, taste, smell, touch and spatial relationships.

The Language work of the child begins at birth — the child hears the spoken language and begins the development necessary for assimilation. Young children learn through movement, and the sandpaper letters help them learn the phonetic sounds of the alphabet not only through sight but through touch. Reading and writing are complex skills which are built upon all the experiences of the young child and which usually occur naturally and spontaneously in the Montessori environment.

The use of manipulative materials enables the child to internalize concepts of numbers, symbols, sequence, operations and memorization of basic facts.

Children are introduced to the basics of geography, history, life sciences, earth sciences, music, art and movement.

Early Childhood Staff

Ms. Valerie

Co-Founder, Director of Education, Early Childhood Lead Teacher

Ms. Valerie describes herself as a "passionate lifelong Montessorian." The decision to embark on her Montessori journey was made more than 30 years ago and she values it as one of her greatest life changing decisions. A pioneer in her time, Valerie brought the Early Childhood Program to Taylorsville, Utah in 1990 when she co-founded Montessori Children 's Club. Then, in 1998, along with her husband and sweetheart, she co-founded Montessori at Riverton, which, continuing in her legacy, introduced the Elementary and Middle School Programs to Northern Utah setting the school apart as being one of two Montessori centers to offer the upper levels of education in the state. Always celebrating opportunities to bring Montessori to children, North Dakota and its recent population influx inspired her decision to sell the school in Utah and head north. We welcome her strong voice in advocacy for children and education, and her passion to teach Montessori to this area.

Ms. Valerie holds a Montessori certificate in the Early Childhood and the Elementary 6 - 9 programs through AMS and has been a Lead Teacher in the classroom at each level of Montessori, from Toddlers to Middle School. She has served on several boards, including the Coalition for Private Schools, Vouchers for Choice, and the Utah Montessori Council where she has served as President for the last seven years. In 2007, Ms. Valerie co-founded a MACTE (Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education) accredited training center through The Institute for Guided Studies. A strong believer in giving back to the community, Ms. Valerie often is seen sharing her gifts as a guest speaker and presenter at Montessori conferences.
Ms. Valerie is the mother of six children and has 23 grandchildren. She enjoys reading, traveling, and snow skiing.

Ms. Melissa

Early Childhood Assistant Teacher
A former Montessori student, Ms. Melissa graduated high school in Bigfork, MT, then instantly jumped on the opportunity to live in and travel much of western Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean where she reveled in the beauty that differing people and cultures bring to life.  Ten years later, home and establishing roots called her back to the United States where she met and married her husband, Kelly.  Blessed with the opportunity to be the parents of four young boys, one of which born with Down syndrome, her passion for children and their right to a happy, healthy life grew exponentially and led to the creation of Grasslands Montessori Academy.  Currently enrolled in a Montessori Early Childhood Teacher Training course and enjoying her internship year in the classroom, Ms. Melissa looks forward to continuing her education in child development and advocacy with a firm belief that people can make a difference and that children have a voice which deserves to be heard.  Her hobbies include cooking, mountain biking, football season (Go Broncos!), and playing with her children.

Ms. Irina

Early Childhood Assistant Teacher

Ms. Missi

Early Childhood Paraprofessional

Ms. Melissa, or as your children call her, Ms. Missi, has dedicated her life to the education and well being of children. Raised her whole life as a country girl in SW North Dakota, she is the oldest of 4 children. While attending Regent HS, she found her love of music and had decided she would have loved to pursue a career as a secondary music teacher, with the dream of one day conducting her own orchestra at Carnegie Hall in NYC. But as life sometimes has it, she gave birth to her son, now 18 and her daughter, now 17. Which at that point had poured her whole self into her children instead of pursuing her career.
After many years of being a stay at home mom, she was offered the opportunity to become a paraprofessional in her children's high school. She took  the job in a heartbeat, knowing she had finally been given the chance to live another dream, working with children.  Now, her passion has only grown with the great opportunity of working alongside such wonderful women at Grasslands Montessori.  Melissa is over joyed to watch each one of your children grow, finding it to be one of the greatest gifts!