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. Marie

Early Childhood Instructor
Ms. Marie is a native of Killdeer, North Dakota where she grew up with many siblings and living on the family farm and ranch. After high school, she continued her education at Dickinson State University and University of Mary in Bismarck and in May 2014 received a Bachelor’s degree in Theology. During her time at University of Mary, Ms. Marie spent a semester in Rome where she took a class on the Montessori Method. Since taking that class, she has been interested in the method and is excited to learn more about Montessori by working at Grasslands Academy.

Ms. Marie’s next endeavor was to participate for two years as a missionary with the Denver non-profit Christ in the City. Her experience as a missionary allowed her to work with the impoverished and mentally disabled, which gave her a passion to work with people and change the world through their flourishing. She hopes to fulfill this passion by helping children flourish at Grasslands Academy.

In her free time Ms. Marie loves to read fiction and philosophy, go horseback riding, play card games with her family, and drink coffee on the front porch.

Ms. Mary

Early Childhood Assistant Teacher
Mary was born and brought up in Mizoram, India. She moved to the US in 2006 after her husband, who at the time was working as a petroleum engineer for Schlumberger, was transferred back to his home country. Once in the U.S., Ms. Mary and her family lived in New Orleans, Louisiana and in Houma, Louisiana for over five years. Then, together they moved to Dickinson, ND. They have lived here about two and a half years now and love everything about it, except the winters. Ms. Mary received her Bachelor’s Degree with Education as her major subject under the North Eastern Hills University. While living in India, Ms. Mary enjoyed working as a Kindergarten teacher for three years. She has also worked at Berg Elementary and Southwest Community High School, here in Dickinson, ND. Ms. Mary learned about Maria Montessori and her methods of teaching while attending high school and again in college. She truly believes what Maria Montessori herself said, “Education is a natural process carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words, but by experiences in the environment”. Ms. Mary has two young boys whom she wanted to have a “freedom to learn”, a meaningful degree of independence, good work habits, self-discipline, and a sense of responsibility. A Montessori Education provides all that for them, and more.