Preschool & Kindergarten

The Montessori School offers preschool and kindergarten education for children ages 3 to 6. Classrooms are multi-aged, allowing children to collaborate with a diverse group of peers.  Read more about the specifics below.

Preschool

Beginning at age 2 years 9 months, children are eligible for our preschool program. They will join a community of children aged 3-6 for a three-year cycle as they explore developmentally appropriate works at their own pace.

  • Offered at our Richland and Kalamazoo campuses
  • Monday through Friday, morning and full day options available
  • Before- and after-school care available
  • 10-month and 12-month programs
  • 1:10 adult-to-child ratio
  • Cooking, sewing, music, gardening, outdoor time, and more!

The most important time for learning is the period between birth and six years of age. Children are eager to learn from new people and experiences. They absorb all the environment has to offer and it is our responsibility to ensure the world they experience is rich, safe, nurturing, and intelligent. The foundation of self-esteem and all future learning is constructed during these early years and the Preschool Program is designed to take advantage of this powerful, formative period.

In the preschool classroom, your child will be introduced to many different concepts and will learn both through observing and through direct interaction with our beautifully crafted materials.

  • Children learn to bake, sew, wash dishes, care for self, sweep, pour, and more with our lessons in Practical Life.
  • Activities that appeal and refine the senses are the focus of our Sensorial Exercises. Your child will learn size, shape, composition, texture, temperature, weight, loudness or softness, and many other qualities as he or she works with these materials.
  • Language is taught through a specific progression of lessons that engage the senses–children learn letters and sounds through seeing, hearing, and touching them–and through immersion in a linguistically rich classroom environment.
  • Our Mathematics materials are designed to teach your child not only how, but why. Math is hands-on and our lessons teach number values and math operations though concrete materials that children touch and manipulate. Children are exposed to a wide array of mathematical concepts to prepare them for abstract work and mathematics in later grades.
  • Lessons in Grace and Courtesy begin on the first day of school and are reinforced throughout the Preschool level. Children learn to respect one’s own work and the work of others, to wait one’s turn, and to handle materials gently and put them away neatly after using them. These and other lessons in Grace and Courtesy are essential to maintaining a quiet, respectful, and nurturing environment and to raising considerate and capable children.

See a Montessori preschool morning in action:

Kindergarten

At The Montessori School, Kindergarten is referred to as Extended Day, and is a continuation of the preschool program into the afternoon.

  • Offered at our Richland and Kalamazoo campuses
  • Monday through Friday, 9am-3pm
  • Before- and after-school care available
  • 10-month and 12-month programs
  • Usually takes place during the traditional Kindergarten year (age 5 going on 6)

Instead of their school day ending at noon with the other Preschool children, Kindergarten students continue to work with teachers until 3pm. During this time, the children build upon the activities of the morning and undertake projects and field trips that are typically too challenging for our youngest Primary students.

Admission to the Kindergarten program is based on the child’s development, not on chronological age. We evaluate the child’s ability to work successfully without a nap. This usually occurs when they are between 4 and 5 years old, and often happens mid-year as a child demonstrates the developmental milestones that indicate readiness.

Kindergarten students stay in the same room with the same teacher and children, and take on the leadership role in the Primary classroom community. This continuity is developmentally appropriate and beneficial to the child’s sense of security and well-being. Only the Kindergarten students are in our Preschool classrooms in the afternoon. Younger children are either napping or have gone home for the day. This opportunity for focused, small-group attention provides the perfect bridge to the elementary education.

Kindergarten, like all Montessori programs, emphasizes active rather than passive learning. Children learn by actively participating in their environment, mastering many skills, and experiencing hands-on learning during this time. Like other Preschool students, Kindergarten students participate in music, language, and cultural study, outdoor time, and other enrichment activities.

Watch this short video to better understand why the Montessori Kindergarten year is so important:

All-Year Montessori

Does your child attend the preschool or kindergarten program 12 months per year? Does your child stay for full days regularly? All-Year Montessori may be the right fit for your family!

The All-Year Montessori classroom will be exclusively dedicated to children who attend The Montessori School‘s Kalamazoo Campus full-day and year-round. Children in this classroom will have one continuous program from 7:30am-6:00pm, 12 months per year.

Two trained lead guides, as well as an assistant, will staff the room ensuring that a trained guide will be with these children at all times. Transitions will be eliminated as students will stay with the staff and their peers through the morning work-cycle, lunch, recess, nap (if needed), and the afternoon work-cycle.

The benefits are endless as this group of children become their own year-round, close community for a three-year cycle.

Learn More

Richland Bilingual Program

The Montessori School offers a bilingual program for children in preschool through the traditional kindergarten year.

  • Offered exclusively at our Richland Campus
  • All lessons are taught in both English and Spanish
  • Monday through Friday, morning and full-day options available
  • Before- and after-school care available

The Montessori School’s bilingual curriculum provides lessons in both English and Spanish to preschool and kindergarten students ages 3 through 6.

Teresa Cavanaugh and Lee Sanchez, our Spanish-speaking guides, work alongside the campus’ two main teachers to repeat typical Montessori lessons in Spanish. Both Cavanaugh and Sanchez are Montessori-trained and fluent in Spanish.

Rather than a Spanish class where students learn how to speak the language, children will receive the Montessori lessons in Spanish as well as English, reinforcing the curriculum and bilingual elements of the program.

Learn More

Childcare
The Montessori School’s before- and after-school programs – open to all currently enrolled TMS students – are led by experienced and well-trained staff who are part of our classroom’s regular teaching teams.

Your child will have the opportunity to participate in music lessons, baking, outdoor play, construction activities, creating art, and more in our childcare program.

For rates and more information, click here

Faculty and Staff

Kalamazoo

Emma Young, Juniper Room Lead Guide | e-mail Emma

Emma received her AMI primary diploma from The Montessori Training Center of Minnesota in the spring of 2014. Emma has been involved in The Montessori School community since the fall of 2011 as a teacher’s assistant at both campuses. She received her Bachelor of Arts from WMU, exploring every medium she could get her hands on. She especially loves printmaking and finding ways to make art accessible to all people. Emma was a Montessori child herself from the ages of 3 to 12. This experience has led her to become a life long learner, lover of the arts, and an advocate for the child. Emma loves gardening, spending time with animals, reading, and cooking.

 

Megan Schopf, Oak Room Lead Guide | e-mail Megan

Megan has a BA in History from the University of Colorado and received her Montessori certification in 2009 from the Adrian Dominican Montessori Training Institute.  She interned at The Montessori School, and began her Montessori teaching career at Brookview School in Benton Harbor, Michigan.  Prior to becoming a Montessori teacher, she designed and facilitated learning experiences that supported the development of the person and of the family across Southwest Michigan. She also served as artist-in-residence for a healthcare consulting organization in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  She is a life long learner who enjoys long walks in the woods, sharing meals with those she loves, and reading as much and as often as she can.

 

Megan Gunter, Primary & Licensing Coordinator | e-mail Megan

Megan has a Bachelors degree in Elementary Education and Psychology, and a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She received AMS primary credentials from the Montessori Educational Institute of North America, in Jackson, TN. She interned and worked at The Children’s House of Nashville in a primary Montessori classroom as a lead guide. Megan is a lifelong learner, enjoys hiking, taking her dog on walks, and spending time with family and friends.

 

 

Richland

Jenny Madden, Catalpa Room Lead Guide | e-mail Jenny

Jenny is a graduate of the Adrian Dominican Montessori Teacher Training Institute. She has an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education from Kellogg Community College and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Family Life Education from Spring Arbor University. A nature and outdoor enthusiast, she enjoys collecting rocks on the shores of Lake Michigan and spending time running outdoors in the beauty and splendor of the countryside. She recently completed her second marathon.

 

 

Lauren Grinnell-Ackerman, Birch Room Lead Guide | e-mail Lauren

Lauren received her primary AMI diploma in the spring of 2016 at Montessori Northwest Training Center in Portland, OR. She has been with The Montessori School since fall 2013 as an assistant teacher in the primary classrooms at the Kalamazoo campus. She received her Bachelors of Science in Child and Family Development from WMU, and her Master’s in Montessori Education at Loyola University Maryland in the summer of 2016. She enjoys spending time in nature with her partner, Ryan, camping, and traveling the country to experience the natural world of the national parks. She also enjoys staying at home and spending time exploring Michigan’s coast! When she isn’t traveling she enjoys reading, cooking, and creating artwork.

 

Teresa Cavanagh, Catalpa Room Spanish-speaking Guide  | e-mail Teresa

Teresa received her Bachelors of English and Education from Albion College and her Master’s in Literacy from MaryGrove College in 2016. In the Fall of 2018, she will attend Montessori Primary training at the Adrian Dominican Montessori Training Institute. Teresa is passionate about Montessori methods of learning and nurturing the child’s spirit. Teresa served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras from 2004-2006, and has a passion for learning about other cultures. Some of her favorite adventures include cycling across Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Malaysia), cycling in southern India, and walking across Spain on El Camino. The best adventure yet, is raising her two children, Veda and Vincent (7 and 5) and learning how to appreciate the small moments.

 

Lee Sanchez, Birch Room Spanish-speaking Guide  | e-mail Lee

Lee Sanchez is an AMI Montessori guide for 3-6 year olds.  She graduated from the Maria Montessori Institute in London, England in 2010.  She taught in bilingual Montessori schools in the Dominican Republic for over three years at the primary and elementary levels.  She has also taught at the first Montessori school in Guatemala and helped to start their bilingual program.  She has a Masters in Education in World Language Instruction from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota and has written her thesis on simultaneous bilingual literacy development in children ages 3-5.

Additionally, Lee is the center director for Hands and Feet Family Music in Hastings, Michigan, where she lives and teaches Music Together® and Canta y Baila Conmigo® (a nationally recognized music and movement Spanish program). Lee received her bachelor’s degree from Hope College, where she graduated magna cum laude.

 

   Sierra O’Connell-Koon, After-School Coordinator | e-mail Sierra

Sierra received her Bachelors of Fine Arts in Photography and a Minor in Graphic Design through Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids. She is very passionate about the outdoors, growing up hiking, camping, swimming and countless hours of volunteer work with the West Michigan Chapter of the Sierra Club. Sierra and her husband have a very large garden and can be spotted at the Richland Farmers Market quite often. Canning, pickling, wine-making, camping, foraging and kayaking are some of her favorite hobbies.

Sierra has two amazing bonus children; Austin and Ainsley ages 10 and 8, and gave birth to her son Brantley in November of 2017. Sierra started out subbing for the Montessori School of Richland and fell into a career that not only surprised her, but continually keeps a smile on her face. She loves being able to work with the kids and seeing them grow throughout their time here at The Montessori School.