Early Childhood Center

Early childhood education is a tradition at St. Catherine University. Founded in 1931 by Sister Ann Harvey, a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet, the Center originated as a lab school to educate women in teaching young children.

1946 University Archives Photograph Collection. A student is seated on the floor with three children while playing with blocks.

Today, the Early Childhood Center meets a vital need for quality care and education of the young children of St. Catherine University students, faculty, staff and members of the surrounding community. Many second-generation children find their way back to the Center.

The Early Childhood Center at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota has a Four Star Parent Aware rating, the highest possible rating. We offer full-time educational services for children ages 33 months to six years. 


We provide two authentic educational models: a Montessori Children's House and an Early Learning Program.

We offer small stable classroom groups that require a Monday through Friday full-time commitment.  We offer two pick-up time options. 

The St. Catherine University Montessori Children's House is based on the philosophy of Dr. Maria Montessori, using her method, materials and ideology that education should be an aid to life. Children develop independence through choice of purposeful work. The teacher gives individual presentations guided by the interests and development of the child, providing the dynamic link between the child and the carefully prepared environment.

Children make choices daily as to what they will do. They feel at home where they are able to follow an interest to completion without interruption, further developing concentration, calmness, and joy. This joy is embodied through your child's expressed desire to connect with others and to participate in community and caring for the environment with contentment and peace. Montessori's methods prepare the child for life, allowing the process of self-construction to flourish.

This three-year program includes Kindergarten; serving children ages 33 months* to 6 years of age. We ask that parents enroll their children with this three-year commitment in mind. The first two years aid the development of independence, concentration, competence and consciousness through purposeful activity and serve as a foundation for third year. The third (and sometimes fourth) year is the kindergarten year, when a very broad range of academic work is eagerly pursued by your child. Learning throughout the three years comes naturally and spontaneously with joy, confidence and ease. Upon completion of the kindergarten year, your child is ready for first grade and to continue with a love of learning about others, the world and themselves.

The Early Learning Program is an educational program for children 33 months* to 5 years of age. Children experience group learning joyfully. They make new discoveries through self-directed activities and small group explorations about themes that have been carefully developed by the teaching staff. The various learning centers of math, science, language, socialization and play are integrated into the theme work.

Sensitivity and respect characterize our approach for your child: respect for the whole child as a person, for individual differences and learning style, for each child's right for intellectual and social growth, and to have the support of concerned adult when needed.

As a staff, we work hard to be responsive to the needs and interests of each child. Throughout the program, emphasis is placed on fostering self-esteem, developing social awareness and a sense of community, encouraging independence, promoting language development, developing problem-solving skills, and providing challenging stimulation within a nurturing environment.

Our 11-week summer program is loosely based in the Montessori philosophy. The class utilizes the campus environment and spends a lot of time outdoors with special activities. It is open to both Montessori and Early Learning children.

The summer program is available for families enrolled in the previous academic program or those who are enrolled in the upcoming school year. Please call 651-690-6608 or email ecc@stkate.edu for information about our summer program.

Program Options

September 2022 - May 2023 Options Time Hours of Operation Weekly Cost Monthly Tuition Payments
Montessori Children's House First Pick Up M - F, 6.75 hours/day 7:45am - 2:30pm $277 $1170
Montessori Children's House Second Pick Up M - F, 7.75 hours/day 7:45am - 3:30pm $318 $1343
Early Learning Program M-F M - F, 6.75 hours/day 8:30am - 3:15pm $277 $1170
Early Learning Extended PM Hour M - F, 7.75 hours/day 8:30am - 4:15pm $318 $1343


Summer 2023 Options Time Hours of Operation Weekly Cost Tuition (Two Installments)
Montessori Children's House First Pick Up M - F, 6.75 hours/day 8:00am - 2:45pm $277 $1524
Montessori Children's House Second Pick Up M - F, 7.75 hours/day 8:00am - 3:45pm $318 $1749


September 2023 - May 2024 Options Time Hours of Operation Weekly Cost Monthly Tuition Payments
Montessori Children's House First Pick Up M - F, 6.75 hours/day 7:45am - 2:30pm $288 $1248
Montessori Children's House Second Pick Up M - F, 7.75 hours/day 7:45am - 3:30pm $331 $1434
Early Learning Program M-F M - F, 6.75 hours/day 8:30am - 3:15pm $288 $1248
Early Learning Extended PM Hour M - F, 7.75 hours/day 8:30am - 4:15pm $331 $1434


Tuition for the school year is totaled and divided for a reoccurring monthly amount. Tuition for the summer is totaled and divided in half.

Our Program

The Staff

All of our teachers have university degrees and are CPR, AED, and First Aid certified. Lead teachers have specific education in early childhood areas, as well as years of experience teaching the age group. 

St. Catherine University students assist during transition times in the early mornings, lunch time, and late afternoons.

School Enrollment Policy

The Center enrolls children from the University community and the general community. However, there is a preference given to families who are members of the St. Catherine University community (students, staff, faculty), and siblings of children currently enrolled.

The Center accepts children with special needs when we can meet their needs in the opinion of the staff, parents and appropriate professionals.

Families interested in enrolling their children are encouraged to visit the Center. A visit can be scheduled by calling or emailing the Center and setting up an appointment with the Director. 

*We take children 33 months old in the fall (September–December).

Current Enrollment

Knowing that family situations change, we encourage families to call us anytime during our business hours. We have been able to accommodate families on a last-minute basis.


Our Schedule

2022–2023 Academic Calendar



Wednesday, August 31, 9am-12pm

Open House for All EL Families and Returning Montessori Families

Thursday, September 1, 9am-12pm

Montessori Phase-In for New Montessori Children

Tuesday, September 6

ECC Opens for All Children

Wednesday, September 14, 5pm-6:30pm

Parent/Guardian Back to School Night

Thursday, October 20

Prof. Development Day (MEA) - Center Closed

Friday, October 21

SCU Fall Break - Center Closed

Monday, October 31, 9am-10am

Costumed Autumn Campus Walk

Thursday - Friday, November 24 - 25

Thanksgiving - Center Closed

Monday, Dec. 12, 2:45pm-3:15pm

Winter Sing Along

Wednesday, Dec. 21 - Tuesday, Jan. 3

Winter Break - Center Closed

Monday, January 16

Martin Luther King Jr. Day - Center Closed

Monday, February 20

Professional Development Day - Center Closed

Friday, March 17

Professional Development Day - Center Closed

Thursday, April 6

Professional Development Day - Center Closed

Friday, April 7 and Monday, April 10

Good Friday and Easter Monday - Center Closed

Friday, May 26

Last Day of School - Early Dismissal/Family Gathering


2023 Summer Calendar



Monday, May 29

Memorial Day - Center Closed

Tuesday, May 30

Program Turnaround - Center Closed 

Wednesday, May 31

ECC Opens for Summer Children

Monday, June 19

Juneteenth - Center Closed

Tuesday, July 4

Independence Day - Center Closed

Friday, August 11

Last Day of Summer Program

2023–2024 Calendar

Check back soon for the 2023-2024 calendar. 

About Us

Lab School

Our Center offers two distinct approaches to early childhood education and provides opportunities for St. Catherine University students from many academic departments to observe, do fieldwork, and research. Additionally, we have University student staff supporting both programs, providing work experience in a professional setting.

License and Accreditation

The Early Childhood Center is licensed by the State Department of Human Services and meets or exceeds its requirements. We are also accredited by National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) until the year 2024 when we will be up for renewal.

We have a four star rating from Parent Aware, the state of Minnesota's Quality Rating System. It is good for two years, and renewal for us will be July 2024.

The ECC Montessori Children's House meet the requirements to be a Full Member School of the American Montessori Society and we renew our membership annually.

Diversity Statement

The Early Childhood Center honors, supports and celebrates the diversity of its children, families, and staff. Diversity is interpreted in the broadest sense and includes race, language, faith background, family structure, gender, sexual orientation and economic status.

Make a Payment

You can make your tuition payments online. You can use your credit card, check card, checking or savings account to make a payment anytime; 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We accept American Express, Discover, Mastercard or Visa, as well as Electronic Checks from your checking or savings account.