Early Childhood Center

The Early Childhood Center at St. Catherine University has a Four Star Parent Aware rating, the highest possible rating.

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

We offer full and part-time educational services for children ages 33 months to six years.


Programs

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

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ECC has made some temporary changes including small stable classroom groups that will require a Monday–Friday commitment. Each family will receive 6.75 hours of school time during our hours of operation to accommodate staggered drop-off and pick-up times. You will sign up for or be assigned to a time slot with a fixed drop-off and pick-up time. Please call for more information or questions related to our program operation during the pandemic. Thank you.

The St. Catherine University Montessori Children's House is based on the philosophy of Dr. Maria Montessori and uses her method and materials with the idea 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.

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

The Staff

Both our Montessori teacher and our Montessori Assistant teacher have university degrees, as well as years of teaching experience. They are CPR, AED, and First Aid certified.

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

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

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

Current Enrollment

We encourage families to call us anytime because family situations change. Often we have been able to accommodate families on a last minute basis.

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.

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

The Staff

All of our teachers have university degrees and our lead teachers have specific education in early childhood areas as well as years of experience teaching this age group.

All of the teaching staff are CPR, AED, and First Aid certified.

St. Catherine University students assist us 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.

Parents or guardians 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.

Current Enrollment

We encourage families to call us anytime because family situations change. Often we have been able to accommodate families on a last minute basis.

Please call 651-690-6608 or email ecc@stkate.edu for information about our summer program.

September 2020– May 2021 Fees

Option Time Weekly Cost Hours of Operation
Montessori Children's House 6.75 hours/day $260 7:40 a.m. – 3:05 p.m.
Early Learning Program 6.75 hours/day $260 8:30 a.m. – 3:55 p.m.

Make a Payment

You can now 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.


Our Schedule

2020–2021 Calendar

​Date Event​
Tuesday, September 8 ECC opens for all children
Wednesday, September 16
6–8 p.m.
all parent/staff meeting
Friday, October 16 professional development day — closed
Wednesday, October 21
6–8 p.m.
Montessori Kindergarten meeting
Thursday–Friday, November 26–27 Thanksgiving — closed
Wednesday, December 22 – Friday, January 1 winter break — closed
Monday, January 18 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day — closed
Monday, February 15 professional development day — closed
Friday, April 2 – Monday, April 5 Good Friday/Easter Monday — closed
Week of May 10 (exact date TBD)
5:30–7 p.m.
family picnic
Friday, May 28 last day
Monday, May 31 Memorial Day — closed
Tuesday, June 1 professional development day — closed
Wednesday, June 2 summer program begins
Friday, August 13 summer program ends
Tuesday, August 31 – Thursday, September 2, 8:45 a.m.–12 p.m. Montessori phase-in for new Montessori children
Wednesday, September 1, 9 a.m.–12 p.m. Early Learning Program open house for all EL families
Tuesday, September 7, 2021 ECC opens for all children

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 and giving students 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 2020.

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.