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Eden Prairie Montessori

“There’s a Lot of Love in These Children’s Hearts”

Love is something if you give it away,
Give it away, give it away.
Love is something if you give it away,
You end up having more.
– Magic Penny, by Malvina Reynolds

“Children have so much love in their hearts,” said Shonali Harrison, director of Eden Prairie Montessori. “So much honesty. So much compassion. So long as they have a little bit of guidance and the right surroundings, those wonderful feelings can only grow and grow.

“We provide childcare that inspires love for yourself, love for others around you, and love for the entire community. That goes beyond teaching tolerance. We nurture children’s hearts so they can appreciate everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, learn how to communicate properly, and resolve problems in a way that makes everyone happy.

“Our children are always delighted when it’s time to gather in a circle and sing together. ‘Magic Penny’ is our unofficial anthem, but ‘Baby Beluga’ by Raffi is a close second. ‘Baby beluga, baby beluga. Is the water warm? Is your mama home with you? So happy!’ I often wish it were the only song ever written about an infant sea creature. Parents of young children will understand.

“We read so many lovely stories together here. Stellaluna, about a fruit bat who teaches her kind to find common ground with the birds; Verdi, about a little snake who discovers that turning green can’t stop him from being himself; and The Rainbow Fish, about a fish who learns that sharing your blessings is the greatest blessing of all. My personal favorite is The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I don’t believe it has a moral. It’s just gorgeously illustrated.

“We use many special objects to teach our children how to get along peacefully. Whenever two of them have a conflict, either can get the peace rose off the shelf and offer it to the other. It’s a marvelous way to say you’re sorry and want to make amends before you’re able to verbalize diplomacy. We have the conversation rock, which any child can place on the table when they want to have a heart-to-heart with their classmates. We also have the peace chain – a long, colorful paper garland suspended from the ceiling. Whenever someone has a kind thought, we write it down and attach it to the peace chain so it can hang over all of our heads.

“We often ask our children what they’re grateful for, just to help them stay focused on life’s positives. Their answers are almost always their friends: ‘I like playing with Stephen,’ or ‘I love it when Evy wears her blue dress to class,’ or ‘I’m happy when Cormack smiles at me.’ 

“Our children’s extraordinary displays of compassion usually aren’t prompted. For example, just the other day one of our little girls began crying. She wanted all the toys, you see, and she was struggling with the reality that she couldn’t have them. It’s a feeling many adults are familiar with as well. A four-year-old boy abandoned the art project he had been working so hard on, walked over to her, and asked if she would like to play with him. So sweet!

“A few years ago two of our little boys had a big argument over a toy. ‘I want that!’ said one boy; ‘No! I want it!’ said the other. It was quite the impasse. Along came one of our older children, who stretched out his arms like a boxing referee and said ‘Stop. Wait just a minute, now. Let’s talk this out together.’ I thought it was funny, how officially he carried himself. But you know what? It worked. They talked it out, and a toy treaty was formed on that day.

“The Montessori method revolves around letting children pursue their natural interests rather than formally educating them. We don’t have to tell them how to be kind to each other. Kindness is instinctual. Our staff does model kindness and encourage it, but ultimately our best teaching tool is just to step back and let the children be their gentle, loving selves.”

Eden Prairie Montessori has two convenient locations at 7455 Market Place Drive and 8098 Glen Lane. You may learn more at

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