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Nature’s Way Montessori
A Nurturing Community for the Families of Napa
WRITTEN BY Fran Miller

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Published On: June 27, 2024
young child in yellow romper in wooden play tunnel with green grass and colorful play area in background
Photos courtesy of Nature's Way Montessori

With the belief that education should be accessible, inclusive, and aligned with the natural curiosity and potential of every child, Monica MacDonald founded Nature’s Way Montessori pre-school in 2013. Over the last 11 years, MacDonald and Nature’s Way have illustrated an ability and willingness to adapt to the community’s changing needs and have served over 500 families and children.

When the school started, the youngest age the school served was age 3. It was during COVID that MacDonald, a seasoned education professional with 35 years of experience in early childhood education, realized the community’s desire for infant care, and expanded the program to include infants. Nature’s Way is now considered Napa’s preeminent infant care center, catering to children ages 12 weeks through kindergarten.

“Infant care is the area of programming in which we are growing fastest,” said MacDonald. “This wasn’t my initial plan several years ago when I founded the school; however, I saw what our families needed and wanted to support them.”

2 photos; Left, toddler playing with wooden tool set on table indoors; Right: adult woman holding baby with sun hat, smiling, outdoors with blue sky

What makes Nature’s Way stand out among other childcare learning centers is the utilization of the Montessori method, where lead teachers participate in a training curriculum that focuses on a science-based, child-centered approach set up for the individual needs of every child during each developmental stage. The stages include age ranges of 12 weeks to 18 months, 18 months to 3 years, and 3 years to kindergarten. Another differentiator is staff consistency – the team of teachers remains consistent throughout the year and does not change. This allows the child and the teachers to bond and celebrate each child’s individuality. In addition, the program is designed to promote education and free exploration in harmony with the natural world. This enriching indoor/outdoor environment and hands-on interaction with nature nurtures a sense of responsibility and a deep appreciation for the natural world, sparking even the youngest of imaginations.

“Children are naturally curious and love to learn,” said MacDonald. “We support this innate drive by providing environments that meet children’s developmental needs, guided by a consistent staff of loving adults while building a community of families that actively support our mission.”

This sense of community is one of the school’s unique marquee qualities. At Nature’s Way, parents are encouraged to actively participate in their children’s education, creating a supportive and collaborative environment in which lifelong friendships are forged. “Our parents are committed to trusting their children’s individual developmental path,” said MacDonald. “They respect their children’s passions, and they embrace the challenges of parenthood by learning about implementing Montessori into their homes.”

“My first son started at Nature’s Way when he was nine months old, and now he’s 3,” said parent Cari Roberts Cameron. “It is such an incredible school, program, and community. I can confidently say the school was a huge factor in the development of my son’s independence, curiosity, and happiness. He’s been so loved there and encouraged. My younger daughter started recently, and we can’t wait to watch her flourish.” 

“Our mission is simply to prepare children for life,” added MacDonald. “And simply put, children are happy at Nature’s Way.”

For more information www.natureswaynapavalley.com