A tour through 10 terrific Edina preschools that offer much more than playtime to the city’s littlest residents.
Preschoolers are a sweet and fun-loving group. Most are just excited about the idea of having their own school to go to, especially if they’ve seen older brothers and sisters head out the door with a backpack every day. For many little ones, it is the first time they’ve been in a classroom and they enjoy everything from the sand table to the large muscle room, from storytime to the always popular snack time.
Edina has a variety of different preschool programs that offer something a little different for everybody. Several have been part of the lives of multiple generations of Edina families; Edina Morningside Nursery School is 60 years old and has the distinction of being the oldest continuously licensed preschool in the state of Minnesota, while the Berry Patch School originally began in the Edina home of founder Berrie Lounsberry in 1983.
Old or new, large or small, there’s a lot to like about preschool in Edina. All welcome inquiries from interested families and many offer regularly scheduled or “by appointment” tours. While spring is traditionally preschool registration time, directors encourage interested families to contact them regarding openings for fall, which often occur during the summer months.
The snack tables might be low, but spirits are always running high with the littlest students – and often with the teachers, too, who love being part of the lives of their preschoolers every day.
The Berry Patch School
Divided into three age groups—Huckleberries, Blueberries and the “big kid” Strawberries (4 and 5 year olds), life is sweet at the two Berry Patch School locations in Edina. In addition to age appropriate preschool curriculum, students participate in a monthly program called “Children Serving Others” which is intended to instill the importance of “giving back” into the minds and hearts of even the youngest children.
“CSO was developed early on at Berry Patch,” says assistant director Shannon Matson. “In the past few months, our children collected books for the ‘Books for Kids’ program sponsored by the Junior League of Minneapolis and we also had a coin drive for the people of Haiti.”
Matson recalls that during the coin drive, a little boy came up to her and lamented that he didn’t have any money to donate. However, the next day he arrived at school with a smile and a handful of coins.
“He told me he’d found the change in his mom’s car and he was so happy about that,” says Matson with a laugh. “It means so much to them to help out.”
Berry Patch School: Colonial Church
6200 Colonial Way
Berry Patch School: Calvary Church
5300 France Ave. S.
Creekside Children’s Place
Kathy Shideman has spent more than 30 years with the youngest residents of Edina, including her own children when they were little, and loves her work at Creekside Children’s Place at Good Samaritan United Methodist Church as much as she did when she started.
“It’s really not like going to work every day,” says Shideman, owner of the school. “Now, I’m seeing a lot of my friends’ grandchildren in our program – we have a wonderful group of parents and unbelievable kids.”
One of the most unique features of Creekside—which offers programs for toddlers, preschoolers and pre-K children—is the length of the school day.
“Since our day lasts from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., we are able to spend a bit more time on both the academic and socialization pieces of our preschool day,” Shideman says. Extended day hours lasting until 2:30 p.m. are also available on a flexible, day-to-day basis for parents who might need a little extra time on occasion.
5730 Grove St.
Edina Family Center
Terrific 2s and 3s and fabulous 4s and 5s make up the preschool classes at Edina Family Center, where large muscle play, activity and learning centers, circle time and (peanut-free) snack time are all part of the plan.
Also offered is a unique program called “Hand in Hand Preschool” for the same age groups, which is a combined class that brings together typically developing preschoolers with their peers who have special needs. The preschool day is the same, and there are two teachers (all the center’s are licensed) in each room—one from the Edina Family Center and another from the district’s Early Childhood Special Education department.
Ask about the sliding fee program for Edina School District residents and the six areas of play-based curriculum.
5701 Normandale Rd.
Edina Morningside Preschool
Sixty years ago, Edina Morningside Preschool opened to serve as a ministry of Edina Morningside Community Church–United Church of Christ, and it continues in that role today. According to director Beth Henrich, who has been there for four years, the goal of “loving the whole child” hasn’t changed at all.
“The fundamentals of our program are very much the same, however we are constantly updating our training for teachers,” says Henrich.
Edina Morningside offers a mixed age program during free play, and then children are separated into age appropriate learning groups. “We love having the ‘big buddies’ and ‘little buddies’ spend some time together during the day,” says Henrich. “It’s super good for the self-esteem of the big guys because they realize the younger ones think they can hang the moon.”
This is even the case with sibling pairs, she adds, calling it “wonderfully reassuring” for the little ones to come to school with an older brother or sister.
4201 Morningside Rd.
Especially for Children
One of the features of Especially for Children, which also offers programs for infants, is the Star Wellness initiative that is implemented at each of the nine Especially for Children locations in the Twin Cities.
With a focus on nutrition, healthy habits and fitness—for children, as well as for their families—each month Especially for Children shines a spotlight on both a food concept and a fitness concept. For example, a recent month focused on whole grains, paired with climbing, whether up and down stairs or on playground equipment.
Especially for Children has two locations in Edina:
5015 W. 70th St.
3330 Edinborough Way
St. Peter’s Lutheran Church and School
Preschool may be just the beginning for little ones at St. Peter’s Lutheran School since, in addition to a child care and preschool program, the school also has a K–8 Christian school.
“Busy Bees,” ages 33–48 months, can attend either a half-day or full day program, which includes group time (checking the calendar, weather and discussing the weekly theme), table activities time, Jesus time, gym time and more. “Playful Penguins” is one program for the pre-K crowd, those who will be attending kindergarten the following year, and offers similar activities including reading readiness. The pre-K programs are available on either a full- or half-day basis.
5421 France Ave. S.
Step by Step Montessori
Practical life, sensory perception, math, science (including botany and zoology) and reading and writing are just a few examples of areas explored by preschoolers at Step by Step. The Southdale school, one of eight Metro locations, offers programs for children between the ages of six weeks and kindergarten; the preschool program targets ages 33 months to five years.
Lead teachers are all Montessori certified and work with “the whole child” to help them learn and grow in a multitude of ways.
6519 Barrie Rd.
Kinderberry Hill Child Development Center
With enrichment activities like Spanish, sign language, music and fitness classes, Kinderberry Hill offers unique learning opportunities for preschoolers and beyond. The Intermediate program, for children ages 33 months–pre K, provides theme-based, hands-on learning activities in a fun and engaging setting.
There is also a separate pre-K program for that important year before kindergarten which helps to prepare children socially and academically for their first year in school.
There are six Kinderberry Hill locations in the metro area.
3950 70th St. W.
Cross View Early Childhood Center
A ministry of Cross View Lutheran Church, the Early Childhood Center, is a year-round, non-profit childcare and preschool program for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Starting in the Infant Bunny room, youngsters move to Toddler Teddies before the Preschool Ducklings room for ages 33 months to five years.
The Center offers age appropriate activities and curriculum lessons in a Christian environment; children can attend two through five days per week.
6645 McCauley Tr. W.