Dancing Pines FAQs

Montessori education, founded by Dr. Maria Montessori in the early 20th century, is a distinct form of education that differs in its history, objectives, and approach from conventional education. Dr. Montessori, who was an Italian physician and scientist, observed how children learn and created a “prepared environment” where students learn through hands-on experience. Montessori education is active, individualized, and competency-based, placing equal emphasis on academic, social, and emotional development. On the other hand, the conventional education model was developed during the industrial revolution to meet the needs of a transitioning society. Efficiency was a core value, and the system prioritized teaching students how to meet specific standards so that they could become productive members of society. Although modern educators recognize the effectiveness of Montessori’s approach, implementing this style of education is challenging due to the structure of the conventional system and its emphasis on standardized testing.

Ensuring a Successful Start with DPM
We want to make sure that DPM is the right choice for your family and student. For students in early primary school, we look for readiness to participate in the Montessori classroom. To be eligible, students must be at least three years old by August 31st of the attending year, capable of independently using the bathroom and demonstrating an age-appropriate level of independence to complete a morning work-cycle.

We are seeking lower and upper elementary students who exhibit self-direction and foster a positive environment in both the classroom and school community.

No, we are not a daycare or childcare center. We are approved by the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to educate children ages 3-12 as a private preschool and elementary school.

Yes, children must be potty trained to attend our primary classroom. Children must demonstrate that they are able to determine when they need to use the restroom and go without prompting or assistance. Our goal is always to encourage independence in all aspects of a child’s development. We are able to help of course with the occasional accident or assist in dressing or fastening clothing. We will also regularly remind children to ask themselves if they need to use the bathroom. Ultimately, bathroom accidents detract from our ability to provide academic lessons to all of the children.

Please read through the kindergarten readiness checklist below to see if your child is on track for staying full days with us. A child must be 4.5 AND deemed “kindergarten ready” by the lead primary teachers with an assessment to bump up to full days with us here. Of course, a lot of these skills they will continue to learn and grow inside the classroom, but we ask that parents are committed to encouraging them and fostering the learning of these skills at home first.

Social skills

  • Uses words to solve problems or conflicts
  • Uses words like please, thank you and excuse me
  • Adjusts to new situations
  • Attempts new tasks knowing it’s okay to make mistakes
  • Shows pride in accomplishments
  • Follows a simple direction
  • Stays with an activity to completion
  • Asks for help
  • Interacts appropriately with adults and peers
  • Respects the rights, property and feelings of others
  • Works cooperatively (listens to others, shares and takes turns)
  • Demonstrates increasing self-control
  • Participates in clean-up activities
  • Takes responsibility for own belongings (lunch, coat, etc.)
  • Is able to dress self
  • Adheres to a routine and schedule for personal hygiene, eating meals and going to bed
  • Uses good hygiene habits and table manners
  • Uses appropriate bathroom skills
  • Follows simple safety rules
  • Offers to help peers and family
  • Tries to regulate emotions properly and articulates feelings in words

Motor skills

  • Puts puzzles together
  • Cuts with scissors
  • Holds and uses crayons, markers, pens and pencils correctly
  • Builds using blocks
  • Tries to tie own shoes
  • Bounces, kicks, throws and catches a ball
  • Rides a tricycle
  • Enjoys outdoor activities, like running, jumping and climbing

Reasoning & concept development

  • Matches or groups objects according to size, shape or color
  • Groups objects that are the same
  • Understands concepts of in/out, under/over, on/off, front/back, etc.
  • Shows an understanding of the passing of time, including concepts of before and after, and today, yesterday and tomorrow
  • Experiments enthusiastically with new games and toys, sometimes in a trial-and-error manner
  • Describes how objects are the same or different

Language skills

  • Talks in sentences 
  • Follows one- and two-step oral directions
  • Uses sentences that include two or more ideas
  • Uses descriptive language
  • Knows by heart and recites some common nursery rhymes and songs
  • Pretends, creates and makes up songs or stories
  • Tells or retells stories and/or everyday experiences
  • Asks questions and expresses curiosity
  • Expresses ideas so that others can understand

Reading skills

  • Looks at books or pictures on their own
  • Pretends to read books by reading the pictures
  • Tries to read in everyday situations (signs, labels, etc.) 
  • Recognizes rhyming words
  • Blends sounds into words
  • Recognizes some common words in print
  • Recognizes many uppercase and lowercase letters
  • Recognizes some letter sounds
  • Describes characters’ actions and feelings in a story
  • Relates stories to personal experiences
  • Puts events of a story in order

Writing skills

  • Tries to write, scribble or draw
  • Asks you to write words or notes to others
  • Attempts to write own name and recognizes own name in print

Mathematics concepts

  • Compares the size of groups of objects using language such as “more,” “less” and “same as”
  • Arranges objects in size order (big to small, or small to big)
  • Uses comparison words, like “bigger,” “smaller,” “heavier,” etc.
  • Understands concepts of none, some and all and more than and less than
  • Identifies and draws a square, circle and triangle
  • Correctly counts four to ten objects
  • Knows that the final number counted represents the total number of objects in a set
  • Recognizes some numbers, 1 – 10
  • Can distinguish numbers from letters, and understands that numbers relate to quantity
  • Understands the effects of addition and subtraction


  • Shows interest and asks questions about objects and events observed in their environment
  • Notices common properties and differences among objects and materials
  • Knows some facts about common plants and animals, such as what they eat and baby names
  • Recognizes some objects in the sky such as the sun, moon, clouds and lightning

Creative arts & music

  • Recognizes and names basic colors
  • Draws recognizable shapes and simple objects
  • Tells a story with pictures
  • Moves to a beat
  • Explores with common musical instruments
  • Enjoys improvising or copying musical patterns

Social studies

  • Recognizes basic traditions such as birthdays
  • Understands that people live in different parts of the worlds and have different customs and traditions
  • Explores simple maps and visual representations of neighborhoods or communities

No, because we are not a licensed childcare center, we are not able to offer before or after school care.

Our drop off time for school begins at 8:55am. All classrooms are in session starting by 9:15am. If you have a 3-4 year old, pick-up time will be at 12pm. 4-5 year olds may be 1pm if you opt for the extended pick-up time after lunch. 5-6 year olds that stay full day are picked up at 3:30pm. Our lower elementary and upper elementary students (ages 6-12) are picked up at 3:45pm.

We follow Kent School District and Tahoma School District closures for snow, ice, or weather advisories. For more information on what our calendar will look like next year, please reference our current calendar. The calendar tab is at the top of the page.