Welcome to Prairie Flower!

Prairie Flower Montessori School strives to aid in the natural development of the human spirit and nurture the unique abilities within each child. Our school is dedicated to empowering parents and educators to significantly deepen their relationships with children through understanding and using the principles and practices of Dr. Maria Montessori.

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Our Story

Prairie Flower Montessori School is a private, nonprofit, and nonsectarian school serving children and families in the greater Decatur, Illinois area.


Prairie Flower began in 1997 with a small Parent-Infant Community in the home of Marianne Dunlap, the school’s founder. As it grew, a Toddler Community was created, which allowed the children an opportunity to separate from their parents for a few mornings each week. In 2001, a Primary Class was also established. In the spring of 2002, the school settled into a new home, among 2 and a half acres of woodlands, meadows, and wetland in south Decatur. An Elementary Class for 6 to 9-year-olds was added in 2015. Prairie Flower currently serves children of 4 months to 9 years of age.

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Our Approach

About Montessori


In the early 1900s, Dr. Maria Montessori, a native of Italy, developed a system of education based on her observation of the natural development of children. Montessori’s approach builds independent people who learn to take responsibility for themselves, their actions, and most importantly, their learning.

Based on its understanding of children’s development, the Montessori philosophy is able to present an individualized curriculum of self-directed work. The Montessori teacher ensures that each child pursues developmentally appropriate academic, practical life, and social learning experiences.

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“We shall walk together on this path of life, for all things are part of the universe and are connected with each other to form one whole unity.” – Maria Montessori