Lil Newton’s Nest Opens in Maple Grove

A new Maple Grove preschool makes way for really smart kids.
Nora Anderson, left, and Alise McGregor at Lil Newton's Nest in Maple Grove.

Susan Smith remembers the time her son said something in another language to their family pet. “We had no idea what it was,” Smith says. “And he finally said, ‘Mom, I’m saying “I love you” to the dog in Chinese.’” Jackson Smith entered first grade this fall at Beacon Academy knowing more than the average 6-year-old—and he has his early years in daycare to thank for it.

Everyone wants the best for their kids, and living in Maple Grove puts us at a distinct advantage. We have great opportunities for summers at the park and winters at the rink, a plethora of after-school classes, and many sports and music programs. And now, among all the other great day cares and preschools in town, there’s an option for early childhood education that offers a unique curriculum.

Lil Newton’s Nest opened in 2009 in Plymouth with seven students; within five years, it had expanded to accommodate 269 students. “We take ‘Sorry, we’re full’ calls all day long,” says owner Alise McGregor. She and her team decided to open a second location in Maple Grove, because it’s near the Plymouth location and because the city is growing so quickly.

Susan Smith’s son Jackson completed the Lil Newton’s Nest program in Plymouth, but his 2-year-old sister Melayna transferred in September to the new Maple Grove location. “It’s perfect for us—less than 2-miles away,” Smith says. And, with 11,000 square feet at the new location and licensure for 124 kids, the Smiths might be glad they enrolled early.

So what is it that makes this particular center so sought-after? While the quality of care for Lil Newton’s Nest children—from 6-week-olds to kindergarteners—is high, you’ll also find great care at many other centers in the area. Lil Newton’s Nest parents see curriculum as the differentiating factor. Teachers integrate encyclopedic knowledge, art, dance, music, reading, yoga, math and science into the everyday experience.

“Under the age of 5, [the children] can learn anything,” says McGregor. The reading program starts with babies, and the exposure to encyclopedic knowledge follows soon after. “The kiddos learn so quickly, I’ve had to redo the curriculum three times since we opened, in order to add more info,” explains McGregor. For example, she says, “Kids learn all the birds early on, so when they come back around to birds, at a later age, more exotic birds have to be added to stay ahead of their knowledge.” Most kids leave the Nest knowing how to read, knowing the chemical elements, and also some fascinating facts about African tree frogs. “The early childhood testers for kindergarten readiness know us well,” says McGregor.

The Lil Newton’s Nest has become like family to the Smiths. They’ve also been impressed by the positive discipline at the center. “The kids say, ‘No thank you’ instead of yelling, ‘No!’” Susan Smith says. She also notes her children’s pleasant “walking feet” instead of “running feet.”

So, the center helps babies grow into loved, polite and smart kids. What more can you ask for? How about bilingual learning? From a very young age, Lil Newton’s Nest kids begin learning five languages: Spanish, French, Mandarin Chinese, Italian and American Sign Language.

Because children under age 5 don’t yet use higher-level reasoning (a mental process we develop as our brains mature), they don’t discern a problem, for example, with being told that there are many names for the color red. This makes the task of language acquisition a lot easier, and Newton’s Nest kids are exposed to all five languages, as well as English, every day. It’s no wonder they speak to dogs in Mandarin. And they know exactly what they’re saying—even when their parents don’t.


Lil Newton’s Nest
6900 West Fish Lake Road