We support a child’s natural curiosity and joy of discovery by creating a nurturing learning environment where children feel comfortable exploring and making sense of the world around them. Using open-ended materials such as blocks, paint, and sand, our children delight in putting their ideas into action. Our play-based curriculum also serves to address the emotional, social, cognitive, and physical needs of the child.

Our low child-teacher ratio gives each child the opportunity to develop warm and trusting relationships with their teachers. Our experienced teachers are sensitive to the developmental issues of young children and to their needs within a group setting. They provide children the individual attention needed to make a secure and healthy separation from home and allow them to progress in accord with their own developmental pace, learning style, and temperament.

Our goal is to help each child develop a sense of themself as a competent and confident person, someone whose feelings, capacities, and interests are validated, respected, and encouraged to grow. A useful and effective approach in guiding the children is modeling. This is an important tool that reflects the behavior and respect that we aim to pass on to the children in a natural and meaningful way. By demonstrating essential behaviors, for example saying “I don’t like when you…” and “I feel angry because…,” we help children learn through observation.

Children also learn through developmentally appropriate play-based activities. Through sand and water exploration, art experiences, manipulative materials, block building and dramatic play, we provide children with opportunities to learn concepts and master skills. Throughout the day and across the curriculum our teachers guide children towards creative learning and introduce them to ideas that reflect their developmental needs and specific interests. We help them develop a positive self-concept as confident, competent, and thoughtful individuals who respect themselves and others in their community. Our approach in the classroom also provides our children with opportunities to learn about each other, themselves, and the diverse world around them.


Our approach

Our goal is for all our students to leave the Collective joyful and empowered, confident and prepared for their next steps in life. This coincides with the seven specific skills that Ellen Galinsky (President and Co-Founder of the Families and Work Institute) feels engender lifelong learning:

focus and self-control;



making connections;

critical thinking;

taking on challenges;

self-directed, engaged learning.

We believe that all children are competent human beings ready to be challenged. We are committed to working in depth with each child to ensure that these skills are consistently evolving.


What it looks like

A pair of children makes a rocket ship out of blocks and takes turns looking for space creatures through their homemade telescope.

A class of children in the park plays with a parachute, raising it up and down by coordinating their arm motions.

At the art table, children in a 3s/4s classroom prepare to create their self-portraits by looking at their eye, mouth, and hair color in handheld mirrors, and by comparing their skin color with a selection of multicultural paints, markers, and construction paper.

A group of children sits together in their classroom. They count how many large beads they add to their shoestring, then comment on how heavy their strings are getting, saying, “Isn’t it getting heavier and heavier?”

With scrap paper from the classroom, children learn how to make new sheets of paper using a blender and mesh screens.

A child who loves games is taught how to play a card game called BLINK in which children have to distinguish between color, number, and shape while figuring out which card to play.

After snack, the children clean up their own places, walk over to the bookshelf, independently choose a book, and then browse through the pages until all children are finished.

A child who loves to scribble, draw, and write is given a blank book to compose and illustrate their very own story.

A class of children walks to a local outdoor market where their teachers show them the huge selection of pumpkins, ranging in size from the enormous to the very tiny. Together they buy some small pumpkins and bring them back to school to paint and decorate.

A child who knocks down a friend’s block building hears “I don’t like it when you knock down my blocks” from the friend, and a teacher helps the two children talk through the situation.

In the dramatic play area, a 2-year-old places a pot in the pretend oven to make dinner for their babies.

At circle time the classes of 3- and 4-year-olds figure out how many children came to school that day by counting the children sitting in the circle.

A class of children collects leaves in the park. After nap the children make a giant leaf collage together by arranging and placing their collected leaves on a long sheet of contact paper while observing the different colors and shapes of the leaves.