Our Philosophy

Infants' Room (ages 3 months-24 months)

We not only respect babies, we demonstrate our respect every time we interact with them. Respecting a child means treating even the youngest infant as a unique human being, not as an object.

-Magda Gerber

Our practice in our Infants' Room is informed by the RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) philosophy. The RIE philosophy was originally developed by Magda Gerber, and has since been given further exposure by voices such as Janet Lansbury. The core principles of RIE all distill down to respect for the infant. At Seedlings, we believe deeply that every child should be honored and respected as a full human from birth. This belief can be seen in our practice in various ways...

Respect for the Child's Competence and Capabilities

We know that very young children are capable of participating fully in all the activities of their daily lives, from birth. This means that when we change a diaper, we slow down and communicate with them about what's happening, and we give them opportunities to help with their own care.

Respect for the Child's Communication

We know that children start communicating long before they utter any words. We understand the importance of forming a relationship with each child, so we are able to listen to what they are trying to communicate. We move and speak slowly when interacting with an infant, so they have opportunities to tell us--with their sounds, tones, body language, and facial expressions--what they need or want from us. 

Respect for the Child's Emotions

We make space for children to feel their authentic feelings, with a caring adult there to support them. We don't try to minimize or distract a child away from their feelings. From our calm presence, children learn how normal it is to experience all kinds of feelings, and that all feelings are okay.

Respect for the Child's Play

At Seedlings, we allow even the youngest child to direct their own play. For a young infant, play might look like feeling the texture of the floor under your hand or staring at some dust flecks in a beam of sunlight. Even the simplest self-chosen activity is full of value and depth, beyond what we see on the surface. We observe these beautiful moments of learning and development, without interrupting with our own adult agendas about what we think is most educational or optimally stimulating. We know that infants are easily overstimulated, and they are best served by a peaceful and calm environment with thoughtfully chosen play objects available. 

Respect for the Child's Development

We trust in the natural development of cognitive and motor skills in infants. When we provide infants with plenty of free time to explore their bodies and their surroundings,  they thrive in this trust. This gives children confidence--in their intuition, in the movement of their bodies, and in their ability to learn and discover--from the very beginning.

Children's Room (Ages 2 years-5 years)

Our pedagogical roots lie in Emergent Curriculum, Reggio, and play-based education. We believe that children learn and grow best when they are empowered to follow their own interests and passions. Seedlings provides children with an environment rich with opportunities for learning of all kinds, and the adults in the space give their attuned attention and observation. In this way, we are able to respect, encourage, and support each child on their unique path of development. We support all children to take ownership of their school, and encourage them to engage in discussion, conflict, and compromise with one another, as they navigate what it means to be part of a community. Seedlings is a place for messy play, rainy play, sunny play, challenging play, cooperative play, conflicts in play, child-made solutions to keep playing, creative play, risky play, loud play, quiet-concentration play, inspired play, open-ended play, innovative play...

Seedlings is a place that honors childhood and everything that it is meant to be.

Free Play

"Let the child be the scriptwriter, the director, and the actor in his own play."

-Magda Gerber

"Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood."

-Fred Rogers

Seedlings Playschool is guided by the belief that child-directed play is the best pathway to deep, meaningful learning. Seedlings is a rich, open-ended play environment, designed for children to explore, experiment, and delight in the world around them. Play is not something that we do as a break from “learning time.” At Seedlings, play is what we do all day every day because we know this is the way children learn best. Having these long chunks of time, in which they are completely free to play, allows children to find the kind of deep engagement that cannot be reached in a more limited time frame or under more structure or adult-direction. And perhaps most valuable of all, free play gives children opportunities to meaningfully interact with one another—to work together, communicate ideas, and collaborate, and to negotiate and work through conflict. These are skills that must be built through experience, and they are the skills that our world needs the next generation to have.

Emergent Curriculum

“Our flexibility and willingness to follow a child’s lead will allow remarkable things to happen, if we let them”

-Bev Bos 

“Be careful what you teach. It might interfere with what they are learning.”

-Magda Gerber

 As Teachers at Seedlings, our role is first to craft the learning environment, then to observe and build upon the child’s interests. The environment has been thoughtfully and intentionally created to provide opportunities for all types of developmental play and play schemas, so every child can become deeply engaged in play that meets their individual developmental stages and needs. Then with careful observation, we can take note of patterns that are occurring in the children’s topical interests (i.e. these kids love cars), schematic interests (i.e. these kids are fascinated by the rotation schema), sensory needs (i.e. These kids are craving proprioceptive input and heavy work), or social play stages (i.e. these kids are mostly engaging in parallel play). Understanding all this allows us to become collaborators and facilitators for the children’s play by meeting them where they are and building opportunities to go deeper with everything they are working on. 

Process Over Product

“It must not be forgotten that the basic law of children’s creativity is that it’s value lies not in its results, but in the process itself. It is not important what children create, but that they do create, that they exercise and implement creative imagination.”


“Art for toddlers and preschoolers is rarely about beauty. It’s all about exploration and personal expression.”

-Heather Shumaker

Adults are so focused on results and outcomes that it can be hard not to project this mindset onto our children. But when young children are allowed to follow their own creative process, the end product is rarely the focus. At Seedlings, children are invited to experiment with materials, get messy, and experience the process of creating with no adult expectations. This means there aren’t any smiling farm animal crafts to take home to mom and dad. And while that big brown splorp of paint might not look like much to a grown-up, the experience of creating it was certainly more meaningful to the child—as they explored the sensory experience of touching the paint, or discovered how colors change as they mix, or investigated how lines and circles could intersect and form new shapes together, or observed how a paint brush flung at high velocity could create a splatter pattern. This focus on process applies not only to art, but to so many of a child’s endeavors—the important part for a child is the “how” not the “what.”

Respectful Care

“We not only respect [children], we demonstrate our respect every time we interact with them. Respecting a child means treating even the youngest infant as a unique human being, not an object”

-Magda Gerber

“Trust children. Nothing could be more simple or more difficult. Difficult because to trust children we must first learn to trust ourselves, and most of us were taught as children that we could not be trusted.”

-John Holt

The care that young children receive and the relationships they build have the ability to shape how they relate to others for the rest of their lives. They are constantly looking to us as models of how to relate to others and how to expect others to relate to them. We believe that children are full humans from birth, deserving of all the respect and consideration one would give to an adult person. Which is not to say children should be treated just like adults—children have unique needs, abilities, and developmental realities that need to be deeply understood. What respect means to us is listening to a child’s communication (verbal or otherwise) with full attention. It means giving real consideration and weight to their perspectives and desires. It means taking them seriously when they want to be taken seriously and trying to see our interactions through their eyes. Our hope is that every exchange we have with a child in our care leaves them feeling loved and seen and understood.

Guidance, Community Expectations, and Social Skills

“In my world there are no bad kids, just impressionable, conflicted young people wrestling with emotions and impulses, trying to communicate their feelings and needs the only way they know how.”

-Janet Lansbury

“It’s OK if it’s not hurting people or property.”

-Heather Shumaker

“Kids do well when they can” 

-Ross Greene

At Seedlings, we believe in modeling as the primary source of children’s social learning and growth. This means that, at all times, adults engage with children in a way that is respectful and calm. We arrive at a set of expectations for our small community through discussion and mutual agreement. This process allows children to feel responsibility and ownership over the norms and agreements that exist in the community, and encourages them to stay accountable to one another. When problems or disagreements arise, children solve them through discussion with one another, with a trusted adult nearby to facilitate only as much as is needed. Even very small children can take responsibility for solving their own problems, when they are trusted and seen as competent and capable.