Cottonwood embraces a developmental, play based philosophy of learning. We respect each child as a unique individual and believe that young children learn best through play and hands-on experiences. 


Play is the child's natural process for learning and development.  Within play’s natural learning environment children develop socially, emotionally, physically, and intellectually.


Children's learning and skill acquisition develops at the child’s own pace. Each child is respected and supported at each stage of development as they progress toward their own goals and potential.


Children learn best when they have some control over their learning, when activities are meaningful and relevant, and when they make choices regarding what materials they use and how and where they will use them. These choices empower children to take control of their own learning and to become intrinsically motivated – the most effective and engaging way to learn. 


Rather than a dispenser of knowledge, the teacher is primarily a facilitator enabling the child to learn from his/her own experience. The teacher prepares a nurturing environment, a wide variety of materials and activity, and ample opportunity to explore.


Curriculum includes all parts of the preschool day, including arrival, routines, care taking transitions, departure as well as planned activities and spontaneous play. Learning occurs in all areas of the classroom and is not an isolated event, drill, or activity.


Curriculum is created daily as the children's interests and ideas are freely explored. When encouraged to make their own choices, explore their own ideas, and follow their own interests, children are involved in the real process of discovering knowledge.