Our Approach

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” — John Dewey

A process of discovery

We recognize that each and every child has a distinct way of learning and engaging with those around them. Our teachers and staff actively listen and encourage our students as they navigate through this essential process of discovery.

A blonde woman helps a young child slide down a yellow slide.

Throughout their time at SMCCNS, children will work with one another to explore their world and actively participate in creating solutions to best prepare them for the next step in their education journey.

An adult woman stands in a classroom in front of nine children. She is showing them how to stretch.

Our Values

It is our hope that during their time at SMCCNS and beyond, children will deepen their love of learning and leave with the confidence to pursue their passions.


We are committed to incorporating and celebrating diversity in every aspect of our programming. We recognize and celebrate every child’s individual uniqueness.

Social & Emotional Growth

We are interested in a child’s intellectual growth. Through carefully planned activities and environments, both indoors and out, children are given time and space to create and grow.


When helping children with conflict resolution, teachers model a non-judgmental, problem-solving approach.

Developmentally Appropriate

Our philosophy is based on what is developmentally appropriate for each individual child. Respect for self and for others is an enduring goal.


Through play, discovery, and many rich experiences, children learn to understand themselves and to communicate effectively and respectfully with others.

Active Play

Children between ages two and a half to five learn through active play: exploring their environment and interacting with others.

It Takes a Village

Here at SMCCNS, we believe that education is a family endeavor. Our staff and teachers believe that a 'hands-on' and collaborative approach is essential, so all of our programs and activities are planned with input from our families as we create a program that centers around the interests and abilities of each unique child.

It is our hope that our students and their extended families feel support and nurtured in their child-reading efforts.

Three children sit at a table and learn to cut dough.

What Makes Us Different

Our teachers set us apart from the pack. They are drawn to the approach we use at SMCCNS because they see themselves as researchers—continuing to ask questions, reexamining their teaching practice, and inventing new ways to extend the children’s investigations. As trends in the field of early education are ever-evolving, we are always evaluating each new idea to determine if it would be enriching to our program.

At the same time, they enter in the child’s play to become co-collaborators in children’s discoveries and creations, sharing their joy and wonder. Because all teachers work in groups of two or three, they are able to listen intently and be present in the moment with the children.

Student Assessments

Cutouts of letters and paper people decorated by young children decorate a blue wall.

Our teachers and staff employ the Desired Results Developmental Profile (DRDP) as our assessment procedure. Results are shared with parents during parent-teacher conferences.

The DRDP Assessment method is one of the most advanced tools to share the child's progress through the school year by collecting all the documents and evidence to support our student success.

The reports represent a complete continuum assessment instrument for all children from early infancy up to kindergarten entry, including children with Individualized Family Service Plans and aligned with all volumes of California’s Infant &Toddler and Preschool Learning and Development Foundations was developed to ensure that all children could demonstrate their knowledge and skills.