The Center for Early Education was founded as The School for Nursery Years.

Since the beginning, our expertise has been in meeting the developmental needs of young children while preparing them for elementary school education.
Our program begins with a half-day or full-day Toddler experience followed by two years of Early Childhood: our EC1 and EC2 programs. Visit our admissions page for information about age at enrollment and how to apply.

Toddler Program

Play-Based Exploration
The Toddler program focuses on teaching children to meet their individual interests and needs while also interacting successfully as part of a group. The day begins with playtime on the Toddler yard where children engage in a wide variety of activities, such as water play, painting, music, and more.
In their classroom, toddlers experience the play-based curriculum through activity centers that include blocks, art materials, dolls, trucks, dress-up clothes, and more. Learning how to sit in a group, listen to a story, and explore seasons and days of the week are engaging activities for a toddler. Circle time is an important experience for the children, and teachers remain conscious of each child’s developmental stage.

A Day In The Life of Toddlers
The Toddler program is designed with developmental needs and interest-driven curricula in mind. Children engage in a variety of indoor and outdoor activities throughout the day, which stimulate their curiosity, support cognitive development in language, fine and gross motor skills, and social-emotional well-being. Each Toddler classroom has 17 children and 3 teachers.

A typical day includes arrival, outdoor play, indoor play/choice time, snack, lunch, rest, and closing time.

Toddlers also enjoy working with our Music, Library, and P.E. specialist teachers once a week, all of whom visit the children at the Toddler House.
In their classroom, toddlers experiment with an endless variety of art and sensory materials. They can also choose to play in deliberate learning centers such as the dramatic play area, blocks/building materials, trucks/vehicles, games and sorting activities, as well spend time in the quiet and cozy book corner.

Meetings and circle times are an essential part of the toddler school experience. Learning how to sit in a group, listen and respond, and follow a multitude of carefully designed routines cultivates a community of young learners who start out playing in parallel and slowly start to seek each other out by name to play with intention and purpose. Children listen to stories, sing songs together, learn about the plans for the day, share exciting news from home, and become a “family” at school.

The Toddler program runs five days a week, with Half- or Full-Day options. Families indicate their program preference when they apply to the program and are offered either a Half- or Full-Day schedule based on preference and availability. We do not offer an afternoon drop-in option.

Toddler - Half- and Full-Day Options
  • Half-Day Program: 9:00 AM-Noon (Snack/No Lunch)
  • Full-Day Program: 9:00 AM-3:00 PM (Snack/Lunch and Rest)

List of 4 frequently asked questions.

  • Are snacks and meals provided in the Toddler Program?

    The Center provides daily snacks in the morning and afternoon for all students. Families are welcome to send snacks from home each day as well. Full-Day students should bring a packed, healthy lunch from home that is ready to eat! We encourage families to send foods they know their toddlers will love to eat and can feed themselves independently.

    We are a nut aware school, and do not allow children to bring nut products of any kind.
  • What is the separation process like in Toddlers?

    The Toddler program emphasizes the developmental importance of separation and transitioning toddlers to a school setting. Even if your child has been in a program prior to entering The Center, it is important to allow children time and space to adjust to new surroundings and people. The teachers work closely with families to make sure that the separation plan supports the child and is comfortable for everyone helping with the process. We begin the school year with an adjustment schedule for the first two and a half weeks, which allows children to ease into the spaces and routines, and develop comfort and familiarity with teachers at a pace that matches their developmental readiness. During this time we steadily increase the amount of time they are at school each day, until they are at their full half- or whole-day program. Children who need more time to separate beyond the adjustment schedule will be supported as needed.

    Toddler families should anticipate having a parent/guardian available to participate in the transition/separation process for the first two and a half weeks of the school year.
  • Do children have a daily rest time?

    Rest is an important part of a Toddler’s day. All Full-Day Toddlers participate in rest time, even if they do not rest at home. If your child is tired they will be encouraged to rest accordingly. If your child is no longer resting, you may find that once school begins, they do, in fact, need to rest again daily. Children who don’t sleep are expected to stay on their mats quietly, while they cuddle their lovey and listen to the soft music playing with teachers facilitating the resting process. Children rest on mats spread out throughout the classroom. Families provide a sheet, blanket, and a lovey of choice, for their child to rest with. These items are sent home at the end of each week to be washed and returned on Monday.
  • Do you require Toddlers to be toilet trained before beginning school?

    Toddlers are not required to be potty trained before they begin the Toddler Program. Some children are fully potty trained before beginning Toddlers, some have not used the potty at all, and many are somewhere in between. We encourage the process throughout the school year, with the intention that children are trained, or well on their way, by the start of EC1. During the school day, teachers change children’s diapers or pull-ups as needed, offer opportunities to practice using the potty, and encourage practice wearing underwear at school. The teachers will be in communication with you about what stage of readiness your child is at in order to facilitate the process in a developmentally appropriate way. Accidents will happen, and we’ll be ready for them! No child is made to feel badly during this process. Toilet training is a huge milestone for toddlers and we are here to partner with families to help children be successful.

Early Childhood 1 (EC1) & Early Childhood 2 (EC2)

Cultivating Autonomy & Community-Mindedness  
The EC1 (3-4 years) and EC2 (4-5 years) programs are designed for preschool-aged children transitioning from Toddlers or other school programs or just starting out. Each classroom is composed of 22 children and 3 teachers. Both the EC1 and EC2 focus on play-based learning.

Children engage in experiential and teacher-guided explorations daily, with an appropriately matched emphasis on developmental learning and readiness.

A Day In The Life of EC1/EC2
The EC1 and EC2 Programs run five days a week. We do not offer two- or three-day options. Consistent routines and predictable patterns are key for children to develop a sense of belonging and security. 

A typical day includes outdoor play, indoor choice time, Specialist time (Library; PE), snack, lunch, and rest time.

The Early Childhood Curriculum is geared toward the healthy development of identity and self-esteem, motor skills, creativity, self-awareness, self-care, and autonomy.

EC1 and EC2 utilize an emergent approach to language, literacy, and math concepts. This allows children to engage with letter sounds, words, numbers, and counting through exposure, play, and exploration. We do not employ rote practice or memorization as a means to build skills. Instead, through hands-on experiences, children are able to develop the foundations for emergent literacy and math.

Teachers engage students with themed curriculum units in science, art, math, and literature. Teachers follow a developmental framework to design experiences that invite curiosity and open-ended exploration, where children learn about how to ask questions and seek out answers.

Children are encouraged to share their thinking and findings, problem-solve, and build off of their interests and strengths, as well as develop areas for growth, with the careful guidance of our expert early childhood teachers.  

EC2 is a natural extension and progression of EC1 and offers a meaningful developmental trajectory for preschool students before moving on to Kindergarten.

EC1 - Half- and Full-Day Options
  • Half Day 9am-12pm (Snack/No Lunch) 
  • Full Day 9am-3pm (Snack/Lunch and Rest) 
EC2 - Full-Day Only 
  • Full Day 9am-3pm (Snack/Lunch and Rest)

List of 1 frequently asked questions.

  • What is the separation process like in EC1 and EC2?

    Children in these groups may continue to experience some level of separation. This is typically within developmental range, and teachers will work with families to support students with what they need.

    Communication with teachers about creating a consistent plan for arrival is essential in establishing a successful and comfortable separation routine.

Early Childhood Curriculum Highlights

List of 3 items.

  • Toddlers - Author Studies

    Toddlers love looking at books, and children read lots of books in all of the EC classrooms.
    Toddler classrooms have been developing a special unit called Author Studies designed to help young children connect even more deeply with books. The purpose is to ensure that children are exposed to a wonderful variety of authors, themes, and concepts from a young age to ensure a love for stories, books, and eventually, reading.

    One way to complete an Author Study is to choose books based on a theme and explore multiple authors whose books address a similar theme. This approach is a great way to explore some of our most loved themes in Toddlers, such as feelings, friendships, families, animals, bugs, and more! It is also a really important way for young children to explore cultures and diversity of people through authors, themes, and topics.
  • EC1 - Picture Book Math Curriculum

    Preschool-aged children have a natural curiosity about numbers and counting.
    Their developmental propensity is to categorize and make sense of the world around them, and they encounter math well before they know what numbers or algorithms are. This process involves learning to count and understanding quantities and emergent mathematical concepts. Children encounter shapes in every aspect of daily life, too, and simultaneously learn about form and function.

    Another way children interact with math daily is through 1:1 matching, whether matching a shoe to a foot or counting how many bites of growing food mom or dad wants them to eat before they can have their cookie! In school, we count our snacks to ensure we are only taking what we need and “sharing and caring” with friends.

    Utilizing math-themed picture books, teachers engage students in developing awareness and understanding of mathematical concepts. They read and discuss the concepts and content of the books, followed by hands-on, small-group activities related to the math concepts in the book. The concepts can be extended for reinforcement and expanded on for more complex explorations.
  • EC2 - Sounds in Motion

    Sounds In Motion (SIM) is a kinesthetic phonemic awareness program designed for preschoolers to develop auditory discrimination for letter sounds using movement and sound associations.
    SIM incorporates aspects of movement, linguistics, and stages of brain development to maximize potential learning for emergent literacy development.

    The goal of SIM is to improve students' auditory discrimination abilities and to solidify their sound-symbol correspondence and phonemic awareness skills. Phonemes are the smallest parts of speech sounds, identified by the single sounds each letter makes. Developing strong phonemic awareness is an essential skill for your children to fully understand the speech-to-print connection, which is a critical foundation and indication for later success with reading.
    As adults who learned to read many years ago, we take the process of learning to match letter sounds with their symbols for granted. However, children who have difficulty with phonological awareness when they are learning to read and spell often have weak phonemic abilities or understanding.

    Years ago, singing the alphabet was one way schools taught children the sequence of letters. Educators in recent years, however, have determined that learning letter names in this rote manner doesn’t effectively develop phonemic awareness or enhance speech-to-print connections. This is one reason The Center doesn’t focus on learning the alphabet song but rather incorporates speech-to-print awareness through other more meaningful activities like initial sound matching, interactive games and activities, name identification, high-frequency words, and labeling, as well as interest-driven activities related to letters, sounds, and pre-reading skills. 

    Introducing the SIM program will be a wonderful addition to the EC2 experience and help all students develop their phonemic awareness in a fun and engaging way.
The Center for Early Education, a socio-economically and culturally diverse independent school for children, toddlers through grade six, strives to graduate students who are joyful, resilient, lifelong learners. The Center embraces a philosophy of education that combines a nurturing, inclusive learning environment with an increasingly challenging academic program that addresses the developmental needs of each child.