Early Childhood (PS/PK)

Emergent Curriculum Early Childhood Center


About the Program

Woodland’s Early Childhood Center immerses children of preschool and pre-kindergarten age in a caring atmosphere of wonder and exploration.

In an unhurried environment, children of preschool and pre-kindergarten age delve deeply into curated materials and learning experiences where they play, make observations, test theories, construct knowledge and communicate what they learn to peers and teachers.

Students direct themselves through much of our day in open-ended centers -- building, crafting, reading, pretending, gardening, drawing, and playing with their peers. These centers change and grow through the year and support the physical, social, emotional, language and cognitive areas of development. Our program helps children:

  • Develop a sense of self, confidence and responsibility
  • Foster meaningful peer and teacher relationships
  • Build problem solving skills
  • Think logically and symbolically
  • Nurture creativity
  • Build stamina and focus
  • Develop listening, speaking, reading and writing skills
  • Achieve fine and gross motor skills

To build a strong foundation for literacy and numeracy, teachers bring children of similar readiness together in small groups throughout the day to deliver targeted academic instruction. Specialist teachers in Science, Music, Spanish and Physical Education visit the classroom weekly for enrichment classes.

Rich Opportunities for Social and Emotional Development

In our mix-aged environment (Preschool and Pre-Kindergarten combined), children learn and grow together and cooperation replaces competition. Older children display leadership skills showing respect and compassion for younger children. Younger children adore and emulate their older mentors. We deeply value the social, emotional and cognitive learning that children experience when they are grouped in a mixed aged, family-like setting.

Children develop keen executive function skills as they self regulate in different settings throughout the indoor and outdoor classrooms. They can choose to have time alone, share time with a friend or small group. This independence enables children to be self-aware and self-directed.

Preschool = 3 years old by September 1

Pre-Kindergarten = 4 years old by September 1

Sample Schedule

Sample Schedule


7:30 a.m. - 8:30 a.m. (Before School)
Morning Extended Care

8:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
School Starts
Indoor/Outdoor Centers

10:00 a.m. - 10:20 a.m.

10:20 a.m. - 10:40 a.m.
Morning Circle

10:40 a.m. - 11:10 a.m.
Specialist Class

11:10 a.m. - 12:20 p.m.
Indoor/Outdoor Centers

12:20 p.m. - 12:40 p.m.

12:40 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Story Time

1:00 p.m.
Rest Time

After Rest
Outdoor Centers & Play

3:00 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.

3:15 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Closing Circle
School Ends

3:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. (After School)
Afternoon Extended Care

Inquiry Based

The Inquiry Based Approach

In recent years, critical research has supported student-centered play and exploration as the best environment for young children to develop cognition, language and crucial social skills.

Some basic tenants include:

  • Children are seen as strong and capable and filled with wonder about their world
  • Children’s interests drive their own learning and experiences
  • Children are engaged in activities that use multiple modalities -- touching, moving, listening, and observing
  • Children develop and explore relationships with other children, adults and the environment
  • Children have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves
  • Children and adults work collaboratively together to investigate, explore, and search for answers
Reggio Inspired Early Childhood Center Woodland School


"The Three Teachers"

We believe that there are "three teachers" that inspire learning in young children. All three elements work together to help children become capable, creative, and confident.

I. The Child along with his/her peers

Children Empowered to Learn

Some educational models view children as passive learners who sit and listen, follow directions, replicate or regurgitate what’s been presented. For our youngest learners this style of instruction imprints the notion that the locus of knowledge rests in adult hands.

Alternatively, inquiry-driven instruction asks children to be active learners. Children are curious about the world and how it works. They have a myriad of ways of thinking, exploring, discovering and learning—much of which is done through play. By listening to them and tuning into their interests and questions, we find new opportunities for them to investigate, explore their world, and grow.

II. The Adults including educators and parents

Teachers As Researchers and Guides

Our role as teachers is to know and understand each child well. To do this, teachers listen closely to what children say and make careful observations of their behavior and their interactions. With this knowledge, working alongside our students, teachers guide learning experiences carefully with questions and provocations. They reflect with children and prompt next steps. Grounded in respectful interactions, teachers are able to successfully support children’s individual needs, build on their wonder, support their joy, and help every child realize their potential.

Teachers partner with parents as collaborators. They share observations and experiences with one another to offer insights. Parents are welcome to join the class to volunteer or share what’s important to their family -- culture, experiences, etc. -- with the class. To help foster communication, teachers document the learning of children in a comprehensive portfolio to share with parents.

III. The Environment

Environment as the Third Teacher

Our indoor and outdoor spaces are designed to nurture a child’s sense of wonder and are carefully curated throughout the year to offer new opportunities for both learning and inspiration. The space is playful and warm, reflecting childhood itself. Scaled for our youngest learners, the environment encourages them to feel at home and provide opportunities for collaboration and exploration.

ECC Staff

Felicity Ackers

Director of Early Childhood Center

Felicity Ackers has 23 years of experience in early childhood education and 19 years of service at Woodland School. Her teaching philosophy involves creating a nurturing environment tailored to each child’s individual academic and social-emotional needs. She encourages students to develop communication and fine and gross motor skills through play and self-directed activities. To unleash the power of imagination, creativity, and wonder, Ms. Ackers incorporates stories, arts/crafts, and role-playing into the classroom. She looks forward to witnessing children thrive and transition to Kindergarten with Woodland’s Early Childhood Program.

What Inspired You to Become A Teacher?
I had a very nurturing and passionate fourth grade teacher who took a real interest in her students, always motivating and cheering us on. Since then, I have always wanted to be a teacher and emulate her energy and enthusiasm.

Kayla Clark

Kayla is beginning her teaching career here at Woodland in the early childhood center. Kayla grew up in the Bay Area graduating from Carlmont High School. Over the past 10 years she has taught gymnastics to girls and boys ages ranging from 3-18. She is completing her Associates Degree at Cañada College in Early Childhood Education.

What Inspired You To Become A Teacher?
Since a young age, I have always had a passion in helping children grow on different levels. After teaching gymnastics to a wide range of children I found the younger age group to be so exciting and interesting! Now that I have the opportunity to teach children more than coordination, I am beyond excited to continue to watch them grow.

Scott Harding

Mr. Harding joins Woodland after spending over a dozen years on the East Coast as both an early childhood educator and administrator. He began his career with Teach for America and most recently served as the founding Director of Early Childhood Education at a new public school in the District of Columbia. In 2012, Mr. Harding received the Rubenstein Award for Highly Effective Teaching, presented by DC Public Schools. Mr. Harding earned his B.S. in Psychology from Pennsylvania State University and his M.Ed. from George Mason University. In his free time, Mr. Harding enjoys reading, watching movies, traveling, exploring new restaurants, and learning new skills.

What inspired you to become a teacher?
I became a teacher because I strongly believe that educating young children is the most important thing we can do to help build a better world. Supporting the development of compassionate critical thinkers is an essential component to our democratic society, and my goal is to build lifelong learners who love (and feel loved at) school.

Ayeshah Tahirah

Ayeshah Tahirah holds a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the College of Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has enjoyed teaching young children in the classroom for the past decade. Ayeshah has taught internationally in Turkey, Singapore, and Austria, where she grew immensely, working with culturally diverse students ranging in age from four through six. Ayeshah helped develop and implement an international curriculum focused on student-centered, balanced, whole-child creative learning. She has also taught American curricula. Ayeshah’s aim as an educator is to ensure that each student feels supported, happy, safe, engaged and challenged. She is committed to fostering the growth of the whole individual, focusing on their social, emotional, physical and mental development, all while catering to a child's specific needs and learning style. Besides teaching, Ayeshah’s other passions include traveling, photography, hiking and writing.

Lauren Weingram