Teton Valley Campus

Early Childhood

Empowering young learners from day one

The Early Childhood program is designed to engage curious learners ages 3-5. The Teton Valley Campus Early Childhood Program draws from Place-Based, Play-Based, Nature-Based, Reggio Emilia, Inquiry Driven, and Project-Based pedagogies. Through these integrated pedagogies we foster a holistic approach to the child’s social-emotional, physical, and cognitive development.

Early Childhood


We pursue an authentic educational approach grounded in the idea that children are competent, rich in potential, and capable of being the protagonists of their own learning. The multi-age preschool classroom focuses on the interests of the students, with teachers facilitating and guiding the process. Families are viewed as partners, empowered by teachers in supporting their children and through invitations to share their passions and family cultures with our classroom community.


Academic Engagement

Our program is rooted in principles of place-based education. Our philosophy is based in nature, play, and inquiry and inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy. We connect the best parts of many different educational approaches to support a child-led curriculum. We view our classroom and outdoor learning environments as the third teacher as they are intentionally designed to support various learning styles through hands-on, project-based activities.

Character Development

Social-emotional learning is integrated into every moment of every day. As children navigate their learning environments, they develop skills and practices that support them in their autonomy, relationships, and self care. This includes developing and navigating new relationships, practicing self-care skills, recognizing and naming emotions and feelings in themselves and others, problem solving, building resilience, and developing a sense of wonder around them.

Community Focus

Our program focuses on the idea of concentric circles of community. We begin by honoring the relationships children have already built within their families, the center of their circles. Then we start to develop community within our classroom, with peers and teachers. Moving out into our broader school community, children engage with the garden and our beloved animals. We connect with the older students in our school through community events and reading buddies. Moving out farther, children engage with the greater community by engaging with community experts and exploring The Woods in our valley.

“Before we sent our kids here, I couldn’t really imagine why everyone talked about Mountain Academy being such a unique experience from other preschool programs. But it is truly a magical place. My kids literally run into the classroom in the morning and come home chattering away about all their adventures outside. I think the focus on independence and letting kids guide their learning has led my once-shy toddler to be a more confident little girl who can even write her name already. It just blows me away.”

Preschool Parent '36

Guiding Principals of our

Approach to Early Childhood Education


Image of the Child

We see our children as whole people who enter our program with ideas, wonderings, and beliefs of their own. Children have agency and autonomy in their learning. Their inquiry and wonderings shape our curriculum and drive our Project Work. Children are supported by teachers to take risks, create solutions to problems, and dig deeply into their wonderings.

The Role of the Environment

‘The Environment’ refers to both our indoor and outdoor learning spaces. We view The Environment as a ‘third teacher’ in addition to the children and the teachers themselves. The design of our indoor and outdoor learning spaces, the materials available to children, and how the materials are presented to children are all intentionally crafted to empower children as agents of their own learning. The learning environment is dynamic, changing in response to the emergent interests and needs of the children.
Woods Days

Woods Days & Outdoor Exploration

‘The Woods’ and ‘The Play Yard’ are sites of learning and exploration that will support children far beyond childhood. Risk taking and risk assessment, scaffolded by teachers, supports children in their physical, cognitive, and social-emotional development. Extended opportunities for uninterrupted play outdoors creates space for children to develop strong relationships with ‘place’ and the natural world. Dressing for the weather and taking care of their bodies outside supports children in developing independence, resilience, and self care skills.

Image of the Family

Families play an essential role within the learning community. The partnership created between families, children, and teachers is the foundation that supports the success and wellbeing of the child at home, at school, and in their community. Families are valued for their knowledge and understanding of their child and , in partnership with teachers serving as early childhood experts, a team is created to support the child.

Teachers as Researchers

Teachers co-construct knowledge and wonder alongside children. Teachers wonder "What does the child know about this?" "What does the child wonder about this?" "How does this feel for the child?". Teachers ask questions, record conversations, take photographs, and revisit conversations and documentation with children to unearth answers to their wonderings.


Teachers work collaboratively amongst themselves and with children to make the learning of children visible. When children see their work and words displayed they see the respect that teachers hold for them and the importance of their play, ideas, and wonderings. There are several types of documentation that can typically be found in the classroom, including historical documentation, ongoing documentation, and daily documentation.

About Our Schedule

Early Childhood

(Sample daily schedule)

8:00 – Settling in – begin in the play yard in fall & spring, classroom in winter

9:00 – Morning Meeting

9:20 – Morning Snack

9:30 – Indoor Explorations & Project Work

10:45 – Transition to Outdoors

11:00 – Outdoor Explorations

12:00 – Lunch

1:00 – Rest Time

2:00 – Outdoor Play & Afternoon Snack

3:05 – Pick Up

Creative Minds Come to Life