“Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people.”

– Fred Rogers

“Children have always learned and created places for themselves through play.”

– Donna R. Barnes

100 languages

Children learn that they are a part of a strong, loving, and safe community from the very youngest ages at Ahava. We build our foundation on relationship-based care and education. Infants and young toddlers are helped to build a strong connection with one close caregiver to establish a secure base that will allow them to explore, build independence, and develop connection and empathy with their community as they grow. Older children are encouraged to develop a strong sense of identity as individuals and as a classroom and whole-school community.
Young children learn with their whole bodies, all at once, and in those areas that they are uniquely ready for. Ahava offers a truly play-based curriculum. We know that children learn best through the deep, self-directed play that needs freedom from adult redirection and intrusion. Adults carefully observe even the very youngest children’s interests and play schemas and build a classroom environment with many opportunities for the children to continue to explore those areas in which they are most interested.

Children continue to learn through their play during their pre-K year (indeed, well into adulthood!) although their ideas about what play looks like may begin to change. Our true play-based model continues through our mixed-age preschool and pre-K classrooms, giving each child the opportunity to develop at their own pace. Specific skills are taught through teacher-directed “workshops” to meet the needs of the older students’ play. For instance, a group of children interested in cooking may receive a workshop in how to use different measuring tools or a child interested in creating a book for her peers may need a workshop to help them learn how to form unfamiliar letters. Click here to learn more about “kindergarten readiness” and children's play. "When children play, they play naturally at the ever-advancing edges of their mental or physical abilities."
- Peter Gray,
play and education researcher

Child-centered learning means projects and topics of exploration are selected based on the children’s interests and that children’s ideas and opinions are respected. Teachers carefully observe children’s play and conversations. As topics of interest emerge, teachers offer conversations, materials, workshops, and activities to help the children deepen their learning. Children are prompted to tune in to their own curiosity and wonder, articulate their ideas, problem-solve and collaborate, and take ideas all the way from questioning, to exploration, and - as they get older - from planning to completing a product to reflecting.