At Central Branch, we take play seriously.


Play is how children rehearse the connections that will make life meaningful. It is how their brains establish links between feelings and language, between themselves and others who may look or act quite differently.

Young children also learn by doing, by actively working with things in their environment, using all their senses. At Central Branch, we put emphasis on the whole child: physical, emotional, intellectual, and linguistic.

Creativity is experienced through painting, drawing, building, music, movement, dramatic play, and story-telling. Self-motivation is encouraged by much individual choice of activities. However, because children teach and learn from each other, there is a lot of emphasis on cooperative play.


A play-based education means that we are able to allow the play and the curriculum to inform one another. Children have an endless supply of imaginative initiative when it comes to play and learning. We provide various activity prompts and then let the children transform it into their own experience, following along and supporting as and when necessary.

Time does not mean to children what it means to adults. While we have set times for drop offs and pick ups, and routines that structure our days, strict schedules are not imposed upon the children. If immersed in an activity that activates and engages the entire class, we don’t interrupt it just for the sake of changing activities.

Academics alone are not stressed. In other words, we don’t emphasize letters or numbers. Rather, we focus on the development of language as a crucial vehicle for self-expression and communication; math takes shape through activities involving classification, investigating dynamics, and exploring spatial relations.

Central Branch is made up of a diverse community of children and their families. Which we not only embrace but celebrate.

The school’s behavioral expectations are based on an understanding of child development and individual differences between children. Limits are clear and there are as few  “no’s” and “don’ts” as possible.

Children are taught that they may not be destructive of materials or toys, do what is dangerous to themselves, or is physically or emotionally damaging to others. The staff models, and positively reinforces, the kinds of behaviors we wish children to learn. Teachers work closely with each other and with families to ensure consistent expectation between home and school.

We use a variety of tools to identify and record the growth of your child. Through observation, interaction, classroom activities and work, and the High Scope COR Observation Record, we document the development of your child throughout the year. Your input is important and integral to this process. We have two formal caregiver/teacher check-ins a year and many, many informal conversations. Our communication and connection with you helps us to identify the growth that is taking place as your child plays, tries out new ideas, solves problems, and makes new friends.

Typically, we enroll several classes of children close in age – a 2/3’s class, a 3/4’s class – and a couple of mixed-aged (3-5’s) classes. Classes meet in their own rooms, with access to shared indoor and outdoor spaces for active play. Children visit between groups occasionally with classes joining each other for outdoor activities.

For the 2020-2021 school year we have altered our program to provide an environment that is safer for families and staff during the pandemic.  Classes meet outdoors (with a few exceptions such as inclement weather) and there is no interaction between classes. Please read our COVID-19 Handbook for more detailed information about the steps we have taken during this time.

Summer Program

Central Branch provides a wonderful summer program for 3 to 6 year-olds. We play and explore outdoors every single day. Participants enjoy songs, arts and crafts, sports, walks to the beach, short bus rides, and so much more!

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