A Community of Learners

Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach to learning, our children and teachers are co-constructors of knowledge!  The school is a reflection of its community.  Canterbury and its surrounding towns are wealthy in community resources; from farmers to talented artisans and musicians, to outdoors specialists, to business owners, to mindfulness experts, there are many connections to be made. Parents, of course, are a welcome and valuable collaborator in our learning.

Using the Environment as the Third Teacher

The Grounds: Situated on nearly 700 acres of forest, pasture, gardens, and buildings, the historic museum setting of the Canterbury Shaker Village (a National Historic Landmark) provides the ideal nature-based learning environment for children to explore daily. From observations to explorations, children will have nature as well as the Village to inspire their imagination and curiosities.  Through frequent interactions with museum staff, children will learn more about the land, beautiful craftsmanship, and ingenuity of the Shakers as well as their dog, Dewey.  Students and families will also have the opportunity to garden in the Shaker Gardens; doing the "heavy" work of gardening;  planting, nurturing seeds, and growing their knowledge of where food comes from. 

The Classroom Space: In keeping with the Shaker design elements, children will find plenty of pegs, neutral colors, natural or wood furnishings and many provocations to challenge themselves.  The Dewey School is located in the former Shaker Table building offering an incredibly beautiful classroom space graced with natural light.  The integral art studio (Atelier) is open and provides ample opportunity to explore light, color, and creation of all kinds.  With easy parking and a green space for gathering, the school's private entrance on the west side of the building  welcomes visitors, families, and students.  

A Sample of our Day 

(8:00-3:00 p.m)

We will be learning inside and out at The Dewey School! Just as we breathe, we will have active learning (inhale) followed by peaceful reflection (exhale). We’ll take our time in all that we do providing opportunity for the children to be our guides as we move through the day from active to reflective, peaceful learning. A full day may look something like this:




Inhale: Work Time - Children are introduced to materials and invitations of inquiry. The teacher will help facilitate community by guiding children in their communication with one another, problem solving, kindness, and courtesies. Many days children may begin their day outside during this period, in unstructured play, or in a guided activity. 


Snack:  A nourishing snack is provided and eaten in community at the tables inside or out.  


Exhale: Morning Circle- may be indoors or out. This gathering includes greeting songs, mindfulness moments, weather, calendar, and introduction of new activities. Being together in community sets the tone for our day together.



Inhale: Group time-indoors or out. This gathering is for songs, stories, and group large motor activities such as games, parachute, music, and yoga. Outside, we will explore the many acres of the property walking the Village side down Scat Alley, through the granite beds, looking for stomping puddles or viewing the beaver and lodge from Boys Island.  On the world side, we'll explore our Amphibian Forest, Fairy Forest, or hike to Meadow Pond. We will track the wildlife and meet in our own child created beaver lodge.



We will end our morning in song as we say goodbye to our morning friends and ready ourselves for lunch.



Lunch time-inside or out.



Inhale: Outdoor adventures. Activities include time for unstructured play and/or guided explorations in nature. Inside this is a time for choice; puzzles, books, blocks, studio, etc.


Exhale:  Rest time, story time, reflecting the morning, activities may be based on morning topics, allowing the opportunity to further investigate both classroom and outdoor interests.


After 3:00

Outdoor time. 

Caregivers as Partners (CAP)

Families come in many shapes and sizes! We value the caregivers of our students and feel they are a vital partner in the success of our children.  Caregivers are the first teachers, the bedtime hug-givers, story-readers, the foundation layers, and the advocates!  At The Dewey School, we value the input and participation of our caregivers.  Caregivers as Partners (CAP) will help to foster relationships between families as they support one another, help to organize Dewey School community activities and educational workshops, offer feedback to The Dewey School Board of Directors, and partner closely with teachers.


It is our hope that you will take an active interest in our school community. We look forward to partnering with you.

Pre-enrollment Registration 


Our Offerings

Your child will be welcome in our multi-aged enrollment options Monday -Friday. Contact us for more information.

Our Mission

 The Dewey School offers early learning rooted in play and exploration of the natural world.