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Respect, Play and Community


The driving values of Respect, Play and Community are not unique to the Dewey School, but our distinctive perspective and approach is.  


Children are capable and unique individuals that are treated and spoken to  like people, establishing a relationship of mutual respect. We trust them to figure things out and celebrate their unique approach to challenges. We accept children’s varied experience and reactions, encouraging them to work toward intrinsic motivation for safety, compassion and perseverance. 


At the Dewey School, play is not what happens in between learning; it is the space in which children internalize the most important lessons. Play is where children have the freedom to choose activities of interest, to engage with the world creatively and to imaginatively solve problems. Play is where they find joy in and learn from the natural world with the ability to take physical risks and learn their limits. 


Respecting and participating in community is practiced both inside and outside of the classroom. Within the classroom children are given a safe space to learn the art of negotiation and conflict resolution as chances to experience how different interactions play out. Our “village” includes parents that are able to support and connect with one another through our CAP (Caregivers as Partners) program as well as the local and wider communities.


Most every day we will explore some facet of 700 acres of the Canterbury Shaker Village; its meadows, orchards, forests, ponds, streams, hills, trails...all that makes the Canterbury Shaker Village such an incredible preservation of natural space.

Read on to find out more about Nature-based education...


While we are 4,500 miles away from the community of Reggio Emilia, Italy, the influence of the Reggio Emilia Approach (REA) to education has been influential in the United States for many years.  Voted in 1991 as one of the best learning approaches, REA is not a program, but a philosophy...a way of viewing children.....

Play-based Early Learning

According to the American Association of Pediatrics, “play is so important to optimal child development that it has been recognized by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child.Every child deserves the opportunity to develop to their unique potential, child advocates must consider all factors that interfere with optimal development and press for circumstances that allow each child to fully reap the advantages associated with play.”

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