Hilltop's Philosophy

Relationships at the Heart

At Hilltop, relationships are at the heart of everything we do – relationships among children, families, and faculty. We design our spaces and programs to foster these relationships, because we believe:

  • that at this time of life, children’s most critical and challenging task is learning how to be in the world with other people
  • that knowledge can be constructed through interactions with others, with materials, and with ideas
  • that the most powerful and interesting learning happens when children are working together, comparing theories and understandings, and challenging each other’s thinking

In everything we do at Hilltop – from the way we offer playdough on a table, to the ways we meet with families, to the way we interview job candidates – we seek intentional opportunities for relationship and collaboration.

Two Preschool Students Play

Emergent Curriculum

Hilltop’s curriculum is built from an active process of teachers observing, analyzing, and responding to children’s play and exploration in the classroom.

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Preschool Students Paint

Reggio Emilia

Hilltop draws inspiration from the child-centered philosophies and teaching practices of the schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy.

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Preschool Student Plays with Baby Doll

Anti-Bias Education

Hilltop is committed to fostering Anti-Bias dispositions that enable children to respectfully engage with the range of people they encounter in their classrooms, and in the wider world.

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Preschool Student Fingerpaints.

Image of the Child

Hilltop views children as capable and competent learners, able to make valuable contributions to their own, and each other’s, educational experience.

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Two Hilltop Parents with their Preschool Student

Image of the Family

Hilltop teachers look to families as the leading experts on their own child’s growth and development, and as crucial partners in their child’s educational process.

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Teacher helps Preschool Students Pick Flowers

Image of the Educator

Hilltop educators are curious, collaborative, and reflective thinkers, delighting in the opportunity to observe, reflect on, and support the growth of children.

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Authentic Childhood

“Think back to a treasured memory from your own childhood. What images or specific moments jump to mind? And what was it that made that particular memory so special?”

We will often pose this question to groups of parents or educators, and spend time recalling and discussing special times from our own early lives. It’s striking, each time we have this discussion, how many shared feelings and elements arise, often including:

  • long stretches of time
  • unsupervised play, hiding
  • play with open-ended materials
  • opportunities to get messy
  • exploration, adventure, the unknown
  • taking risks, independence
  • safety, security, not worrying
  • connecting with loved ones and friends
  • freedom, expansiveness
  • connecting with nature, playing outdoors
Preschool students jump off rock
In a school for young children, we must continually ask ourselves how we are ensuring that our children have access to the quality of childhood that we remember. In an era of scheduled playdates, hand sanitizer, and molded plastic playgrounds, we must remind ourselves of the authentic childhood that we’re committed to protecting. The children at our school only live their childhood once, and they’re spending a big piece of that childhood at Hilltop. We are humbled and energized by that responsibility, and we take joy in “Building on the Wonders of Childhood.”