Pedagogical Philosophy

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.

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

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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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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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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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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 families 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

In a center for young children, we must continually ask ourselves how we are ensuring that our children have access to the quality of childhood that they will 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 in our centers 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.”

Mentor Educators