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Pedagogy & Research

The Science Behind Creativity

Childhood is a magical time when cardboard boxes can turn into castles or spaceships, and teddy bears can request extra sugar in their tea. Creativity may be a hallmark of childhood, but it is not just child’s play. In fact, research suggests that identifying and nurturing creative potential in the early years of childhood is crucial for raising the next generation of innovators whose mindset and problem solving skills will solve today’s (and tomorrow’s) greatest challenges (Cramond, MatthewsMorgan, Bandalos, & Zuo, 2005; Root-Bernstein & Root-Bernstein, 2006; Runco, Millar, Acar, & Cramond, 2010).

Fostering creativity in early childhood is at the heart of the work we do at SLCC. We know that creativity does not solely define our artistic endeavors but also requires the use of scientific theory, mathematics, and communication. The following cognitive skills have been defined by researchers as measurable creative faculties in the brain and are linked to stronger problem-solving skills in future academic life. Additionally, these six critical components for creativity are empirically linked to stronger reading, math, and prosocial skills.

A Common Myth Debunked

Children do not need to learn how to read in preschool. Read about how play-based learning creates the foundation for print literacy and understand the negative effects of overly-directed preschool instruction on later school performance here.

Six Components of Creativity

01 Flexibility of Thought

The interaction of intelligence and creativity often begins with the flexible combination and modification of prior concepts or strategies to produce new representations. Children can experience flexibility by seeing from different perspectives, remaining open to new and challenging experiences, or (especially as they become older) gaining awareness of how only seeing from a single perspective can limit their creativity. -Inspiring a Generation to Create, Center for Childhood Creativity, 2015

A child’s ability to be flexible develops their theory of mind, empathy, collaboration, and negotiation skills. These skills are also defined as prosocial skills in the field of early childhood education. In other words, these skills are a part of the tool kit children need in order to play with others, resolve conflicts, and communicate their needs in socially constructive ways.

03 Divergent & Convergent Thinking

Exploratory learning allows for divergent thinking (i.e., the creative process of generating many ideas before settling on a solution) followed by convergent thinking (an analytical process of selecting the most appropriate idea for the challenge at hand). By encouraging children to brainstorm possible ideas or approaches, adults teach that real-world problems rarely have one correct answer. -Inspiring a Generation to Create, Center for Childhood Creativity, 2015

These cognitive faculties equip us with more ways to solve problems, resolve social conflicts, and develop strong collaboration skills. To gain a better understanding of the difference between convergent and divergent thinking, watch this video with Harvard Professor, Anne Manning.

02 Risk-Taking

Little and Sweller (2014) found that having natural elements in the outdoor environment provides a certain element of risk that allows children to express themselves, explore, and learn about their bodies’ capabilities. Taking risk in play gives children the opportunity to test their own limits and discover new skills in themselves. -Risk-taking, pretend play, and resilience in early childhood, McKenzie Emery, Childcare Quarterly, 2017

A child’s ability to take risks allows for new experiences, knowledge, and meaning to be acquired. When children try new experiences, they develop a stronger sense of self and confidence as a result. Our ability to take risks in childhood propels our abilities to become strong leaders and innovators as adults.

04 Active Exploration & Child-Directed Play

Studies show that children who are active participants in the discovery of knowledge and meaning through child-directed play are more likely to retain and recall new information. Additionally, children who are given ample time to direct their own play with a teacher’s guidance and developmental knowledge will most likely discover more ways to engage with materials and the world around them. Read what UC Berkeley Professor and Researcher, Alison Gopnik has to say about it here.

05 Imagination

Our abilities to work together, negotiate our varying needs, develop different perspectives, understand each other’s differences, build empathy, and sustain community require us to be collaborative. As a result, we are more able to solve the world’s problems with each other in the most creative ways possible. Within the classroom context, children are given regular opportunities to work together in small and large group settings. Mixed-age learning environments are intentionally designed to foster collaborative skill-building.

We invite you to watch one of Kathy Hirsh-Pasek’s lectures on collaboration. She is the Stanley and Deborah Lefkowitz Professor of Psychology at Temple University in Philadelphia. You can view it here.

06 Collaboration

Our abilities to work together, negotiate our varying needs, develop different perspectives, understand each other’s differences, build empathy, and sustain community require us to be collaborative. As a result, we are more able to solve the world’s problems with each other in the most creative ways possible. Within the classroom context, children are given regular opportunities to work together in small and large group settings. Mixed-age learning environments are intentionally designed to foster collaborative skill-building.

We invite you to watch one of Kathy Hirsh-Pasek’s lectures on collaboration. She is the Stanley and Deborah Lefkowitz Professor of Psychology at Temple University in Philadelphia. You can view it here.

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 At SLCC, we believe every child is a competent learner who deserves our respect. We value the wisdom of pedogogista Loris Malaguzzi, the founder of the Reggio Emilia philosophy, who stated, “The child has a hundred languages, a hundred hands, a hundred thoughts, a hundred ways of thinking, of playing, of speaking.” We must provide a variety of learning experiences that meet the needs of each individual child in order for them to fully express themselves and develop to their fullest potential.


We think of school for young children as an integral living organism, as a place of shared lives and relationships among many adults and many children. We think of school as a sort of construction of motion, continuously adjusting itself.

- Loris Malaguzzi


A Typical Day At SLCC...

Children are greeted in the morning with open-ended provocations for inquiry inspired by the children's ongoing investigations and developing skills. Teachers skillfully guide and scaffold the children's explorations based on each child's development. The class then gathers for a morning meeting to greet each other, discuss any salient wonders, and plan for upcoming projects.

Concurrently, a morning meeting might involve the use of other languages, mindful meditation, yoga, and music. The children spend equal parts of their day investigating the many natural wonders outside and developing small-group projects inside the classroom’s various micro-environments. As educators, we understand that children's learning environments require tactile, active, and multi-faceted materials. Thus, our micro-environments, both inside and outdoors, provide various mediums for stimulating creativity, artistic exploration, sensory experiences, design thinking, literacy, mathematics, and scientific theory. Take a look at our Daily Flow for more details on the events of the day.


Program Basics

Ages: 2.5 to 5

Classroom: Mixed-age

Hours: 8:30 - 4:45, M-F

Classroom Size: 12-15 children

Teacher to Student Ratio: 1:4

Meals: Lunch brought from home

Snacks: 2 organic daily snacks provided 

Nap: Children bring nap mats for a rest period

Potty-training: Not required

Allergy policy: Nut-sensitive

Field-trips: Every semester

Open all calendar year


Environment & Teacher Ratios

The SLCC classroom is a unique and intimate home-like environment located in a newly renovated Arts & Crafts building one block from the enchanting Echo Park Lake. Children feel at home and safe enough to take social-emotional risks with their peers and teachers in an intimate, low-student ratio setting. The classroom lends itself to the best of both worlds: an intimate home-like environment and high-quality, research-backed early education.

We offer hands-on, collaborative, and messy explorations in both our indoor and outdoor classrooms. Children spend equal parts of their day exploring indoor materials and mingling with nature outside. The class experience is intimate and personal with 3 teachers during our Regular Day programming. Our Extended Day programming has 2 teachers staffed at all times.


Mixed-Age Learning

SLCC values a mixed-age learning environment where children gain collaborative opportunities to learn from and model prosocial, motor, and cognitive skills for each other. From these exchanges, the children cultivate a sense of community and care for each other and their school. Our mixed-age classroom is designed to foster continuity of care, where our youngest children begin and end their preschool years with the same educators and peers in the same classroom environment. This builds strength in peer-to-peer and teacher-to-student relationships, socio-emotional safety, confidence, and risk-taking. As the years progress, the teachers gain deeper understanding of their students’ developmental needs and design individual learning goals for each child based on their well-developed relationship.


Making Learning Visible

Unique to the Reggio Emilia approach to learning in early childhood would be our use of observations and documentation. These tools have the potential to serve many purposes during the children’s learning experience. Loris Malaguzzi, the founder of Reggio Emilia, pointed out that through documentation children “become even more curious, interested, and confident as they contemplate the meaning of what they have achieved.” When we make learning visible, we honor the children and give them a voice through the collection and iteration of their artwork, dialogue, play, ideas, and curiosities.

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When their learning is documented, they may be inspired to revisit their experiences and dig deeper into their ideas. Displaying their work efforts, ideas, and learning in a beautiful and respectful way supports our value in children to be capable, thoughtful, and creative. It conveys to children that their efforts are taken seriously, which can inspire them to continue their efforts and encourages them to work in a joyful and dedicated way. Documentation is an essential tool for communicating as a team at SLCC both to families and amongst each other. Read one of our Teacher Reflections below on the topic.


Daily Flow

8:30-9:30 Early Arrivals & Morning Provocations

9:30-10:30 Outdoor Explorations

10:30-11:00 Story-time, Wash-up & Snack

11:00-11:10 Morning Meeting

11:10-11:45 Project-Time

11:45-12:00 Wash-up, Story-time & Dance Party

12-12:30 Lunch

12:30-1:45 Rest & Mindful Choices

2-2:30 Open Snack

2:30 Regular Day Goodbyes​

2:30-3:15 Extended Day Enrichment Programs

3:30-4:00 Wash-up & Snack

4:00-4:30 Outdoor Explorations

4:30-4:45 Story-Time & Goodbyes

Extended Day Enrichment Programs:

Mondays: Photography Workshop  2:30-3:15

Wednesdays: Atelier di Cucina 2:30-3:15

Thursdays: Garden Apothecary 2:30-3:15

2023-2024 School Year Calendar

July 10 Summer Camp Session I (3 weeks)

July 31 Summer Camp Session II (4 weeks)

Aug 28-Sept 8 Fall Break

Sept 8  SLCC Start of Year Family Playdate

Sept 11 First Day of Fall Semester

Oct 9 Indigenous Peoples Day Holiday

Oct 31 SLCC Halloween Parade

Nov 10 Veterans Day Holiday

Nov 20-24 Thanksgiving Break

Dec 14 SLCC Winter Potluck 

Dec 18-29 Winter Break

Jan 2 First Day of Winter Semester

Jan 15 Martin Luther King Jr. Day Holiday

Feb 9 Lunar New Year Potluck Lunch

Feb 19 Presidents’ Day Holiday

Mar 31 Priority Enrollment Deadline

April 8-12 Spring Break

April 15 First Day of Spring Semester

April 22 SLCC Earth Day Picnic Fieldtrip

May 10 Mothers’ Day Breakfast

May 27 Memorial Day Holiday

June 14 Fathers’ Day Breakfast 

June 20 Last Day of School

June 21 Graduation & Picnic at SLCC

June 24-July 5 Summer Break

*School will be closed during all noted breaks and any dates marked as a holiday. 


Eco-Friendly School

We are inspired to amplify the school's efforts to be a more eco-friendly community. SLCC implements the following materials and cleaning protocols to help do our part in reducing our waste and carbon footprint while also creating an environment free of toxic chemicals found in everyday products:


  • Toxin-free and paper-free bamboo toilet paper

  • Toxin-free and paper-free bamboo facial tissue

  • Individual organic cotton hand towels for our bathrooms

  • Organic, biodegradable bamboo wet wipes for sticky clean-up

  • Honest disinfectant pods made with clean ingredients and a reusable spray bottle for disinfecting classroom materials and campus

  • Toxin-free Baby Organics hand sanitizer

  • Refillable, organic Dr. Bronner's soap

  • Compost bin

  • Biodegradable garbage bags

Parent Partnership

Organic & Nutritious Snacks

According to and the latest research on pediatric nutrition, ultra-processed foods are having a serious effect on our kids. Obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, ADHD, depression, and anxiety have all been linked to processed food consumption. 1 in 5 adolescents are now pre-diabetic. BIPOC children are up to five times more likely to suffer from diabetes than their white peers. What’s more, poor nutrition can enforce cycles of poverty. Not only do we implement best practices for early learning at SLCC, but we also follow the science when it comes to the foods we serve.

We provide two fresh, seasonal, organic, and whole food snacks that incorporate herbs, spices, and new flavors to help inspire a rich palate. We do not serve ultra-processed, packaged foods, or any added sugars. 

We value a strong parent partnership as a school community. At SLCC, families have regular opportunities to volunteer in the classroom, attend gatherings and events, share their family cultures during their child's Culture Share, and have the resources they need for implementing the best early childhood practices at home after attending our quarterly Parent Roundtables. Previous roundtables have featured guest speakers including Janet Landsbury, Jane Katch, Rachael Katz, and many other parent education and developmental psychology experts.

Our doors are always open to help support our parent community. Our priority is to make your child's first years of education a success and full of joy and creativity.


Enrichment Programs

Our afternoons are dedicated to enhancing the children's school experiences with specialized enrichment opportunities that vary throughout the week and are informed by the children's interests and developmental needs. Our Photography Workshop, Atelier di Cucina, and Garden Apothecary programs are offered every week.

Photography Workshop

Children will explore shadows and reflections during photography workshop. The photography setting will take place both indoors and outdoors. The children will use a variety of cameras including digital, film, and instant. Each child will be provided with opportunities to create and capture shadows and reflections. Shadows play an interesting role because they can determine our mood and interest depending on how we perceive them. Reflection on the other hand can help to shift our perspectives and develop a sense of self. Through this thorough exploration, the children will not only gain the skills to identify, create, and capture shadows and reflections but discover how each play a role in our daily lives. 

Atelier di Cucina

Atelier Di Cucina translates from the Italian language to "kitchen workshop". Our specialist facilitates a weekly cooking appreciation experience every Wednesday. Children are introduced to the various fine-motor skills of cutting, pouring, mixing, and the myriad other techniques required to cook and bake. Additionally, the Atelier Di Cucina entices our senses and provides rich and meaningful tactile, olfactory, and sensorial experiences for our children. We learn the value of growing our own food, harvesting our ingredients, and communing in the kitchen as a collaborative group.

Garden Apothecary

The word apothecary has its roots in the Latin word apotheca which dates back to the 13th century. Since then, the art of storing and selling herbs for medicinal purposes has flourished and sustained its traditional purposes. Through this ancient practice, we cultivate a connection to our planet and foster a love and appreciation for the Earth's many medicinal and healing plants and herbs. Our Garden Apothecary class involves the children in weekly gardening, maintaining our organic herbs and plants, while harvesting them to make medicinal potions, balms, salves, and ointments. Each week, we learn a different recipe and enrich our senses, employ our scientific theory and mathematical concepts, while enriching our social emotional development and deep attachment to mother nature. 

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The RIE Studio

Our newly launched RIE-Certified Parent-Infant Classes stem from a desire to create a comprehensive community of support for families from the time their children are newborns until they venture into formal kindergarten and beyond. Our weekly RIE-Certified classes are offered for parents with infants and toddlers ages 0 to 2 years old in The RIE Studio, located on the second floor of our new campus. Classes are grouped based on age and development, each class having a small range in age by a few months. This way, the environment is catered to the children's particular stage of development and common themes can be discussed with parents and caregivers in the class.

Magda Gerber's RIE approach caters to the needs of each individual child with respect while encouraging independence, confidence, and resilience. SLCC's approach to learning is synonymous both in theory and practice. We are thrilled to host our RIE-Certified Mentor and former Chair of the RIE Association, Jill Getto Lee, M.A. at SLCC. Jill facilitates all of our RIE classes and offers consultations for parents needing support in their first two years of parenting. 

We highly encourage families interested in enrolling in our preschool program to begin their journey with us in The RIE Studio upstairs.

Please visit Jill's website to learn more about her approach and to register for our classes:

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