Our Approach – Bay Area Discovery Museum

Our Approach


With two mixed-aged (3- to 5-year-old) classrooms, a low child-to-teacher ratio and educators with many years of study and practice, our pedagogy highlights and interprets the principles and values of the Reggio Emilia approach. This includes the utilization of child development research to inform our practice, a strong image of the child, and a partnership with families. Additionally, the educator in our context is considered a researcher, and the environment, is a third teacher. 

Through joyful learning and collaborative play, our Reggio-inspired program focuses on the development of the whole child; physical, cognitive, and social-emotional. Teachers thoughtfully and intentionally prepare the indoor environment, utilizing intelligent materials to provoke curiosity.   

This close-knit preschool cultivates relationships, which are the foundation of our safe and nurturing learning environment.  


The Discovery School and its broader environment of the museum and Fort Baker invite children to explore and theorize about the world around them. A plethora of opportunities for imagination, creativity, and problem-solving empowers children, while providing social constructivist learning experiences in a collaborative environment. Our curriculum is inquiry-based and co-negotiated between children and educators informed by documentation of the children during daily explorations. Daily experiences and longer-term studies, support children's development of language and literacy skills, provides opportunities to explore the arts, models age-appropriate science, math, and engineering learning, and thoughtfully integrate technology to enhance children's engagement, social interaction, and creativity. 

Additionally, access to Fort Baker National Park means children and educators can extend their learning into the natural environment, forming a deep relationship with the natural world and encouraging environmental stewardship.. 

Through its innovative practice, TDS seeks to advance early childhood education by demonstrating how research on creativity development can be applied in a preschool classroom. Backed by research from Bay Area Discovery Museum’s in-house research division, TDS’s curriculum supports children’s development of language and literacy, provides opportunities to explore the arts, models age-appropriate science, math, and engineering learning, and thoughtfully integrates technology to enhance children’s engagement, social interaction, and creativity. 

Your Child's Day at School

We value and prioritize time for pursuing interests, developing relationships, and engaging in imaginative play and exploration with open-ended materials. Our daily flow includes routines like having group meetings (circle time), exploring outside, sharing stories, singing songs, engaging in small group work, and eating a snack and lunch.

Our Daily Flow

  • Arrival
  • Community Meeting
  • Indoor Self-Directed Exploration and Small Groups
  • Snack
  • Outdoor Play & Exploration
  • Lunch
  • Pick up

While the exact order of events may change, we consistently provide children with time for uninterrupted exploration both indoors and outside, small group and classroom community experiences- with as few transitions as possible.

We are licensed as a childcare center by the State of California and feature fully qualified teachers and a low staff-to-child ratio.

Documentation and Reflection

Throughout the TDS school year, educators maintain thorough and reflective documentation which guides their planning and assessment. This practice ensures that the learning that happens within the classroom is visible to everyone. Parents and families are necessarily included in the documentation process, and bi-monthly reflections become part of an ongoing conversation between parents, children, teachers, and peers.

Outdoor Exploration

Spending time outside is central to TDS’s approach to creative learning. During the school year, TDS students spend time outdoors, exploring the beaches and habitats of our Fort Baker location, which fosters a deep connection to the natural world. Our students all have access to all of the resources and exhibits of our museum home, including exclusive access on Mondays, when Bay Area Discovery Museum is closed to the public.

Laboratory School

In fall 2016, TDS became an official laboratory school, or lab school. As a lab school, TDS welcomes top university researchers who are studying child development in a preschool setting. The lessons and research that come out of our preschool will shape the national dialogue on how educators design experiences to set kids up for lifelong success. Our status as a lab school also benefits TDS teachers. They have access to cutting edge research from the leading thinkers in cognitive development and early childhood education, which gives them the opportunity to implement this innovative research immediately in the classroom.

Connect with Us!

Have questions? Email us at tds@badm.org to get in touch with our Head of School, Caren Drezner or fill out an Inquiry Form.

Apply Now

Limited spots for the 2024-25 school year are available. Apply now to secure your spot!

Contact Us

Interested in learning more about TDS? Email us at tds@badm.org or fill out an inquiry for more information.

Upcoming Tours:

Friday, January 12, at 10 a.m.
Thursday, January 25, at 10 a.m.

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