Our Approach – Bay Area Discovery Museum

Our Approach


We believe that children are capable and innately motivated learners and our research-backed, emergent curriculum is guided by students’ interests, questions, and curiosities. Through joyful learning and collaborative play, our Reggio-inspired program is designed to grow children’s physical, cognitive, and social-emotional development, as well as their creative problem-solving skills. Our teachers intentionally prepare a creatively stimulating classroom environment and utilize our museum-based campus and national park setting so children can explore and gain knowledge about the world around them. This close-knit preschool cultivates relationships, which are the foundation of our safe and nurturing learning environment.


Through its innovative practice, TDS seeks to advance the field of early childhood education by demonstrating how research on creativity development can be applied in a preschool classroom. Backed by research from BADM’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. We regularly spend time 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
  • Outdoor Play & Exploration
  • Snack & Community Meeting
  • At this time we are unable to provide a snack. Children may bring their own snack from home.
  • Open Classroom Investigation & Small Groups
  • Lunch
  • Book Look & Lunch Transition
  • Pick up

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

The Discovery School is aligned with the BADM’s research division which provides evidence-based expertise in children’s creativity development.

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 BADM is closed to the public.

Labratory 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? Get in touch, and our Head of School, Michelle Barreras, will respond with more information.

Apply Now

Prospective families are welcome to join us for a tour to learn more.

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Interested in learning more about TDS? Send us a message!

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