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The Natalie G. Heineman Smart Love Preschool

800 W. Buena
Chicago, IL 60613

(773) 665-8052


Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based

From the Director:

"When children's needs are responded to knowledgeably and positively, children acquire the inner resources to function flexibly and effectively in the real world." - Martha Heineman Pieper, Ph.D. and William J. Pieper, M.D.

Curriculum & Teaching Approach

Learning Philosophy & Tools

  Play- based mostly teacher led not formally in curriculum conducive environment
Oral language  
Nursery rhymes, poems, songs  
Storybook reading  
Emerging literacy skills  
Cognitive development
Math & number sense
Time & space
Sci. reasoning/physical world
Visual arts
Physical activity
Other subjects taught

Day in the Life

General School Mission

Smart Love was developed by two highly respected experts, Martha Heineman Pieper, Ph.D. and William J. Pieper, M.D. The Piepers are native Chicagoans and parents of five. Supported by the latest child development research, Smart Love has been successfully applied by trained professionals in a broad range of settings for over three decades.

The Piepers discovered that everyone is born with the capacity to achieve a stable, pleasurable inner well-being and identified the most effective ways both to foster that well-being and also to avoid developing needs for self-sabotage. Children, adolescents, and adults who possess true inner happiness are able to make constructive and healthy self-caretaking choices, to enjoy a productive, fulfilling school or work life, and to sustain close, pleasurable relationships with loved ones and peers.

The Smart Love Preschool provides a setting that promotes young children's long-term academic success by strengthening their social-emotional health and inspiring their intellectual creativity through play-based learning.

"Research shows that children who engage in complex forms of socio-dramatic play have greater language skills than non-players, better social skills, more empathy, more imagination, and more of the subtle capacity to know what others mean. They are less aggressive and how more self-control and higher levels of thinking." (Crisis in the Kindergarten, 2009, Alliance for Childhood.)

A Typical Day

Welcome and Transition Play:
The children arrive, take off their shoes, hang their backpack in their cubby, and wash hands. The teachers welcome the children and the children greet each other. To help with transitions from home to school, children choose from several enticing and enjoyable activities that have been set up in the room for them.

Well-Being Together Time:
We will say our hellos together on the big rug with our special welcome song, notice who is here and who is absent, check the weather, listen to a child's show and tell, or engage in a fun group activity such as creative movement or yoga.

Child's Choice:
The children can make choices as to what they enjoy doing during this time. Areas of play include: the block corner, water play and nature station, messy arts and crafts, puzzles, dress-up and play kitchen, or a comfy book nook.

Snack Time:
Children wash their hands and have a bathroom break and then sit down for a healthy snack and lively conversation.

Learning is Fun:
Theme-based, age appropriate content will be taught in an engaging way that stimulates children's natural curiosity about the world around them and incorporates early math and literacy skills. Examples might be a child-friendly custom, art or music from our own or another culture, a nature project like building nests or creating a village. Children may visit the Children's Library for storytelling, puppet theatre or magic shows.

Outdoor Time:
Children play outdoors, tend the children's garden or create their own imaginary fun. Teachers will engage the children in fun outdoor games and activities.

Children and teachers, sing, wriggle and dance a group good-bye.