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Community School of West Seattle

9450 22nd Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98106

(206) 763-2081


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Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based, Reggio-Emilia

From the Director:

LIFE is our overall approach. Human beings are designed for knowledge and to build relationships. We seek them from the very first moment to our very last breath. CSWS provides a rich, nurturing, diverse and respectful evironment that allows both knowledge and relationships to flourish and bloom each and everyday.

Curriculum & Teaching Approach

Learning Philosophy & Tools

  Play- based mostly teacher led not formally in curriculum conducive environment
Language       more

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  • Tracing paper and other writing instruments
  • A well-stocked bookcase
Oral language  
Nursery rhymes, poems, songs  
Storybook reading  
Emerging literacy skills  
Cognitive development
Math & number sense more

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  • Puzzles
Time & space more

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  • Calendars and clocks
  • Parquetry blocks, pegboards, and mosaic toys
  • Maps
  • Building blocks
Sci. reasoning/physical world more

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  • A place for science activities such as growing plants
  • Pets for children to watch and care for
Music more

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  • Musical instruments
Visual arts more

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  • Materials such as paint, ink, paintbrushes, crayons, markers, chalk, paper, etc.
  • Art work on the walls
Physical activity more

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  • A playground with climbing equipment
  • Bean bags, balls, and other objects that children can throw, kick, and play
  • Tricycles
  • Enough room for children to move around and play and a suitable indoor alternative to the outdoor playground on rainy days
  • Sandboxes and/or water stations for play
Other subjects taught

From the Director:

The children are the curriculum. What they bring to us each day inspires us to be responsive teachers. We can never get stuck doing the same old thing because no day is ever the same as the one before it. As teachers we know what skills we want all children to have to be successful as they move forward in their educational lives and from this place of understanding everything falls into place-everything we do allows the skills of reading and writing to emerge. For children going off to Kindergarten we use the Handwriting Witout Tears curriculum which we love for it's hands on approach. CSWS is inspired by the Reggio approach and we love our open studio space. Our full time studio arts teacher does a combination of open studio projects in which each child chooses their own activity and she leads focused studio work with small groups each day.

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

We are all on our own journey. CSWS allows, encourages and supports each child in working on projects/activities that they find enjoyable and stimulating. The materials in the classroom reflect a wide variety of interest and ability. Teachers know each individual child and offer, provide and engage them in ways that are meaningful to them. We also have an understanding of what it is we want children to know before they leave us and go in to Kindergarten so these skills are weaved into daily explorations.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

The Community School of West Seattle provides and promotes a comprehensive and balanced approach to early learning built on a foundation of mutual respect.
 Childhood is for Being a Child
The early years, birth to eight years old, are a time of intense discovery. Play is the vital work of childhood as young children learn by doing. We believe the more opportunities children have for hands on, sensory-based experiences, the more they learn about their world. Our multi-age approach allows children to work with, learn from, and support each other.

 Excellence in Early Learning
Children learn all the time and are intrinsically motivated to do so. Our trained staff work in classrooms designed for the developmental needs of the children they serve. Teachers offer respectful engagement, intentional discovery, and purposeful experiences so that children can grasp the concepts that form the basis of all learning. We strive to develop each student socially, emotionally, intellectually, and physically so that every child will gain a sense of self and life-long confidence.

 Our Community
Families are an integral part of the experience at CSWS. Social and educational offerings are provided throughout the year and parents are actively engaged in many aspects of the school’s operations. We live and practice our Anti-Bias foundation everyday by giving children the tools to advocate for themselves and others. Each individual is respected while learning to be a member of a community. We are passionate about the profession of early learning and are involved in the greater early childhood community; attending trainings, modeling our approach to other teachers and practicing community outreach.

A Typical Day

•9:30 Morning Meeting
•9:45 to 10:30 Classroom and Outside are open
•10:30 Snack
•10:45 to 11:45 Classroom and Side Yard are open
•11:30 We do a little putting away, cleaning, find our shoes etc…
•11:45 Circle-stories and games, songs and lessons
•12pm Go to the big yard with the other class
•12:30 Morning children go home
•12:35 Afternoon children come in and hang-up coats and wash hands for
•1 to 1:30 Quiet independent reading, puzzles, resting with pillows and blankets, other quiet activities.
•1:30-3pm Classroom and Studio are open and the other class may join us in the studio
•Handwriting Without Tears for kids heading off to Kindergarten-with Jen
•3pm Coats on and to the big yard
•3:30 Time to go home 

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

Communication is an important aspect of what we do here. Emails are regularly sent out from the director about calendar events and goings on. Each classroom writes a weekly newsletter that is emailed out and posted in the school and outside of each classroom there is a communication board for teachers to share last minute news and requests and updates. Twice a year we have formal meetings with parents and teachers to discuss each childs progress and meetings can be scheduled as and when a parent or teacher might need them. We do Learning Stories for each child-this is similar to a narrative assessment and is accompanied with pictures and quotes of specific moments during a childs experience with us.

Parents Say They are Encouraged to:

  • Sit on the board of trustees
  • Hold social events at the school to build community
  • Fundraise
  • Are able to visit the school anytime we want
  • Go on field trips
  • Volunteer in the classroom
  • Receive newsletters

Modes of Communication

  • Notes
  • Phone Calls
  • Voice Mail
  • Email
  • Special Meetings
  • Two or More Regular Conferences
  • Drop-Off
  • Pick-Up
  • Regular newsletter/printed updates circulated to the whole school


Separation is Handled through:

  • Pre-entry meetings with parents at school
  • Parents in classroom early on
  • Abbreviated schedule at start of school year

Handling Separation: From the Director

We require all families to do an observation in the classroom with their child for several hours before submitting an application. Once they have enrolled we invite families to visit over the summer, connect with other new families and host a slow start for just the new children in the classroom. Once school starts we will allow parents to stay in the classroom if their child really needs it while they both get settled and comfortable. We encourage parents to bring a book to read and just 'be' in the room so that their child can make new connections with peers and teachers while maintaining the safeness that a parent provides. When we all feel that a healthy relationship has been established we will help a parent say goodbye and walk out the door. If a child needs a cuddle for a few minutes that's ok. If there are tears they have usually stopped by the time the parent is in the car. If a child is clearly upset for more than 15/20 minutes and not consolable we will call the parent to hang out with us some more.