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ELC Philosophy and Guiding Principles


Program Philosophy

The Menlo Park City School District’s Early Learning Center nurtures young children’s curiosity, sense of wonder, belonging, and deep engagement with the world around them, preparing them to develop the critical skills needed to enter kindergarten and reach their full potential. Our caring and knowledgeable teachers support the development of friendships, foster positive conflict resolution skills, and ensure that children have a sense of belonging and feel safe and valued for their unique gifts.

We believe that young children flourish in environments where play, experimentation and positive interactions are at the core of their everyday experiences; and that they have the capacity to persevere with great concentration on challenges that truly engage them and light the fire of their curiosity.

Guiding principles

  • Children experience a fundamental sense of well-being, knowing that they are safe, cared for and respected by their teachers and the ELC community.
  • Families are their children’s first teachers and respected as partners in their educational journeys.
  • Positive, meaningful interactions are at the core of our work and children are inspired to grow in new and joyful directions each day.
  • Children and families from diverse backgrounds thrive and benefit from the core values of equity, interdependence and social justice.
  • The program will meet the needs of the whole child: physically, socially, emotionally and cognitively.
  • The curriculum will prepare children for school through a creative, developmentally appropriate, child-centered, play-based program.
  • The environment will be rich in materials to nurture children’s emergent literacy, math, science, technology, art and social skills
  • The program will nurture a connection to nature and the environment.
  • Children will develop 21st Century learning skills of problem solving, persistence, communication, empathy, creativity and citizenship.

The Early Learning Center seeks to “raise all boats” so that a child’s success will not be determined by his or her race, socioeconomic status, gender, (dis)ability, or home language. The ELC values individual, cultural, and linguistic diversity and fosters positive relationships with children’s families. The ELC is an inclusive environment that welcomes and intentionally includes children with varying abilities, diverse cultures, and socioeconomic backgrounds. At least 25% of spaces in the ELC are set aside for children from low-income families.