People are often surprised to learn that there’s a school at the Smithsonian. The Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center is a small school for infants through Kindergartners that opened its doors over 30 years ago. We acknowledge that children of all ages are capable learners, and we operate from the core belief that children benefit from learning in museums.
Over the years, we have developed a unique approach to learning beyond the classroom. Today, community is at the heart of what we do. We believe that by learning in the community children can better understand concepts and experience more of the world. We also believe that by supporting a community of families, we can create a framework that will enhance a child’s overall growth and development.
Life is hectic, so we invite families to slow down when they enter our classrooms. We begin most of our classes by playing and we encourage our caretakers to interact with the children and adults in the room. We find that this period can be meaningful time spent with your child as well as a chance to socialize and meet other families. The best part of our play is that the SEEC team does all the clean-up — so go ahead, get messy, and enjoy!
Our community is a judgment free zone. We do our best to create an environment in which parents don’t feel pressured to have their kids perform or act in a certain way. If there is one thing we understand it’s that young children have a mind of their own and develop at their own pace. We want caregivers to feel good about their parenting even if their child is having an “off” day.
THE WHOLE CHILD
To use an education phrase, we support the whole child. Our goal is to encourage the cognitive, physical, and emotional development of young children. Of course, we want our students to come away with new knowledge after a lesson, but our programs go beyond that. The play and activities that we facilitate help children practice everything from problem-solving to learning how to move their bodies. Our interactive group activities encourage children to think critically, listen to others, and make careful observations. Our curricula and materials celebrate children of all backgrounds, and we think carefully about diversity and inclusion.
LOVE OF LEARNING
Too often these days, young children are faced with learning environments that don’t reflect their developmental needs. We, however, offer a program that acknowledges a child’s need to move, explore, and investigate. We are not here to provide answers, but rather to suggest a pathway to the answer. We see this as a journey for the child and adult, and we believe that by engaging them in the content in fun and meaningful ways, children will continue to return to museums and learning.
SEEC currently offers a host of options for families, including our full-time school for infants through kindergartners. Though enrollment in the younger years is limited due to space, we encourage you to look at our preschool and kindergarten options where space is often available. In addition to our full-time school, we offer the following weekend family programs for infants – 3rd grade and a part-time program for caregivers and children aged 18 – 36 months:
- * Bring Your Own Baby is a program for caretakers that meets most 2nd and 4th Tuesdays.
* Infant Investigators, Toddler Trailblazers, Twos Travelers, and Preschool Pioneers are weekend programs for caretakers and children that begin in a SEEC classroom and conclude with a museum visit on the National Mall.
* Artful Afternoons are art studio workshops for children in grades K-3 and their families (siblings are welcome) that provide open-ended, creative challenges around a central theme.
* SEEC Celebrations include birthdays, community events, and private classes.
Visit the SEEC website to learn more about their programs. And if you are interested in enrollment in preschool and kindergarten, spaces are currently available in both programs for 2018-2019. The application deadline for 2019 -2020 school year is March 1, 2019.