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Vision, Mission & Core Values


We envision a just world where children are treated with respect, allowed to play freely, and trusted to direct their own learning.


To provide children with a play-based, child-directed, non-authoritarian educational environment and to provide parents with tools to build respectful communication within their families.

Core Values and Practices

Play Mountain Place, founded in 1949, is one of the earliest humanistic alternative schools in the U.S. We remain committed to upholding the long-held and deeply rooted traditions of our school, as expressed in our core values and practices.

  1. We love and respect children. Our teachers create a nurturing environment for children to learn and grow without punishment, manipulation, or shame.

  2. We encourage children to express their full range of thoughts and feelings in ways that are physically and emotionally safe. We believe that children develop self-regulation, responsibility, and empathy by experiencing the effects of their own words and actions on others and, in so doing, learning to respect the feelings and limits of others.

  3. We facilitate peaceful conflict resolution and problem-solving by helping children learn and practice listening and negotiation skills throughout their day. Our teachers dedicate time and attention to helping children find their own voice and their own solutions to their problems and conflicts with each other.

  4. We encourage cooperation rather than competition within children’s play and in relationships with each other, including by supporting decision-making through consensus.

  5. We foster self-motivated learning and critical thinking by trusting and helping children to pursue their own interests, at their own pace, in their own way, without external rewards or punishments. Teachers meet regularly with parents to discuss each child’s learning and development, rather than using traditional grading or ranking methods.

  6. We nurture and enhance curiosity, learning, and creativity by providing an environment with opportunities for children to play freely, challenge themselves physically, and explore and enjoy the natural world. We believe that play-based learning and exploration best supports children’s intellectual, emotional, and physical development.

  7. We believe children learn to recognize and stand up against unfairness when we help them understand, respect, and genuinely value differences between their own and others’ cultures, identities, family backgrounds, and experiences.

  8. We believe our work with children requires that we — parents, teachers, and other adults —work deeply and thoughtfully to build our own knowledge and skills in respectful communication, setting limits, and problem-solving. Our school provides a range of programs aimed at helping parents and teachers to build such skills.

  9. We believe in sharing our philosophy and practice outside our community to advance our vision of a just and peaceful world.

Support our long tradition of innovative, child-initiated, experiential education.