Not-A-School Creative Enrichment Program

Public Programs Manager Heather Posner
Public Programs Coordinator Danielle Pitchford

Nurturing creativity in the arts, the sciences and the environment
Children ages 2.9 - 6.

We are so excited to announce our brand new drop-off program developed to nurture creativity in young children all year long. Our Fall session begins in September. Parents can apply to drop their children off 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 days a week Monday - Friday from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Children will explore the Arts, the Sciences and the Environment through play and guided inquiry lead by Public Programs Manager Heather Posner and Danielle Pitchford.

For more information, please contact Heather Posner at (415) 339-3982 or hposner(at) or Danielle Pitchford at (415) 339-3906 or dpitchford(at)

Fall session September 24 – December 23, 2012
Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Ages 2.9 - 5

Wednesday 2 p.m. - 5 p.m. Ages 3.5 - 6
Children can attend 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 days a week

Not-A-School Philosophy

Our methods are drawn from the Museum’s unique educational philosophy which allows children and adults to construct learning together:

The Bay Area Discovery Museum is the leading children’s museum dedicated to developing creativity in all children; nurturing future generations of creative thinkers and innovators. Our goal is to develop the many facets of childhood creativity and play. Our trademark approach emphasizes open-ended, child-directed, discovery-based activities, in which there are infinite ways to play, discover, and create—not a single, ‘correct’ way as determined by adults. We cultivate creativity as children who visit the Museum explore, discover, immerse, imagine and make connections. 

Providing opportunities for children to learn through play takes precedence over the need to teach specific educational content. Our goal is child-directed play, creating conditions for adults to let children make choices, take risks, and spend the time they need to construct their own understanding of the world. Our programs are designed to be fun for children and to allow parents, caregivers and Museum staff to join children as facilitators, researchers and collaborators. 

Our delightful place-based exhibitions are the backdrop for un-facilitated play and programs that offer concrete experiences to deepen a child’s understanding of the local environment and the diverse communities that live here.

We employ developmentally-appropriate practices that incorporate knowledge of child development with flexible activities and curriculum that appeal to a wide range of ages and abilities.

We emphasize the process in activities that allow children to connect ideas and build their own structure through experimentation and repetition, developing and evaluating their own theories.

Our curriculum is open-ended: activities are intrinsically motivating, allowing for active engagement, sustained involvement and multiple outcomes.

Observation, Documentation, and Evaluation

The Museum uses these techniques in order to evaluate the success of our programs. At Not-A-School we will use some of these tactics to meet our goals:

Observation is performed to learn more about the children and adults who visit in order to assess their prior knowledge and skills, and to better adapt our programs to suit their needs and understand the impact of our work.

Documentation is used as a tool for recording observations and to “make children’s learning visible” through photographs, wall displays and communications collateral.

We reflect on what we have learned through observation and subsequent documentation and employ formal evaluation strategies such as surveys and behavioral coding in order to measure the success of our programs. 

We will never evaluate or assess children in terms of whether they are meeting certain criteria, though we may study their behavior in order to evaluate our own teaching practices or to inform our overall understanding of how to nurture creativity in the best way. When children are playing in Museum exhibitions, Not-A-School teachers will supervise children’s play and support their social skills. More often than not, teachers will abstain from participating in children’s play while in exhibitions unless children invite them to participate or need scaffolding to play with other children. We feel that one of the most important gifts we can offer children here is the experience of child-directed play. Teachers will use these opportunities to gather documentation and observe children’s behavior. 

We are inspired by best practices in the field of Early Childhood Education such as Bank Street College, the Reggio Emilia approach, Bev Bos at Roseville Community Preschool, and Constructivist theory. Our peers in the informal learning community—The Portland Children’s Museum Opal School, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis Preschool and the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center—have served as crucial inspiration in the development of this program.

Not-A-School Daily Activities

“The Child is the curriculum.”- Bev Bos

Daily activities are designed based on the children’s interests using an emergent curriculum model and developed to nurture social and emotional development by maximizing opportunities for collaboration and encouraging pro-social behavior. Children and Educators will create a community of learning together as they engage in art, science, music, and literacy activities, go on outdoor adventures around Fort Baker and play in the Museum Exhibits. Mondays when the Museum is closed to the public, children enrolled in the program will have exclusive use of the exhibitions. 

Typical Daily Morning Schedule:

9:00 – 9:30: Arrival and projects
9:30 - 9:45: Group gathering/stories
9:45 – 10:15: Projects such as art, science building etc.
10:15 – 10:30: Snack
10:30 - 11:45: Adventures (beach visits, hikes, playing in the exhibits)
Noon - 12:45: Lunch
12:45 - 1:00 Closing rituals and dismissal

Typical Daily Afternoon Schedule:

2:00 – 2:30: Arrival and projects
2:30 - 2:45: Group gathering/stories
2:45 – 3:15: Projects such as art, science building etc.
3:15 – 3:30: Snack
3:30 - 4:45: Adventures (beach visits, hikes, playing in the exhibits)
4:45 - 5:00 Closing rituals and dismissal 

All primary caregivers and children enrolled in the program will be invited to attend a practice class the week before the program begins. This will give families a chance to meet each other, and get to know the instructors. Children who may need more opportunities to prepare for being dropped off are welcome to spend time with instructors prior to the beginning of the program by arrangement with the Public Programs Manager.

Parents are welcome to join us each morning from 9 – 9:15 am or 2:00- 2:15 pm any day their child is in the program.

Please note that children may not be enrolled in both an am and pm session on the same day.

Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Not-A-School.



September 24 – December 23, 2012 (no program week of November 19)

January 9 - March 22

March 26 - May 24 (No program during week of Spring Break April 9 - 13)

Cost per Academic Year

Monday - Friday 9 am – 1 pm:
Supporting Members $13,775, General $17,400

Four days per week 9 am – 1 pm:
Supporting Members $11,020, General $13,920

Three days per week 9 pm – 1 pm:
Supporting Members $8,700, General $10,440

Two days per week 9 am – 1 pm:
Supporting Members $5,800, General $6,960

One day per week 9 am – 1 pm:
Supporting Members $2,900, General $3,480

Wednesday Afternoon Program 2 pm – 5 pm:
Supporting Members $2,175, General $2,610

Fees are payable in three installments with a non-refundable deposit equal to one month's tuition upon admission. Refunds will only be given up to 1 month prior to the beginning of the session. Priority enrollment is given to members of the Bay Area Discovery Museum Board of Trustees, Museum staff, and then the general public. In addition, applications for 4- or 5-days per week will be considered first.

Applications will be accepted beginning June 18, 2012 and as openings become available.

In addition to basic family information, we will request the answers to the following questions - you may wish to reflect on these prior to filling out the application form:

  • What is your reason for seeking a drop-off enrichment program for your child?
  • Tell us about your child’s previous playgroup or care-giver experiences.
  • What about this program is attractive to you (pedagogy, values, location, philosophy).
  • This program is designed to nurture creativity in young children. Why is creativity important to you and your family?
  • Please tell us about your child’s strengths and areas in which you hope they will develop.
  • What do you hope your child will learn and experience at Not-a-School?

An application and fee is required for each child applying to the program.

Enrollment for children continuing in multiple sessions will be guaranteed pending positive experiences for both children and staff.

We are not able to accept children in diapers or pull-ups. All children must be current on immunizations. Proof of vaccinations will be required upon enrollment.

Our Staff


Heather Posner
Public Programs Manager

I have been working in the fields of Early Childhood Education and Informal Learning since 2002 when I began at the Boston Children’s Museum. Over the last several years I have taught preschool, worked at the Exploratorium and completed a Master of Fine Arts in Cinema. I came to the Bay Area Discovery Museum in 2007 as a Camp Specialist and was immediately moved by the way children are able to interact with the environment. When the opportunity to work here full-time arrived, I was thrilled to become part of such a dynamic organization. I continue to pursue opportunities for professional development and recently received a grant to attend a seminar at the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center, as well as completed a course in childcare center administration.  In August 2012 I will begin a Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education at San Francisco State University.

Danielle Pitchford
Public Programs Coordinator

My work with children started 11 years ago when I took my first job as a nanny. I gradually shifted jobs to swim instructor, life guard, camp counselor, and most recently worked as a Discovery Educator and Summer Camps Assistant here at the Museum. I love the creativity that children have. This innate creativity gives everyone surrounding them the opportunity to run, laugh and play. The Bay Area Discovery Museum gives children the freedom to discover and explore while simultaneously developing new skills, which is why I have continued to work here for the last 3 years.  I have been continuing my education in early childhood and plan to become Lead Teacher qualified in the fall of 2012.

We will be hiring an additional assistant teacher for fall 2012.

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