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Honoring the Land, the Water and the Steh-Chass People

With gratitude and humility, we honor the land, the water and the First People.
We acknowledge that this land and water is the traditional territory of the Steh-Chass people. The Steh-Chass people are of the Squaxin Island Tribe.
The surrounding mountains, valleys, shorelines and waterways are imbued with their presence.
We seek to nurture our relationship with our Coast Salish neighbors and our shared responsibilities to this place — their homelands — where we mutually abide.

To learn more about supporting tribal initiatives go to Learning Right Relations 
To learn more about the Squaxin Island Tribe go to
To learn about the history of Steh-Chass read the excellent article What Happened to the Steh-Chass People?
To learn more about Washington Tribes go to
Our Program/ Steh-Chass



Ancient Futures is inspired by the Cedarsong Way Nature School and the Reggio Emilia play-based and arts-based approach to early childhood learning.  To guide social/ emotional development we use strategies from The Whole Brain Child .  Our philosophy below is based directly on the Cedarsong Way forest school philosophy and adapted to our program.  To learn more go to  We are also guided by techniques of Coyote Mentoring; to learn more go to

Place-based Education

Through awareness of natural ecosystems, being caretakers, garden time, and making art children become rooted in the land and community; this supports their self-pride and identity.

Child-led Flow Learning

Children’s interests are allowed to unfold naturally in response to the natural setting.  This leads to deeper self-motivated learning.

Inquiry-based Teaching Style

Teachers are not the center of attention.  We use open-ended questions to engage children in their self-chosen explorations and deepen their learning.

Documentation of Emergent Curriculum

Emergent curriculum arises from flow learning and inquiry.  In response to the interests of the group, we bring optional tools, stories, songs, games, activities, food, etc. to deepen and expand the exploration.  We document what the children are learning as the day unfolds.

Exposure to Moderate Risk (climbing, balancing, running, sticks, water, hiding)

With adult guidance and support, children learn to self-assess their own safety, have body-awareness, problem-solve and challenge themselves.  Gain motor skills and core strength.

Authentic Play

Kids learn how to be relaxed self-directed learners, be creative, negotiate with friends and communicate their needs.  Young kids learn best while in motion and when playing music, dramatizing or making art.


Nature Therapy

Children learn to use nature to self-sooth and restore balance and confidence.


Compassion Scaffolding: Respect for Self, Others, and the Living Earth

We support children’s natural tendency to relate imaginatively to animals, plants and natural features; this leads to the practice of compassion and care taking in all relationships.  We use stories and songs to introduce and share reflections on mindfulness, kindness and friendship.


Positive Reinforcement

Teachers practice moment-by-moment noticing of positive social behavior like helpfulness, generosity, flexibility, perseverance, communication, and self-reliance.  We use gentle coaching, whole-brain integration techniques, reminders and redirection when kids need help being safe, secure and kind.  Children learn self-pride and personal boundaries.


Individual Empowerment and Group Bonding

Children pursue goals in collaboration and on their own.  They learn to value their own contributions and ideas as well as those of their friends.

Our Program Site Menu
Our Philosophy
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