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About Play as You Learn Community Preschool

Philosophy/Mission Statement

Here at Play As You Learn, we believe in encouraging the whole development of your child as they play. We believe in providing real-life, hands-on experiences as well as free-range, independent activities, that fosters their physical, cognitive and social/emotional development.

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We provide an open, safe, communicative environment to nurture and explore children’s ideas independently, while also working together collaboratively in learning and discovery.

Our primary focus is the social/emotional development of the child. Social Emotional Development is a very important part of your child’s whole development as it fosters:

  • Understanding how to express feelings of selves and others

  • Development of conflict resolution skills

  • Confidence building

  • Communication skills

  • Cooperation/team building                  

  • Trust and empathy



Our curriculum is self-directed and emergent by our children.  We believe the process is more important than the product. By incorporating collaboration with one another, short and long term projects, as well as observation/documentation, we create a vibrant curriculum that fosters and meets the needs and whole development of your child.



As providers we believe in our learning there are no teachers or students-only collaborators!  We believe the job of the teacher is to provide the materials and space to help expand their emergent ideas.  We believe the job of the child is to learn through their play. Together we use teamwork to learn and discover.



We incorporate short and long-term projects in our curriculum.  We also encourage emergent projects which originate from the child’s play, curiosity and ideas.  As ideas form and emerge, children and teachers plan curriculum together. We also believe that the implementation of the parents are part of our curriculum. This encompasses learning at school and at home and also brings family, teacher, and child relationships together as a community.



At Play as You Learn we believe observation and documentation are a very fundamental part of our curriculum as well as your child’s whole development. Observation and documentation is done through pictures, notes, and portfolios with samples of their work.  Through observation and documentation we can gauge where each child is at with specific development. We can then provide materials, time, and space to foster and enhance these specific developmental areas. Acknowledging that each child learns and develops differently, we incorporate observation and documentation into our curriculum to foster each individual child while also fostering the class as a whole.

Play as You Learn Community Preschool Team


Christa Smiley


I am the youngest from a family of 15 siblings and have been caring for children since I was 11 years old.  This August I just celebrated 24 years of being a Early Childhood Educator. During my career I have worked as a lead teacher, Program Coordinator, and Assistant Director.  My family and I love Sonoma County and decided to stay here 12 years ago while my husband continued his career in the US Coast Guard. Both of our children have grown up in Sonoma County and have now settled down in the area as well.  My goal to start my own school is a mission I’ve been working towards the last two years. My philosophy of the school is to provide an environment that nurtures and encourages the minds of young children. To give children the availability to plan and construct their own ideas in a safe place where teachers are there to provide them with the materials they need. Most importantly a community where social/emotional growth is always first place in their environment. The idea is to construct a community for families, children and teachers where families miss their children but don’t worry about them. A place where we can take comfort that our children are safe, nurtured, and capable of taking risks in their play, focusing on social/emotional growth singularly and in a group setting.

Our Programs

Depending on your family’s needs, part-time or full-time schedule are available. Each program provides the support and tools necessary for social/emotional growth. Our school hours are 7:30 am to 5:00pm. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns so we can help you.

Full-Time Schedule

Play as You Learn Preschool offers a 5-day, full time schedule. This offers a wide variety of time for you to bring your child to school and to pick up as your schedule allows. We understand things in you work and home life can change, and family situations can come up.  


Part-time Schedule

An additional option to our program is a 3-day schedule. This can offer support when you are only looking to place your child in a smaller program.

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Contact Us

If you are interested in contacting us to set up a tour of the school

412 Matteri Cir
Cotati, Sonoma County 94931


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