Small Size Big Mind: Is it Play Based?

I'm wondering if any parents of kids at Small Size Big Mind campuses can provide some insights on the program? It gets amazing reviews and I appreciate the whimsy and thoughtfulness of the campus designs but am hoping for a playbased/Reggio style pre-school. It seems like the program incorporates a lot of play, but can't quite tell? Any insights would be greatly appreciated!

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Current SSBM parent at Santa Clara campus (started at Pan Am; moved bc of location convenience). Child there from 8-months to 18-months old (present). I would say resounding YES to play-based! I'm sure each classroom/teacher is different, but my sense is that a lot of time is spent in social/emotional learning around play.  

They have a ton of time for free play, but they also have structured center time where they do some very light academic learning at the table (this is for the 2’s). It seems like most of that time incorporates arts and crafts to learn about shapes, letters, seasons, etc. (we get a ton of artwork sent home). They also have some music, dance, yoga activities. I think it’s really well-rounded, but if you’re not into any structured time at all, then they’re probably not what you’re looking for.

My son has been at Small Size Big Minds (the original/Bridgeview campus) for coming up on two years, from when he was just under three. We've been happy with the program and style, though I'm not sure they'd quite fall under playbased. There is lots of unstructured/child-directed time, especially in the "transition" level class for 2-3 year olds. But there is also a curriculum that becomes more focused in the Pre-K class (3 and 4 year olds). For example, each month has a theme (snow, dinosaurs, construction) and every day they have rotations with an art, science, and literacy section loosely connected to that month's theme. They also have guest teachers that come in each day - a music teacher one day a week, an art teacher one day, and then two different dance teachers. I will say that my son loves these supplemental classes and teachers. He often talks about the music and one of the dance classes. Some of these more structured curriculum pieces have seemed a bit more rigid to me than would be my ideal - for example, some of the art they do with their usual teachers is pretty directed by the teachers, with all the pieces coming out looking the same (though the weekly guest art teacher focuses on process based art) and they do spend time on letters and counting (with the occasionally worksheet). But the science experiments have the kids making their own hypotheses, mixing baking soda and vinegar and putting food coloring in everything, etc. that gives the kids quite a bit of freedom. There are several hours of outside and inside "free" time a day that all seem very play based, with lots of thoughtfully designed places to play in. The outdoor area is super fun with a mud kitchen area, sandbox, grassy hill, different structures, and views of the water. And there's also nap time, lunch, and snacks. So the less play based part of the day might only be 1-2 hours? At least at our campus, the transition class (2-3 year olds) is probably more purely play based with an energetic and silly lead teacher that the kids love. They do a lot of "messy" and sensory activities that my son really enjoyed. Oh and while perhaps not play based, the kids also get some exposure to Spanish and gardening (lots of beautiful plant areas of the outdoor space and time for things like digging and watering). While not what you're asking about, the parent community is also a draw, with some on campus happy hours, optional monthly "pizza nights" where the kids can stay until 9:30pm and parents sometimes get together, etc. Hope this helps!