Why Keystone?

Why Keystone?



All of the curiosity and learning at Keystone takes place as the kids play, sing, dance, laugh, and create! Keystone Wild Things enjoy a safe, stress-free childhood full of imagination, innovation, creation, climbing trees, caring for animals, and not worrying about dirty, bare feet.

At Keystone, these opportunities are intentionally woven into their days, at appropriately developmental increments under the watchful eyes of their teachers.

Keystone kids are wild and knee-deep in childhood! They are joyful, brave, messy, cheerful, inquisitive, affectionate, accepting, loud, stubborn, clever, mad, needy, silly, impatient, brilliant, beautiful, annoying, adorable, moody, creative, hungry, sleepy, not sleepy, gifted, dirty, delightful, and authentic — free to be themselves.

Keystone is childhood at its best: joyfully full-blast!


All children are curious, and curiosity is the key that unlocks learning. When we recognize and give attention to the expression of a child’s curiosity, they are invigorated to keep asking questions. At Keystone, we provide unstructured time, space, and play needed for the child’s curiosity to expand at a child-directed pace. This allows our kids to develop the skills of strategic, self-directed learners. 

What does this mean? 

(1) Keystone teachers are trained to teach through questioning. We turn the responsibility of searching and solving back onto the children, asking them what they think. 

(2) Keystone kids are democratically involved in the direction of group project, solving problems that arise as we stumble upon new ideas, or tangential pursuits. 

(3) We build in failure so children learn to make failure their friend and partner in the journey toward success. 

(4) We provide unstructured time, training the children to use “boredom” as a springboard towards innovation and creation of new pathways.

Children need to wonder and wander, and never stop asking “How so?” and “Why not?” Curiouser and Curiouser!


Keystone kids EXPECT to be known and welcomed each morning by name, because inclusion is modeled for them every day.

They are surrounded by teachers who approach with empathy, taking as much time as needed for the child to feel heard, seen, acknowledged, valued, understood. When children expect to be included, they organically include others, feel compassion and empathy, and learn to build authentic relationships.

Our children practice inclusion every day as they collaborate in large group project, the classroom, small groups, and in Art. They learn teambuilding in PE, on the playground, and caring for our farm animals. These connections are at the core of relationships and real learning 

We all deserve to be included!


This is the big one — children are the embodiment of love and love takes a lot of time. Because every teacher at Keystone is trained to approach every situation with empathy, each child responds in empathy for themselves and others. Acceptance, tolerance, patient listening, and the search for common ground are all modeled for children at Keystone.

Whether being celebrated or being disciplined, Keystone kids learn what love looks like: from quiet moments with a friend, to caring for a brand-new baby llama, to the enforcement of safe boundaries. 

Love can sound like “Yes” or “No” and still be love. At Keystone, we spend a lot of time helping our children understand that “No!” means “No!” The responsibility begins with teachers to only use the word “No!” if and when we are willing to stand by our word. In situations where a change of decision is possible or likely, even with small matters, we are mindful to try and choose words such as, “Not right now,” or “I’m considering your question. I’ll let you know when I have decided,” instead of “No!” 

We are committed to partnering with parents to raise children who are confident, kind, decent, courteous, careful with their words and actions, and who can find common ground with themselves and others. This begins and ends with love.


Learning at Keystone is active, flexible, dynamic, personalized, and individualized to each child. And they love it. 

Individualized programs for each child at Keystone provide a flexible and dynamic learning journey. Curiosity is piqued and sustained when children’s interest drives the hunt for more.

When safe and valued, curiosity is engaged, and the child is intrinsically motivated to keep learning. Guided by teachers and given the benefit of their personal timetable, they can navigate the process of learning without stress, delighting in the process, instead of avoiding the task.

Learning cannot be fully retained when the brain is under stress, under hydrated, or sleep deprived. The other parts of our day (music, art, barefoot play, spinning, climbing, falling, and swinging in The Cog) all work together to organize each child’s brain and sensory systems to make true learning ”stickier.” Keystone kids are on an exciting learning journey, expecting steady, progressive growth towards their best, and becoming true lovers of learning. 

We also believe that family time is especially important and increasingly rare, which is why we assign less homework than more traditional programs. 

Homework generally revolves around reading for pleasure in the lower grades and increases in time and skill as developmental academic needs require. And thanks to the hand-on learning, movement, and low stress levels, Keystone kids consistently meet and/or exceed milestones with retained and applied learning.


Keystone kids are not afraid to fail! They learn how to lose as a part of the learning process, developing confidence, grit, and strength, as they construct, redefine, and reimagine their successes. 

Keystone’s multi-age group Projects provide opportunities for strengths to emerge and challenges time to process. Democratic collaboration occurs constantly and gives every child a voice as they work towards the goal. 

Witnessing the powerful contribution of multiple learning styles builds understanding, acceptance, and gratitude for different ways to approach a problem. Mutual respect fortifies social and emotional safety, giving children the confidence to risk to learn, think divergently, create on a deeper level, problem solve, and follow the trail of curiosity blazes. And then they try again!


Kids at Keystone go barefoot, climb trees, dig holes, get wet, run fast, fall down, paint with expression, build with tools, sweep, clean, and even shovel the animals’ poop.

Our kids KNOW that self-esteem cannot be given, bought, or shared — it is earned through hard work that achieves a TRUE sense of accomplishment. And in addition to classroom work, Keystone kids work hard / play hard as they care for the animals, tend the garden, and clean their building. 

Each child has rubber boots they wear to the pasture, but in most other play, indoors and out, they may choose to be barefoot. Classrooms have baskets for shoes to be deposited into, and our “lost and found” is usually overflowing with forgotten shoes! 

After all, mud only squishes through barefoot toes! And as it squishes, new brain cells are forming … tons of sensory, cognitive, and neurological info comes in through children’s feet, building bridges for retention of learning, calming neuro systems, and sparking epiphany.

Which tells us what we already knew: Dirt is good, and barefoot children are rarely bored!


          “At Keystone, kids are eager to exit the vehicle in the morning, slow to enter the vehicle in the afternoon.” 

Keystone kids can’t wait to get to school and can’t wait to come back the next day. They know they can expect a morning full of adventure and discovery like: all-school music, care and feeding of our farm animals, running around the pond, or sensory play in The Cog. Focusing on the “ACTIVE” in “activities,” Keystone helps quell morning anxiety for children by expecting them to start their day outside, singing, and waking up their minds and bodies in ways they can feel. Keystone is fun because we honor how kids learn.


Through running conversations, unstructured time with teachers and the larger Keystone family, children are both learning and teaching us who they are.

Each child’s learning program is individualized, flexible, and attends to their learning style. 

Keystone kids know the teachers are their partners, guides, and encouragers. As the child builds their emotional and social foundation, they also construct their academic scaffolding (on their own timetable) supported by faculty and family who truly know them. It’s so nice to be known!


Boundaries, empathy, consistency, and balance are understood and welcomed by children, building a foundation for whole child safety. 

At Keystone, every situation is approached with empathy first. Children experience these concepts and realities reinforced daily through real life connections with listening teachers, other children, and farm animals. Partnering with parents builds consistency for children between home and school. 

Hard work and play balance to build authentic achievements, creating confident children who are safe to be exactly who they are! Safety is the core foundation from which everything else grows for the child. Children feel good feeling safe.

See Keystone Kids in Action

Let the Adventure Begin!