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Our Approach

"Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning.  But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood."

— Fred Rogers

Our Mission

To provide a creative learning experience emphasizing outdoor play and family participation in a safe environment that respects each child’s uniqueness and individual learning style. 

Our Philosophy

Since 1948, Tucson Community School has embraced a child-centered approach to early education that promotes learning through play. We believe that play is foundational to children’s growth and development. When children play, they learn to problem solve, develop language and social skills, and practice controlling their impulses and emotions. What’s more, play leads to the exploration, discovery, mastery, and self-satisfaction that inspire a life-long love of learning.

Two preschoolers in the play yard are draped over a giant tire, heads upside-down, investigating the inside.

At TCS, we’ve designed a curriculum ideal for this kind of learning. Our teachers embrace a constructivist approach that views young children as active participants in the learning process. From music and movement to hands-on project work, our programs encourage children’s self-expression, confidence, and independence. Each child is allowed to develop at their own pace, while also learning to share in group responsibility. Ultimately, we strive to lay the foundation for the inner strength our children will need to thrive in an ever-changing world.

TCS’s unique approach to educating young children is also grounded in our belief that families are critical to a child’s early learning experiences. Joining TCS means joining a group of warm, creative, and engaged parents. Parents participate in daily classroom activities through Classroom Helper Days and are involved in the direction of the school through committee work. Each year, we learn together, make connections, and play together as an essential part of school life.

Three smiling preschoolers climb and hang off the branches of a palo verde tree.

Our Campus

Tucson Community School is a vibrant and inviting environment for learning—full of art, color, song, movement, and joy.


Like our curriculum, our campus is designed to enable children to learn through independent exploration. Large classrooms and spacious outdoor play yards make the possibilities for creativity endless. Indoors, children find areas dedicated to important activities such as block building, painting, science and nature, reading, music, and housekeeping. Outdoors, choices for play include bike riding, climbing, large-block building, gardening, animal care, and wood-working. Across campus, a wide supply of quality, safe materials are made available for play and discovery.

Tucson Community School’s outdoor play spaces, in particular, have evolved over generations of children and families playing, dreaming, building, and creating, and are rich in unique, real experiences—not sanitized by commercial equipment. There are quiet spaces and group spaces; spaces to actively play with a few friends, and spaces to quietly commune with nature. Open-ended equipment encourages children to engage their senses, build and test their strength, take healthy risks, and meet new challenges as they explore their growing sense of self and understanding of the world.


All TCS activities take place on our closed campus, so staff, children, and parents can feel secure. Each classroom has its own bathroom, for children’s convenience and to promote independence in bathroom routines. A full kitchen permits parent helpers to prepare the day's snack and a beautiful library allows children and families to sit and read or check out books to enjoy at home.

Cactus Pattern
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