History and Philosophy

Caring, Sharing, and Growing Together for more than 50 years

In 1963, several families came together to form a cooperative school for the purpose of providing a quality preschool and kindergarten experience for their children. (At that time, Fairfax County Public Schools did not offer Kindergarten). The founders of Spring-Mar firmly believed in the “whole family” approach and thus, Spring-Mar was “born”!

Back then, the school was located in the Bren Mar area of Springfield near Edsall Road. Several years later, the school moved to Kirkwood Presbyterian Church and adopted the name Spring-Mar Preschool Association, Inc. After thirty-two years at that location, the school moved again in 1998 to our present location at Accotink Unitarian Universalist Church in Burke.

This year marks our 60th year in operation as a non-profit, parent-owned, and parent-operated preschool! We are thankful to the many men and women who have worked hard through the years to keep this school an exciting place for young children to grow and learn.

Our Philosophy

Learning through play

Spring-Mar classroom curricula are rooted in the belief that play-based study is the most effective way for early learners to experience science, language, arts, mathematics, music, creative art, and social studies. Countless educational organizations, including the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), recommend this developmental approach over a traditional skills-based program to provide children with the best foundation for future success in school.

But what does “play-based learning” really mean?

A simple definition would be “learning by doing”.  This means children use hands-on activities to formulate an understanding of the world and learning concepts rather than being instructed in rote academic details.

How does the play-based approach look different from a traditional approach in the classroom?

To illustrate this model, we’ll excerpt some information from Erika Christakis, Lecturer on Early Childhood Education at the Yale University Child Study Center, and Nicholas Christakis, social scientist and physician, who compared both philosophies.

We apply these powerful ideas at Spring-Mar, where learning through play is everywhere and all five senses are engaged every day.  Walk through our classrooms and you’ll:

  • SEE castles built from recycled materials
  • HEAR the sounds of children exploring new musical instruments while they sing and dance
  • TOUCH the bins of beans and rice at the sensory tables the kids use to hide and seek objects
  • SMELL the cool mud kids touch while they “meet” and feed compost worms
  • TASTE the flavors of homemade pancakes that Spring-Mar kids made by measuring ingredients, mixing, and watching the food cook

At Spring-Mar, we firmly believe our graduates are better prepared for academic success by learning through play while they are in preschool.