Preschool: Early Childhood Institute

The Early Childhood Institute (ECI) is a licensed child care program through the State of Florida – Department of Children and Families (DCF) within the Museum. The program works with children ranging from ages 12 months to 5 years old. ECI has also earned accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the nation’s leading organization of early childhood professionals. The educational components of ECI are inspired by the High Scope Curriculum and the Reggio Emilia Philosophy. To ensure that optimal learning occurs, we have created intimate classrooms with smaller teacher-student ratios. Research has found that “optimal social and emotional growth occurs when students are provided with smaller class sizes and additional one-on-one attention in the classroom.”

ECI Preschool is open Monday-Friday from 8:30AM – 6:00PM.

Registration for 2022-2023 is now open! Download the registration form and please send the completed form to

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Active Learning

The curriculum is based on the belief that children learn best through “active learning,” direct, hands-on experience with people, objects, events and ideas. Children are encouraged to “construct” their own knowledge by pursuing personal goals, guided by trained adults who understand the important learning areas for children in the preschool years. Active learning is central to all the activities in the program, whether planned by adults or initiated by children.

Classroom Arrangement, Materials & Equipment

The space and materials in our classroom are carefully selected and arranged to promote active learning. The classroom is divided into “interest areas” organized around specific kinds of play.

Daily Routine

We provide children a sense of control over the events of the day by planning a consistent daily routine that enables children to anticipate what happens next. A central element of our daily routine is the “plan-do-review-sequence;” other key elements are small and large group times, greeting time and outside time.

Preschool Curriculum Content

In the classroom, children explore, ask-and-answer questions, solve problems and interact with classmates and adults as they pursue their choices and plans. During this process they engage in teacher and child-initiated learning activities in 10 child development content areas. Within each content area are “key experiences” that foster developmentally important skills and abilities (please click the links below for more information). There are 58 key experiences for the preschool years.


The COR (Child Observation Record) is used to evaluate child progress and an “Ages and Stages” assessment tool is used bi-annually to assess child’s developmental progress.

For more information, contact Natalie Williams at (305) 373-5437 ext. 122 or