About A Child’s Garden

About 150 infants, toddlers, and preschoolers are welcomed at A Child’s Garden each day. Thirty competent and caring teachers and resource staff support the children’s growth and development in a child-centered setting. Half-day, extended day and full day programs function according to high-quality standards established by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Mary Matteucci serves as the director, joining A Child’s Garden in January 2015 with 25 years in the field of education.  She is dually certified in General and Special Education.


The goals have remained essentially the same as when they were stated for the 1972-73 school year, as follows:

  1. To provide for each child a warm and supportive climate where he/she is respected and trusted.
  2. To foster positive feelings in the child about self, family, school and community.
  3. To stimulate the child to explore and discover the world around herself/himself through concrete, manipulative experiences.
  4. To encourage the child to actively participate in his/her learning by planning, decision making and solving problems.
  5. To assure the child’s feelings of success through mastery of his/her environment.
  6. To provide the child with opportunities for interaction with a diverse population of children and families, including children with special needs.
  7. To provide a self-selective, integrated learning environment which incorporates early mathematics, early literacy, language development, science, creative expression (art, music, drama, dance), social studies, health and safety, and physical development. Social-emotional development is inextricably linked across all areas of curriculum and development.
  8. To provide opportunities for family involvement and participation in the program. ACG’s “Curriculum in Action” is not “taught” in isolated blocks of time. It is integrated throughout the day into various activities. Within the curriculum components listed above (math, science, early literacy, social studies, etc.) several broad areas of study are particularly well suited for integrating all areas of the curriculum across time. This “Curriculum in Action” framework includes a description of ways some of these can be implemented. Among these are cooking, animals/pets, water play, sand play, and construction.

Encouraging Success

At A Child’s Garden, we strive to develop the social and emotional growth of the children by providing them with challenging, engaging, and rich experiences. Our guidance policy promotes independence, cooperation, compassion and respect for all. We encourage open communication between the children as well as with adults, promoting positive relationships. These relationships create a welcoming, safe, and nurturing environment meeting the individual needs of each child.




A Child's Garden was established in 1971 as a non-sectarian community outreach program of First Presbyterian Church. The founding mothers, who were members of the church (many of them with young children,) shared a vision to provide a school experience for young children that acknowledged the development of the whole child--social, emotional, physical, cognitive and affective domains of development.

The first year the program director and teachers met weekly to develop a "Curriculum in Action" based on sound early-childhood theory and practice that has proven consistent with current brain research about how young children learn (see goals) rather than being organized into a prescribed curriculum.

The preschool grew quickly from three classrooms to 10, including programs for toddlers through kindergarten (which was not offered in New Mexico public schools until 1975). Many dedicated professionals continue to provide a learning environment consistent with the school's history of putting child development theory into practice.

A Child's Garden was the first preschool in New Mexico to be accredited by the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs. It provides a facility for students from University of New Mexico and Central New Mexico Community College to observe and experience working with young children. An inclusion program for children with special needs is also offered.


Working together

A Child’s Garden Preschool (ACG), a non-sectarian community outreach program of First Presbyterian Church, is committed to providing a developmentally appropriate learning environment for a diverse population of young children respectful of the individual needs, cultural heritage and identity of each child.


Curriculum Philosophy of A Child’s Garden Preschool

A Child’s Garden is a fully inclusive program that accepts children of all abilities, of all backgrounds and all socio-economic levels.  The program is play-based, incorporating best early childhood practices and quality standards from the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the New Mexico Department of Children, Youth and Families. All children learn differently and at different rates.

Children are active learners, acquiring knowledge and learning through their daily experiences at home and in the classroom. Each child is an individual, with unique strengths, interests, personality and approach to learning. Early childhood learning emphasizes cooperative play in an atmosphere of acceptance and respect. The environment is sensitive to the child’s individual needs.