The Little Red Playschool opened in the Palisades neighborhood of Washington, DC in September of 1984 as a nursery/preschool for two to four year olds.  We now offer an afterschool program for 4-6 year olds, cooking classes, playgroups and more.


Our philosophy

Play is the work of young children! It is messy, unpredictable, spontaneous, freewheeling and sometimes even a little scary. In other words, PLAY, is a lot like life!

At the Little Red Playschool we place equal emphasis upon the social, physical, emotional and intellectual aspects of a child's pre-school experience and therefore value the development of the whole child.

Play is practice in choosing, doing, and problem solving. When children play, they are thinking, innovating, negotiating and taking risks. They create make-believe events and practice physical, social, and cognitive skills as they engage in these events as if they were real. Teachers support play by providing a variety of things to do, observing what unfolds, and staying nearby to help as needed and to acknowledge children's actions and words.

The sandbox in winter

The sandbox in winter

“Miss Barbara’s school was my favorite school ever and I didn’t want to leave there. I loved playing with the kitchen and the babies the best.”
— Aden, now 7 years old

Program goals

  • To help children become kind and caring participants in a world that includes everyone.
  • To create the feeling that everyone is equally worthwhile.
  • To focus attention on the whole child: social, emotional, intellectual and physical growth.


  • To begin to learn the life skills of: cooperation, self-confidence, independence, responsibility, and respect for ourselves and each other.
  • To stimulate natural curiosity .
  • To encourage tolerance and diversity.
Taking care of the garden in Fall.

Taking care of the garden in Fall.

The years our children spent at the Little Red Playschool were filled with warmth, comfort, self-discovery, friendship and, most of all, joy. The cocoon of safe, loving acceptance that Barbara provided validated their intrinsic sense of self-worth that has remained with them throughout their childhood, teenage and young adult years. We are truly grateful to Barbara and her extraordinary school for helping us to launch our children into the “outside” world in such a profoundly wonderfull way.
— Shelly Ruddick
Outdoor collaborative art projects

Outdoor collaborative art projects