About Us

Our Philosophy

The Learning Pavilion, formerly known as The Dick Howser Center for Childhood Services, is a smart-play preschool that strives to be inclusive for all children, and uses a play-based curriculum that emphasizes self worth, capability, and school readiness. We focus on assisting children to develop the social and communication skills needed to work and play cooperatively. Our staff members encourage children to be self- directing and to make decisions for themselves. We want each child to realize his or her greatest potential and to gain confidence, skills, and independence that will last a lifetime!

For various reasons, many early childhood programs are placing emphasis on formal academic instruction. Parents have a fear that their children will not be “ready” for school. Many people feel that if children only “play” in the first 5 years, they will not be able to learn in kindergarten and beyond. Early emphasis on academic skills simply ignores what research has shown time and time again about how young children learn. Young children learn best through active, well-planned, hands-on, child-directed activities…play! Play that is thoughtfully set up, monitored, and supported by teachers trained in the principles of child development will set children up for academic success in the future.

Before children can master formal academic skills in a way that is meaningful to them, they have to have a good understanding of the physical world and how it works. Children need to see, touch, smell, hear, taste and experience the world by interacting directly with it. We believe what this research says,… “Children learn best through play!” Please, don’t feel guilty about letting your child play…insist on it!

In order to create more space and opportunity for play-based learning, we have opened a new building on our campus dedicated to Bruce Harter, an inspiring advocate for children with developmental delays and disabilities.

After being diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy in 1948, Bruce’s mother fought to have him educated in traditional, mainstream education despite doctors’ urges to have him institutionalized. Now, after graduating from Florida State University, leading a successful career and serving on the Board of Dick Howser Cerebral Palsy program and Goodwill Industries of the Big Bend, Bruce continues to strive to provide other children with similar opportunities.


In addition to a mutual admiration for Goodwill Industries of the Big Bend, Bruce’s dedication to our students is highly revered. As an ode to Bruce’s achievements and advocacy, the new building seeks to provide a space for additional technology, services and students. In order to remain true to our values and maintain education for all children, regardless of developmental delays and disabilities, The Learning Pavilion will continue to revive and upgrade our specialized campus to meet the various needs of all children.

Our Partnership with Goodwill of the Big Bend

Since February of 2010, The Learning Pavilion has partnered with Goodwill Big Bend. Goodwill provides TLP with administrative support and fundraising.

When you shop at a Goodwill location in the Big Bend Region and “round up” your purchase, that extra change, goes directly to TLP. Throughout the Big Bend, many Goodwill customers choose to “round up” their purchase, costing them a few extra cents, but added together, TLP is able to convert that generosity into major quality enhancements for young children.

Each month, TLP receives the “round up” donation and uses it to pay for extra staff that provide more 1-on-1 supervision, therapy services and scholarships for care for parents who cannot afford the high cost of child care, but don’t qualify for other programs.

Offering quality child care is very expensive – extra staff, enhanced staff training, therapy equipment and much more. Because of the donations through Goodwill’s Round Up program, TLP is able to provide these unique, quality enhancing aspects to the children of the Tallahassee area.

Our Community Partners