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German-american Preschool/kindergarten

275 Elliott Dr.
Menlo Park, CA 94025

(650) 324-8617


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Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based

From the Director:

In 2004 the German American International School recognized the Primary Years Programm of the IB as being the ideal educational direction for the school’s diverse and internationally minded community. The GAIS became the first authorized PYP school in the Bay Area. In addition GAIS is the first school in the world to teach the PYP entirely in the German language. There are many reasons why this program provides the foundations for an outstanding education for all of our students: The PYP is a transdisciplinary program of international education designed to foster the development of the whole child. The PYP focuses on the total growth of the developing child, touching hearts as well as minds and encompassing social, physical, emotional and cultural needs in addition to academic development. The PYP draws on research and best practices from a range of national systems with a wealth of knowledge and experience from international schools to create a relevant, engaging, challenging and significant educational framework for all children. The PYP is recognized world-wide and allows for easy transition to other IB schools for internationally mobile families.

Curriculum & Teaching Approach

Learning Philosophy & Tools

  Play- based mostly teacher led not formally in curriculum conducive environment
Language       more

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  • Tracing paper and other writing instruments
  • A well-stocked bookcase
Oral language  
Nursery rhymes, poems, songs  
Storybook reading  
Emerging literacy skills  
Cognitive development
Math & number sense more

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  • Puzzles
  • Graphing, classification, counting, etc.
Time & space more

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  • Calendars and clocks
  • Parquetry blocks, pegboards, and mosaic toys
  • Maps
  • Building blocks
Sci. reasoning/physical world more

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  • A place for science activities such as growing plants
  • Pets for children to watch and care for
  • Many materials and projects offered invite scientific exploration and reasoning
Music more

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  • Musical instruments
  • Singing
Visual arts more

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  • Materials such as paint, ink, paintbrushes, crayons, markers, chalk, paper, etc.
  • Art work on the walls
Physical activity more

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  • A playground with climbing equipment
  • Bean bags, balls, and other objects that children can throw, kick, and play
  • Tricycles
  • Enough room for children to move around and play and a suitable indoor alternative to the outdoor playground on rainy days
  • Sandboxes and/or water stations for play
  • Bikes, scooters, pedal free bikes
Other subjects taught

From the Director:

GAIS preschool offers a good balance between structure (circle time, teacher guided activities and art projects, gym time, story time, music, exploration and inquiry into the current units, etc.) and much time for free exploration (painting, exploring own ideas for own art projects, building, bike riding, problem solving, deciding where to play and whom to play with, etc.)

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

Our preschool classes are age-mixed, which allows for activities that challenge different ages and abilities.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

The Preschool of the German-American International School is a place where children are given the opportunity to learn and grow as whole individuals. To do so, preschool activities address the needs of the total child. We believe that social, physical, emotional, and cognitive growth are interrelated and are of equal value. The preschool is designed to encourage and guide children in the development of self-direction, individual responsibility, and intellectual growth.

We believe that children can reach their fullest potential if they are able to develop a positive self-image. To emphasize this goal, our preschool offers an environment in which they can learn to choose their activities, cooperate, share and form friendships with peers. As a matter of fact, our philosophy is very similar to that of the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

Many schools seem to emphasize the intellectual growth of the child but the social-emotional and motor development often gets neglected. At this age, it is more important that children learn how to make friends, solve problems and resolve conflicts, assert themselves, become responsible and independent, ride a bike and are overall physically active, than being able to recite the ABC’s.

A Typical Day

8:30 Arrival
8:30-9:00 Greeting, free play, puzzles, manipulatives, etc.
9:00 Circle time. Includes music, stories, conversations and inquiry about current units, etc.
9:30 Project time with a teacher guided activity
10:00 Snack time
10:15 Children can choose to play freely or participate in offered activities inside or outside.
11:45 Lunch time
12:15 Inside/Outside Playtime/Story time
1:00 Clean-up outside
1:15 Clean-up inside
1:25 Circle time
1:45 Pick-up time

On some days the children visit the gym and school library. Music and arts are integrated into the daily curriculum.

1:45 Afternoon Care Program Begins
2:00 Nap time for younger children/ Project time for older children
3:00 Inside/Outside Playtime
3:30 Snack time
4:00 Inside/Outside Playtime
Activities are offered throughout the afternoon, such as games, art activities, gym time, story time etc.
Children are picked-up throughout the afternoon.
6:00 Program ends

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

Ways of communication with parents include:
- Regular info mails to parents about what is happening in the class
- Regular school info mail to inform parents about what is happening in the preschool, elementary and middle school
- Parent-teacher conferences with progress report
- Speaker series
- Informal communication with parents at the end of the day
- Access to daily planner

Parents Say They are Encouraged to:

  • Sit on the board of trustees
  • Hold social events at the school to build community
  • Fundraise
  • Are required to make donations ourselves
  • Are able to visit the school anytime we want
  • Go on field trips
  • Volunteer in the classroom
  • Receive newsletters

Modes of Communication

  • Notes
  • Phone Calls
  • Email
  • Special Meetings
  • Two or More Regular Conferences
  • Drop-Off
  • Pick-Up
  • Regular newsletter/printed updates circulated to the whole school


Separation is Handled through:

  • Pre-entry meetings with parents at school
  • Abbreviated schedule at start of school year

Handling Separation: From the Director

Parents that anticipate separation anxiety will make a plan with their child's teacher that works for their individual situation. In some cases that means an abbreviated schedule for a child to ease the transition. Sometimes, it can be helpful for the child if the parent stays a little, in other cases, it can make separation more difficult if parents stay too long. The key is communicating a plan with the teacher and the child and to be consistent.