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BlueSkies for Children formerly AOCS

3021 Brookdale Avenue
Oakland, CA 94602

(510) 261-1076


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Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based

From the Director:

Caring for Infants, Toddlers and Pre-schoolers, Blueskies for Children programs for children are all based on principles of respect: respect for the child's unfolding growth process, respect for the child's individual temperament, respect for proven principles of child development and respect for the needs of an individual as part of society. This respectful approach to the care of young children is demonstrated through six age-appropriate classroom and yard spaces, educated and thoughtful caregivers, nutritious meals and snacks, quiet naps and rest time, and facilitated play with other children. Balanced attention is provided for all areas of the child's development - physical, social, emotional and cognitive - to support and challenge each one to develop the self-esteem and social awareness that will inform all future human interaction and educational endeavors. The Hedco Infant Toddler Center includes programs for children under 2?; classrooms for the older children are in the Ellen Sherwood Nursery School. Offering care over a 5-year age span allows a rare level of consistency for children, with the learning in each developmental classroom building on what came before and supporting what comes next. BlueSkies families become part of a community where the children know each other like siblings, the teachers build special connections to the family, and ultimately families build bonds to other families that last far beyond BlueSkies. BlueSkies values and celebrates diversity by creating a community from families of varying racial and cultural groups, religious beliefs, physical abilities and socio-economic and alternative backgrounds.

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
  • A language rich environment; teachers who know how to support individual children at each level of pre-literacy
Oral language  
Nursery rhymes, poems, songs  
Storybook reading  
Emerging literacy skills  
Cognitive development
Math & number sense more

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  • Puzzles
  • Many sets of objects for sorting and counting
Time & space more

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  • Calendars and clocks
  • Parquetry blocks, pegboards, and mosaic toys
  • Maps
  • Building blocks
  • Large hollow construction 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
  • Lots of time in yards with rich natural environment to explore
Music more

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  • Musical instruments
  • Daily singing and finger plays with teachers; weekly professional Orff Kodaly instruction
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
Other subjects taught BlueSkies for Children places a strong focus on social-emotional development, understanding that strong foundations in this area form the basis for all future success in life. Children who understand themselves, and their place in the social milieu, will succeed academically when their brains are ready for the more structured cognitive focus of elementary school.

From the Director:

In all areas of learning, young children are most successful when given opportunities to make their own discoveries about the world. Therefore the teachers' role is to structure classrooms and yards in such a way that the children's free exploration will lead them to interesting discoveries, appropriate to their age and development. The low ratios allow the teachers to be available for coaching as needed to support the child's growth in social, emotional, cognitive and physical development.

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

The child-initiated learning that forms most of the children's experience at BlueSkies for Children allows for much individual variation; 'typically developing' children typically have many styles of learning which should be supported in infant toddler care and preschool settings. BlueSkies often includes children with special needs as well, wanting to reflect the rich diversity of the world in which we live. Teachers believe that each child should be accepted where he is, and given the support and challenges appropriate to further his growth.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

The mission of AOCS is to practice and teach an optimal approach to education and care of young children based on the interrelated disciplines of human development.

Such an approach sustains and supports today's children and families and provides a model educational center for caregivers and the community.

The Children's Program is designed to both provide caring adults and a rich environment for young children out of their homes all day, as well as strong support systems for parents who work out of the home all day.

A Typical Day

The day varies according to the age of the group, since AOCS admits children as young as 3 months.

In all groups, 'Play' is defined as a time when the children may choose from many appropriate activities, supervised and coached by teachers so that the children will grow and learn from their play.

This is the typical schedule in the preschool:

Children who arrive before 8:15 may eat breakfast

7:30 - 8:15 breakfast

8:15 - 9:00 Play in the yard

9:00 - 11:00 Play of the child's choice in the same-age group classroom and adjacent yard, including time for a snack of fruit and milk if the child desires

11:00 - 11:30 Quiet play, stories

11:30 - 12:00 Lunch (cooked on site)

12:00 - 2:00 Nap or rest, followed by multi-age group play in the yard

2:00 - 4:00 Play of the child's choice in a different same-age classroom and adjacent yard, providing variety in the day for children enrolled in full day care; snack available if desired

4:00 - 6:00 Small multi-age group clusters, playing quietly until pick-up.

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

Daily notes and conversations between parents and teachers.

Conferences at least annually.

Parent-planned Education seminars Annual Program Philosophy meetings.

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
  • Volunteer in the classroom
  • Receive newsletters

Modes of Communication

  • Notes
  • Phone Calls
  • Voice Mail
  • 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
  • Extra staff dedicated to handle separation
  • Parents in classroom early on
  • Abbreviated schedule at start of school year

Handling Separation: From the Director

Phased in transition to school - depending on the age and temperament of the child, can be anything from a few days to several weeks long. Following transition period there are developmental phases of separation anxiety which are handled with compassion for both parent and child.