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Ashley's House

365 Hillside Ave
Piedmont, CA 94611

(510) 547-5170


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Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based

From the Director:

We like to stay in the moment with our children, pursuing their many interests and answering their questions. In addition to this child-led approach, we have times each day where there are teacher led activities and lessons, though no one is ever forced to participate. Most children LOVE to learn new things, whether it is the name of a stop sign's shape, or how to spell their names. If I sit down at the table with letter, number, shape, or color flash cards to work with one or two children, there will soon be a large group participating. This, I feel, is appropriate learning for two and three year olds. The younger children frequently watch the older ones, and later surprise us by parroting back what they have observed.

Curriculum & Teaching Approach

Learning Philosophy & Tools

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

More Information

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

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  • Puzzles
  • number recognition cards,counting games, etc. counting
Time & space more

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  • Parquetry blocks, pegboards, and mosaic toys
  • Building blocks
  • jigsaw puzzles,
Sci. reasoning/physical world more

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  • A place for science activities such as growing plants
  • bug catchers, magnifying glasses,
Music more

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  • Musical instruments
  • simple theory concepts taught in a fun format
Visual arts more

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

More Information

  • 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
  • dance "parties"
Other subjects taught Cantonese, Spanish, Music theory and singing, swimming most summers, gardening, art.

From the Director:

My children are from 1 1/2 to 4 years old, so our teaching is appropriate to these ages. Many of the best teaching opportunities occur spontaneously, springing from a child's interest in or curiosity about something in his environment.

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

We have had many special situations with our children, from delayed speech or motor development to mild autism and ADHD, to hearing loss. We work out a plan with the parents to develop a program which will most benefit their child . Sometimes this includes working with other professionals, such as speech therapists, etc.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

I believe that the business little children should be about is PLAY, PLAY, PLAY! Children are learning their every waking moment, and opportunities to teach them abound throughout the day, if you are tuned into their interests and ready to answer their questions. What we should really be striving to teach little ones is to love learning, and a play based environment is the beat way to achieve this. Any environment for children must be safe, nurturing, accepting, and encouraging. My teachers possess all of these qualities and for almost 30 years, we have been helping children to move out into the world beyond home in a comfortable, secure and loving way. One of my greatest pleasures is in seeing my "graduates" grow and succeed in their lives, and in having them come back to visit and share these successes with me. Most summers, we have graduates returning and helping out as aides, which is very exciting for the little ones who hero-worship these older children. Our families form friendships with each other, and frequently get together outside of daycare. Many of the children have stayed friends all the way through their school years, and a real community forms here with our families.

A Typical Day

Between 8 and 9 am, children arrive and choose their activities from the many available. Art projects may take place from 9 to 9:45; then we get ready for a walk, around the neighborhood, to a park, or to the fire station. Back to school for lunch at 11:30, then play until 12:15,when we have song and story time followed by naps. At 3:00, any long sleepers are awakened, and we have snacks. Then we go out to play in our yard until it begins to get too dark (winter) or our parents arrive for pick-up . This is the basic timetable, with- in which many interesting and fun things happen each day.

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

We chat with parents informally every day. We are always available by phone, and will schedule a meeting if it seems necessary. I frequently e-mail parents with some wonderful little tidbit from their child's day. I always try to help the parents in selecting a school that will be a good fit for their little one, and a month or so before "graduation", I take each child to visit his/her new school, where he/she can show me around. Then we can talk about their new school and get excited about this huge step. The parents are always eager to get feed-back about this visit. I often consult with parents about problems which might be occurring at home, and I frequently recommend reading material which addresses these issues. We work with parents on issues such as potty training, often letting them know that we have noticed signs of readiness on their child's part. Any problems which occur at school are discussed in a timely fashion, and I actually spend a fair amount of time reassuring parents of the normalcy of most behaviors.

Parents Say They are Encouraged to:

  • Hold social events at the school to build community
  • Are able to visit the school anytime we want
  • Receive newsletters

Modes of Communication

  • Notes
  • Phone Calls
  • Voice Mail
  • Email
  • Special Meetings
  • 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

Before the child actually begins attending, I schedule a number of visits, allowing him/her to become familiar and comfortable with the other children, the staff, and the space. At first, a parent stays for the visit, then gradually leaves for increasing amounts of time on subsequent visits until we have gone through a whole day. I encourage parents to pick-up early for the first week or so, as many children become anxious or sad when they see other children leaving with their parents. We all are very attentive to a new child, doing every thing in our power to help him/her become comfortable. This means different approaches for different children, and requires the adults in charge to be very observant and sensitive. I also try, whenever possible, to start new children on different dates so that more attention can be directed to the newcomer. I don't remember ever having a child who took more than a week to feel right at home, and most take much less than a week. I also call the parent who dropped off (who is sometimes still in my driveway, weeping in the car) to let them know how the separation is going, allowing them to hear the sound of NO Crying on the phone, and I often call again after lunch. To tell the truth, this transition is frequently harder on the parents than on the child.