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Buen Dia Family School

589 Guerrero Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

(415) 431-3535


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Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based

From the Director:

At Buen Dia Family School, the Director and Teachers form relationships with each family that empowers the child and promotes self-esteem. We feel that if children learn to see themselves as competent individuals in these early years, they will be confident and better able to meet the challenges presented in everyday life. A curriculum which emphasizes the value of self-esteem, the importance of personal discovery and the respect for individual differences is especially critical in San Francisco, where 53% of families (according to San Francisco Unified School District) are non-traditional and where there is great ethnic diversity. Many educators believe that young children begin to develop awareness both of differences and of socially prevailing biases by the time they are three. With this in mind, Buen Dia is committed to providing a flexible curriculum responsive to the needs of children. Although there are structured activities during the day, we believe that allowing children to explore their environment in their own way is closer to the basic nature of early learning. As teachers we examine our own perceptions and attempt to interact with children in an open and accepting manner. The Buen Dia program integrates not only materials and activities that are sensitive to the uniqueness of each child but also fosters a conscious way of being, talking and acting according to the needs of each child. The teachers try to make the children feel good and comfortable about themselves and the characteristics of their cultures and families that make them special. For this reason, the parents are part of the 'Buen Dia Family' too, and constitute the best resource to enrich our program. At the beginning of each year, we start with an activity we call 'Personality Bags/Bolsas de Personalidad'. Each child brings a bag to school with some special things to share at group. This is a way to learn about them and to validate who they are. We also have a family unit called 'Nuestras Familias'; each child brings in labeled photos of his or her family which are displayed on a giant poster in the school so that everyone can see all the kinds of families there are. Throughout the year we celebrate many holidays in nonreligious ways and encourage parents to participate in a variety of ways - from making a group presentation regarding a celebration of another interest to making snacks with the children as well as working on fundraising projects. To give each child an opportunity to act out his or her own story, we offer a dramatic storytelling project at a grouptime session. The author of the story directs it and chooses his/her own role as well as those the other children will play. This is an empowering process that enhances each child's sense of worth and love of storytelling, especially since the stories are not censored. This activity is fun, nurturing and encourages the children to work together and appreciate each other's ideas. We also have many small group activities that strengthen self-confidence and promote awareness of cultures and lifestyles. A primary goal is to take collective responsibility for the children's growth and development. We respect the experience of each child and try to center our curriculum around the ideas and interests of the children. Extracted from the Buen Dia Family School Web-Site

Curriculum & Teaching Approach

From the Director:

Preschool life at Buen Dia is based on a philosophy of structured freedom. The daily routine provides a framework within which the children alternate between activities that they choose to participate in and those which everyone participates in together, either in large or small groups. Daily activities emphasis is in four areas: art, language development, block building, cooking and science, music and outdoor play. Each day of the week has a special activity at group time. Monday is sharing day, when children have an opportunity to share with words. Each child is encouraged to bring something from home to share with their peers. On Tuesdays, some of the children go to KinderGym at the University of California, San Francisco and some of the children have music with a performing arts specialist. Wednesdays the children have Spanish group. Thursdays and Fridays the children meet in small groups of age mates with whom they engage in science experiments or mini-field trips. Each month of the school year is punctuated with special projects and events that include the children's families. Special projects encourage the children to share who they are as individuals and as members of a family with their classmates and teachers. For example, the school year begins with the children putting together a display about what they did over summer vacation and sharing their 'Personality Bags' with the school. Special Annual Events provide opportunities for the children to share their experiences, their families and their diverse cultures with the school community, as well as expose the children to a variety of cultural traditions important to the wider community. For example, in November, the children bring organic vegetables of their choice to make 'Friendship Soup'.? In February children celebrate the Lunar New Year by making a huge dragon with which they parade around the block accompanied by live music. In May the children serve their parents breakfast for Parents Appreciation Day. In preparation, the children paint aprons, cook food, paint placemats and menus, and set and decorate the tables. Each school year culminates with a graduation ceremony in which all children are honored for their contribution to the school community that year. In anticipation, the children make props and sets, write stories, and create books of stories and writings. On graduation day, the children put on a dramatic performance of their stories (read aloud by teachers), which incorporate acrobatic and dance feats of their imagination accompanied by live music played by the teachers. Throughout the year we celebrate many holidays in nonreligious ways and encourage parents to participate in any way they can--from presenting a special group on Dia de los Muertos to making different snacks with the children for Passover, or planting a tree in our yard for Earth Day. Buen Dia's celebrations reflect the parent population and the greater community in San Francisco, with the hope of honoring the children's reality. Extracted from the Buen Dia Family School Web-Site

Day in the Life

General School Mission

"In 1977, Buen Dia Family School was founded on the understanding that when young children learn to see themselves as competent individuals, they will be confident and better able to meet the challenges presented in everyday life. Through a developmental, learn-by-doing approach, the curriculum encourages self-expression and active exploration. The school strives to provide opportunities for positive interactions, discovery and learning. Through a wide variety of creative arts, block play, cooking, science, language development, music and outdoor play, young children learn about their world and discover its physical properties through their senses. They gain self confidence in their abilities, they learn to express their feelings and ideas, and are encouraged to consider events in different ways. They also learn to release energy in non-aggressive ways and follow directions to achieve a rewarding goal. Buen Dia offers a program for preschool children ages three to five. The teaching staff is culturally sensitive to the individual needs of the children and there is a Spanish-bilingual component to the program."

Extracted from the Buen Dia Family School Web-Site

A Typical Day

7:45-9:00 a.m. Greet children and parents. Parents sign in and relate any important messages to the teacher who is greeting that day. Many children have their own good-bye ritual that helps them with this transition.
7:45-10:00 a.m. All the classroom areas on the main level are open: block area, dress-up room, art area and the front room--where you find all the manipulatives and books. This is a free time and children can choose where they want to play. Free play allows for personal discovery and is an important part of our day. Furthermore, children tend to concentrate more and extend their learning when they can choose most of their own activities. Some free play activities include: play dough, books, science table, drawing and outdoor activities.
8:30-10:15 a.m. The yard is open.
9:00-10:10 a.m. Prepared Art Project. Children are encouraged to participate but are not required to do so.
9:00-10:00 a.m. Snack Preparation. Children are encouraged to come and help prepare snack as with the art project; this is a voluntary activity.
10:15-10:30 a.m. Group Time. Different activities are planned each day. Some group times involve all the children; others involve children meeting in their small groups. The daily schedule is as follows:
Monday: Sharing in small groups. Children bring something from home to share with their peers or talk about a subject of their choice.
Tuesday: Kinder Gym preparation. Children who are going to k-gym are told during group time. The children that stay go to music at 11:00 am. taught by a performing arts specialist who comes twice a week.
Wednesday: Spanish Group. All the children meet in the front area for group time. Concepts are taught such as: colors, shapes, foods, memory games, songs, games, etc.
Thursday/Friday: Small Groups. This is a time when a small group of children meet the same teacher each day to share their thoughts, discuss issues important to them, engage in a science experiment or go on a mini field trip. Before going to small groups, announcements or special presentations sometimes occur with everyone together in a large group.
10:30 a.m. Hand Washing and Snack Time. The children participate in clean up and hand washing before snack.
10:45-12:00 p.m. Free Play Time. All the areas of the school are open. On Tuesdays there is music at 11:00, on Thursdays there is a dramatic storytelling project (where children dictate stories to the teacher and later act them out with their peers on a stage). On Fridays we have a Capoeira specialist that comes and teaches a class to two of the groups. Capoiera is a Brazilian martial art.
11:55-12:00 p.m. Clean-up Time.
12:00-12:30 p.m. Lunch Time.
12:30-1:00 p.m. Outdoor and indoor play for the children. They can use the computers, play on the stage (a mini kindergym), read books and play with the science and math games.
12:45 p.m. Nappers go to bathroom and get ready for nap.
1:00-2:00 p.m. Nap Time.
1:15-2:00 p.m. Resters go to the classroom on the lower level for rest time.
2:00-3:00 p.m. Art. The children who are awake can participate in the afternoon art project. The yard and the block area are open and there are activities set up on the tables.
2:15-3:00 p.m. Snack Preparation.
3:00 p.m. Many children leave at this time. Teachers help children put on their shoes and get ready to go home a little before 3:00 pm. All nappers are usually awake at this time.
3:30-3:50 p.m. Group Time. There is a Spanish group twice a week. Parents come and do special presentations on varied subjects. (Special cultural holidays, their jobs, singing, sharing an important event in their lives, etc...) Otherwise, the afternoon teacher introduces either an activity for the whole group to participate or a discussion.
3:50 p.m. Hand Washing and Snack Time.
4:00-6:00 p.m. Free play time. All the areas of the school are open. Once a week there is a science activity. Parents pick up children between 4:00-6:00 p.m.
5:00-6:00 p.m. The last hour of the day. Teachers often read stories and play games with the children who stay late.

Creative Arts specialists give on-going workshops each week in various disciplines. Community presenters offer talks and discussions on topics interesting to children. This schedule is a general outline and changes somewhat from day to day depending on the needs of the children and on field trips."

Extracted from the Buen Dia Family School Web-Site

Home-School Connection

Parents Say They are Encouraged to:

  • Sit on the board of trustees
  • Hold social events at the school to build community
  • Fundraise
  • 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
  • Voice Mail
  • Email
  • Special Meetings
  • Two or More Regular Conferences
  • Drop-Off
  • Pick-Up
  • Regular newsletter/printed updates circulated to the whole school