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C5 Children's School

455 Golden Gate Avenue, Suite 2400
San Francisco, CA 94102

(415) 703-1277


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Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Reggio-Emilia

From the Director:

Our program emphasizes building strong interpersonal relationships, and we consider all children from birth to be competent, creative, and powerful beings. They are already powerful learners, and they are constantly making meaning out of their environment as their bodies grow and develop. Our methods result in comprehensive caring and nurturing for each child and in optimal learning that is appropriate for each child's age and developmental levels. Our teaching strategies rely primarily on an emergent curriculum. It is based on and reinforces each child exploring and expressing their emerging inclinations, fascinations, interests, and enthusiasms and relies on a rich materials environment, varied groupings of children, and professional facilitation to accomplish the desired development and learning.

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
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
Music more

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  • Musical instruments
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
  • 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 An amazing array of subjects, processes, concepts, developmental issues, and attitudes are acquired by children during the collaborative exploration and expression that occurs in our program.

From the Director:

C5 is primarily an Reggio Emilia-inspired emergent curriculum based on each child's interests and fascinations that are the vehicles for learning in a project based environment. If one or more individual children require structured assistance or work and learn best with more autonomy, they each get what works best for them.

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

In addition to helping children individually build skills in being a very effective group member, we assess each child's learning style and facilitate, coach, and instruct where necessary to guide them to optimal learning and covering all of the skills, knowledge areas, and attitudes that they will need in going on to the next level in school and for later in life.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

Our mission is to facilitate young children's optimal development and learning in a safe, supportive, and enriched environment.

Our primary goal is to provide and continuously improve child development and education services of the highest quality in a climate of care and respect for children and their families. We offer a program that places an emphasis on developing strong relationships between children, staff members, parents, and families.

Our teachers facilitate individual and group development by providing stimulating learning experiences and environments that foster physical growth, emotional well-being, social relationships, creativity, and intellectual development.

The daily activities are guided by professional teachers and are carefully coordinated to be appropriate for each child's age and developmental levels.

The infants and toddlers receive concentrated nurturing and care combined with daily attention to individual and small group activities that focus on sensory, physical, emotional, social, and cognitive development.

The older toddlers and preschool children experience a blend of arts, crafts, dance, music, storytelling, dramatic play, language development, math, science, photography, and exploring the city environment and Nature.

Sensitivities, skills, insights, and knowledge are built from children's marvelous ability to continually pursue their individual interests and to creatively explore and express themselves. Both centers are equipped with a wide variety of learning materials and play equipment that support all areas of your child's development.

We invite all children, parents, and staff to apply, regardless of their gender, race, color, religion, creed, sexual orientation, nationality, or ethnic origin.

We give priority to California State Employees to enroll children 18 months to 5.9 years old at the Preschool located in the Hiram Johnson State Building, 455 Golden Gate Avenue.

Priority is given San Francisco Public Utilities Commission employees first, and second to City employees for infants 6 weeks to 2 years old and preschool children 2 years to 5.9 years old at the SFPUC facility, 525 Golden Gate Avenue.

A Typical Day

It is a mixture of enthusiastic and focused exploration of the children's fascinations.

A typical Flow of the Day will include
- Individual Exploration and Study
- Morning News & Planning
- Snack
- Debrief the morning and prepare for transition outside
- Lunch
- Rest/Nap
- Outdoor Exercise, Explore, and Express
- Transition
- Meet, Sing, and Books
- Snack
- Open Play
- Continue Projects and Individual Study
-Dance and Movement
-Music Together class each week and other music experiences

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

How we communicate with parents --

We communicate with parents in many ways, some innovative and leading edge for a program of infants through pre-kindergarten-aged children. For example, we have a comprehensive, secure private Website, "Connections," with a wealth of information about the program and details about their child, such as a Home-School Journal that is a private channel for communications between the parents and their child's primary teacher; a portfolio for each child; a Daily Story with a written account and pictures of what happened that day, every day (we suggest that parents look back on the Daily Story on the Website with their child and review the day to revisit, support, and extend learning); a tentative, flexible weekly plan (remember, we have an emergent curriculum based on children's evolving interests) that includes what parents can do daily and weekly to support their child's and her or his learning group's explorations and projects. We also have set three parent conferences during the year. One is near the beginning of the year to discuss the family goals and objectives for their child, get to know the teacher and family, and to learn how the classroom and curriculum will work. The next one is mid-year to discuss progress. The last one is in late spring to discuss progress and planning for future learning and development focus. Parents discuss issues and view children's work at drop-off and pick-up and can have a parent-teacher conference any time, formally or informally. There are potlucks during the year, a three-week Festival of Learning in the spring with all learning groups exhibiting work, demonstrations of children working in public with their teachers, and a gala evening celebration. There is a costume week in July where families make costumes and props based on their child's interest and all family members come in costume to the potluck. There are Visiting Artists from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. C5 has a weekly dance and movement program similar in philosophy and structure to our weekly Music Together program.

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
  • 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
  • Small group sessions
  • Parents in classroom early on
  • Abbreviated schedule at start of school year

Handling Separation: From the Director

We get to know all of the children and families very well, hold individual family and classroom level orientation meetings at the beginning of the school year and give extraordinary and thorough attention to helping each child and family to be accepted, understood, appreciated, and included in the program in ways that are meaningful to them. We have pictures of each child on their cubby and a picture of each family in the classroom. Comfort items can be brought to school and also used at nap time. The Summer Book & Box presentations are also at the beginning of the year, where parents bring in what happened over the summer and share it with their child's learning group. The books and boxes remain in the classroom and are a comfort and source of further explorations and projects.