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Children's Campus at San Francisco State University

1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132

(415) 405-4011


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Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based

From the Director:

For preschool children, daily activities are planned around units of study that are interesting and meaningful to young children. A balanced schedule provides experiences in group and individual settings. Stories, music, language experiences and discussion of unit studies take place in groups. Individually, children choose learning center activities in which they can work and play alone, in pairs, or in small groups. Classrooms are arranged in interest areas which include areas for books, blocks, art, puzzles and manipulatives, science, and dramatic play. Children have the opportunity to work and play in these centers by choice. The centers contain educational toys, materials, and games. They are used individually, with a friend or in small groups. The centers provide practice in making decisions, following directions, working independently, and learning the care and use of materials. Daily group times provide the opportunity for children to learn in a large group setting. Group lessons include stories, music, gross motor activities, language experiences and discussion of the current unit of study. Additional activities include cooking, growing plants, nature walks, field trips, and having visitors come to the center to share information about the unit studies.

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

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  • A place for science activities such as growing plants
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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  • 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 The Children's Campus utilizes a curriculum model that is play-based and emergent. In this type of curriculum, children construct their knowledge by having hands-on experiences within a safe, supportive and nurturing environment. Children are given choices and are encouraged to strengthen their understanding of the world through a variety of natural materials and activities. The curriculum emerges with the children's growing interests and skill levels as the year progresses. Activities and materials are chosen by teachers to reflect the children's interests and to meet specific developmental goals. These goals are created based on the California Learning and Development Foundations (see links below) along with the teachers' knowledge of child development and the individual needs of the children and families in their classroom. Close observation and teacher reflection informs the planning of curriculum in order to create engaging, interesting, and challenging experiences for the children throughout the year. Most of all, children are supported in developing strong social-emotional skills, respect for self, each other and their community.

From the Director:

We believe children develop optimally within a community of trusting relationships in an authentic nurturing environment. Respecting that the family is the first teacher, our collaboration with the child and their family is essential. Integral to our philosophy is recognizing that children are competent learners who develop socially, emotionally, physically, creatively, and cognitively in an integrated fashion. Children have an innate curiosity and as active learners they construct their understanding of the world through their social interactions with peers, adults, and materials.

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

The teachers work with each child to determine how they best learn. Based on observation the head teacher's role is to determine appropriate curriculum for the class as a whole as well as the individual. Children will be challenged based on their abilities and interests.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

The Children's Campus mission is to:

Provide Faculty and Staff of SFSU w/ a program of high quality early care and education with a foundation in evidence-based practice for infants, toddlers and preschool children; Maintain a high quality accredited program whose teachers engage in best practice;
Support and training for pre-service early childhood education students;
Expand research opportunities that add to the field of knowledge in early care and education;
Support current early care and education teachers with professional development opportunities that support improved practice;
Welcome all families including married, single, adoptive, foster, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families

A Typical Day

(times are approximate)
7:30 - 9:15 Free Play/Drop Off
9:15 Circle Time
9:45 Free Play - Learning Centers
10:45 Clean Up
11:00 - 12:00 Outside Play
12:00 Lunch
12:30 - 2:30 Nap/Rest
2:30 - 3:30 Free Play - Learning Centers
3:30 Afternoon Circle
3:45 - 4:30 Outside Play
4:30 - 5:30 Indoor Choice/Pick-up

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

Parents attend a parent orientation before enrolling their child to learn about the center's policies, procedures and philosophies. Home visits are scheduled before the fall semester begins. This gives the head teacher an opportunity to meet the family in their enviornment, to start building their relationship.
Monthly parent meetings are held in the community room. Two parents serve on the advisory committee for the center.
Parents are given two opportunities a year to meet with the head teacher for a parent conference. Each classroom and the center provides a monthly electronic newsletter.
Parents are connected to community resources in order to best meet the needs of their family. Some services are offerred on site (speech/language assessment) and others are referrals to outside community agencies.

Parents Say They are Encouraged to:

  • Sit on the board of trustees
  • Hold social events at the school to build community
  • Are able to visit the school anytime we want
  • 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
  • Parents in classroom early on

Handling Separation: From the Director

We work with each family to help them develop a plan for this separation. This varies but typically the parent attends the first day of school with their child, then each day afterwards starts to leave the child for longer and longer. By the 3rd week of school most of our children are attending their regular schedule.
Parents are encouraged to bring a "transitional item" for their child which reminds them of home and may help them in the transition. Photos of families are hung on the walls so the children can see their family at all times.
We work with each individual familiy and support them as they go through this difficult time.