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Haight-Ashbury Cooperative Nursery School

1180 Stanyan Street
San Francisco, CA 94117

(415) 661-9204

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Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based

From the Director:

We do have some structure in the day - it's mandatory for all children to come in at snack time and lunch time and we have a brief focus activity before the children eat (sing a song, learn sign language, go over safety rules, etc). We have a more focused time after snack where we tell news, sing songs, listen to stories, but the children are not required to attend.

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
  • Small motor table toys
Oral language  
Nursery rhymes, poems, songs  
Storybook reading  
Emerging literacy skills  
Cognitive development
Math & number sense more

More Information

  • Puzzles
  • Blocks of various kinds, small motor table toys
Time & space more

More Information

  • Calendars and clocks
  • Parquetry blocks, pegboards, and mosaic toys
  • Maps
  • Building blocks
  • Sand toys such as funnels and balance beams
Sci. reasoning/physical world more

More Information

  • A place for science activities such as growing plants
  • Pets for children to watch and care for
Music more

More Information

  • Musical instruments
  • A movement and music teacher comes in once a week to do activities with the kids.
Visual arts more

More Information

  • Materials such as paint, ink, paintbrushes, crayons, markers, chalk, paper, etc.
  • Art work on the walls
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
  • Twice a month Acrosports sets up an indoor gym and an Acrosport teacher works with the kids
Other subjects taught

From the Director:

Though the kids normally choose what they want to do at school, there are projects and activities that are set up and planned before the kids arrive so that there's always an appealing selection and variety. The environment invites exploration and participation.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

We strive to maintain a program where parents can be part of a supportive community while learning about child development and actively being co-teachers at their children's school. We validate each child as an individual and support their need to explore and discover the world in an enriched, nurturing environment. We try to provide a place where children and families thrive - a place where children begin to grow into strong, compassionate people.

A Typical Day

Put lunch away in cubby.

Scope the inside and outside area to see what you want to do. Hook up with friends - dive in!

Snack time, we wash hands and have a brief focus activity before eating.

After snack kids either come into the 'Good Morning' room for a focus time of news telling, story telling, etc., or go out to play or stay in the main room for more projects.

Continued free play until lunch when we again wash our hands, sit down with our lunch boxes, and have a brief focus activity before eating.

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

I do a curriculum workshop at the beginning of the year for all new parents to educate them about appropriate expectations for preschool children and to explain our approach to early childhood education (developmental rather than academic). I'm available every day for parents to express their concerns about their children. We have a group discussion at the beginning of our monthly general meeting where we address the kids' developmental concerns. During the year we have several guest speakers at our meetings who address specific concerns about kids. I also have parent/teacher conferences.Parents with older kids in elementary school share their experiences at various schools.

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
  • Special Meetings
  • Two or More Regular Conferences
  • Drop-Off
  • Pick-Up
  • Regular newsletter/printed updates circulated to the whole school


Separation is Handled through:

  • Parents in classroom early on

Handling Separation: From the Director

We encourage parents to stay as many mornings with their children as is required to help the kids and parents feel comfortable and safe at school. If a parent needs help separating (clingy child), I or a working parent the child is comfortable with will hold the child and try to engage the child in a fun activity (an activity the child enjoys). Separation objects from home are sometimes helpful. If a child is inconsolable, the parent is notified.