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Nihonmachi Little Friends

2031 Bush Street
San Francisco, CA 94115

(415) 922-8898


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Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based

From the Director:

"Multicultural Curriculum We take pride in our diverse, multicultural curriculum which emphasizes the Japanese language and culture while integrating a wide range of developmentally appropriate activities. In an environment conducive to learning, our program develops children in all areas fostering self-esteem, cooperation and confidence. See how our curriculum is implemented into lesson plans. Sample Curriculum: January Japanese Lessons: Hagoita (Paddle and Birdie) Tako (Kite) Fukuwarai (Funny Face Game) Temari (Paper Ball) Kagami Mochi (Rice Cakes) Koma (Top) General Lesson: Native American Culture 'Save Our Earth' Conservation and Recycling Chinese New Year and Chinese Culture Pre-Kindergarten Topic: Hibernation February Japanese Lessons: Setsubun (Oni Mask) Tomodachi Ningyo (Friendship Dolls) Origami General Lessons: Nutrition Education Friendships and Valentine's Day African American Culture March Japanese Lessons: Hinamatsuri (Doll Festival) Momo (Peach Flower) Sakura (Cherry Blossom) General Lessons: Plants and Insects Wild Animals, Jungle and Forest Farm Animals Pre-Kindergarten Topic: Simple Math April Japanese Lessons: Sakura Matsuri (Hat) Anesama Ningyo (Big Sister Doll) Haru (Spring) General Lessons: Child Assessment for Progress Reports Mexican and Latin American Culture May Japanese Lessons: Kodomo No Hi (Children's Day - Make a Carp) Kabuto (Hat) Ha Ha No Hi (Mother's Day) Ayame (Iris) Umi (Ocean and Ocean Life) Gyotaku (Fish Print) General Lessons: Mother's Day or Someone I Love Day Ocean Life Working People Pre-Kindergarten Topic: Home Address June Japanese Lessons: Mushiba No Hi (Fight Cavities Day) Toki No Kinen Bi (Be Aware of Time Day) Chi Chi No Hi (Father's Day) Ajisai (Hydrangea) Kami Zumo (Paper Wrestlers) General Lessons: Father's Day or Someone I Love Day Filipino and South East Asian Cultures Pre-Kindergarten Topic: Telling time July Japanese Lessons: Tanabata (Wish Making) Furin (Wind Chimes) Uchiwa (Fan) General Lessons: Solar Systems and Planets Amphibians, Reptiles and Dinosaurs Musical Instruments August Japanese Lessons: Genbaku (Atomic Bombing of Japan - Make Tsuru/Cranes) Obon Dance Suika Wari (Watermelon Game) General Lessons: Skills Assessment Exercise, Fitness and Nutritional Education Reinforcement of Group Names Transitions September Japanese Lessons: Otsukimi (Moon Viewing) Tsuki (Moon) Usagi (Rabbit) Keiro No Hi (Respect Senior Citizen's Day) General Lessons: Body and self awareness Five Senses: Sight, Touch, Taste, Hearing, Smell Health and Safety Pre-Kindergarten Topic: Internal Body Parts and Skeleton October Japanese Lessons: Ochi Ba (Autumn Leaves) Iro and Katachi (Colors and Shapes) Batta (Grasshopper) Tombo (Dragonfly) General Lessons: Child Assessment for Progress Reports Colors and Shapes Classification and Sequencing Pre-Kindergarten Topic: Chronological Order November Japanese Lessons: Bunka No Hi (Make a Medallion) Shichi-Go-San (Ages Three, Seven and Five are Celebrated) Kiku (Chrysanthemum) Wanuki (Circle on a Stick Game) General Lessons: Korean Culture Community Service and Awareness December Japanese Lessons: Yuki Daruma (Snowman) Yuki No Kessho (Snowflake) Yajiro (Balancing Toy) General Lessons: Families and Sharing Transportation: Air, Water and Land" Extracted from preschool's website

Curriculum & Teaching Approach

Learning Philosophy & Tools

  Play- based mostly teacher led not formally in curriculum conducive environment
Oral language  
Nursery rhymes, poems, songs  
Storybook reading  
Emerging literacy skills  
Cognitive development
Math & number sense
Time & space
Sci. reasoning/physical world
Visual arts
Physical activity
Other subjects taught How are Japanese bilingual and English learning groups different? In our preschool program, the English learning group is taught only in English and is usually recommended for children whose primary language is not Japanese or English. The Japanese bilingual group is taught mainly in Japanese with limited English translation as needed. Small learning groups are just a small portion of the day and all children do hear the Japanese language throughout the day, especially during music time. *Extracted from preschool's website

From the Director:

"Preschool Child Development Goals Social and Emotional Development To be able to interact and communicate verbally with both children and adults. To feel a positive sense of self. To be able to respect other's property, differences and choices. To be able to accept failure and try again. To be able to follow rules in group games. To be able to share with other children, work cooperatively and take turns. To be able to show understanding of feelings by verbalizing anger, sadness, happiness. To be able to learn self-help skills, i.e. putting on own shoes and clothing, clean up materials after use. To be able to work independently, make self-directed decisions and initiate activities on his/her own. To be able to develop relationships outside of family unit. To be able to complete age appropriate activity. To be able to feel confident enough to ask for help from peers and/or teachers Cognitive Development To learn how to problem solve, develop problem-solving skills. To create activities which develop imagination. To develop understanding of spatial relationships - under, over, around, etc. To be able to classify, sort, match and identify objects. To acquire knowledge of the environment and self. To understand the concept of opposites. To be able to identify and name the 26 letters of the alphabet. To be able to identify an object in a group as same or different. To be able to recognize and print own name. Physical Development To be able to perform large motor skills: creeping, crawling, running, walking, jumping, hopping, skipping, balancing, etc. To be able to change direction: forward, backward, side to side, etc. To be able to move the whole body to wiggle, squirm, twirl, spin, sway, do a somersault, etc. To be able to master ball skills: throw, catch, roll, kick, bounce. To be able to master fine motor skills: eye/hand coordination, string beads, copy circle, cut with scissors, tie shoes, use a pencil and crayon, etc. To be able to participate in cooperative group play/games. To be able to cross the lateral bars hand over hand. Oral Language Development Promote the development of language so that child can speak more and complex phrases and finally full sentences. Promote language opportunity for the child with adult as role model. Promote language which expresses thoughts and ideas. Promote language with a variety of activities, i.e. storytelling, finger plays, poems, rhymes, role-play, dramatic play and songs. Promote development of child's native language to promote positive self-esteem. To be able to learn age-appropriate vocabulary. Math Skills To be able to identify basic shapes: triangle, circle, square, rectangle, diamond, oval. To be able to sort by shape, color, size, weight. To be able to compare and describe size-long/short, big/small, etc. To be able to reproduce a pattern using objects. To be able to count from 1-20. To be able to recognize numerals 1-10 and put them in order. To be able to count 5-10 objects and answer how many. To be able to develop one to one correspondence. To be able to develop math vocabulary, e.g. simple fractions such as a quarter or half instead of big or little. To be able to understand measuring concepts. To be able to understand combinations of numbers and/or simple addition and subtraction concepts using pictures or objects. Science Skills To learn about ecology and the environment, i.e. weather, plants, animals, insects, gardening, conservation, etc. To develop use and awareness of their five senses. To learn how to explore through the use of the senses and other instruments such as the microscope, scales. To foster curiosity and inquiry. To learn about various properties of things around us, i.e. magnetic properties, liquid, solids, gases, temperature. To learn measuring, lengths, weight, distance and time concepts. To develop observation, prediction and cause and effect skills. Music Skills To be able to sing songs with melody, tone and rhythm. To develop verbal and auditory discrimination skills. To learn motor control through dance and movement with music. To develop use of his/her imagination through free expression in moving to music. To learn about different cultures, music, including one's own. To be able to play or play to a steady beat on an instrument such as the drum, rhythm sticks, recorder. To learn about different kinds of instruments, e.g. brass, string, winds, etc. Art Skills To use art as a means of self-expression, development of imagination and fostering creativity. To use art activities to develop fine motor control. To use art activities as a sensorial experience. To use art activities to develop cultural awareness. To be able to produce art work with a goal in mind. To expose children to a wide variety of colors and to develop appreciation for other colors besides the primary colors. To expose children to different art mediums such as finger painting, watercolor, different size and texture paint brushes, etc. Safety Skills Provide activities which promote a safe environment. Encourage children to learn about, participate in and create safety rules. Provide activities which promote safety awareness for fire, earthquake, crossing the street, talking to strangers and sexual abuse. Health Skills To encourage good health habits such as washing hands before eating, covering mouth when coughing, how to blow nose, etc. To encourage good nutrition and eating habits through cooking activities, discussions, art projects and meal times. To teach children about general hygiene: bathing, brushing teeth, sharing personal items, toileting skills, etc. To teach children and parents about proper clothing for weather conditions. To teach children the importance of rest and what their body needs to grow. Japanese Language Skills To be able to recognize and say the Japanese words for the basic colors, shapes, animals, parts of the body, family members, foods and different types of workers. To be able to count from 1-20 in Japanese. To be able to recognize and write their name in Japanese. To be able to use daily proper greetings, i.e. good morning, thank you, good-bye. To be able to recognize the Japanese alphabet. Multicultural Awareness To develop a positive self-image and pride in their cultural heritage. To develop an understanding and appreciation of other ethnic/cultural groups." Extracted from the preschool's website

Day in the Life

General School Mission

"NLF Preschool Programs provide childcare services for children aged 2 1/2 to 5 years old. We provide a flexible schedule designed to accommodate the needs of families (full-day, half-day or three days per week).

Japanese bilingual/multicultural activities are incorporated throughout the daily schedule, and are presented through music, stories, arts and crafts and celebration of traditional events and holidays.

We have two preschool childcare programs, the Bush Preschool program and Sutter Preschool program. When children graduate from our preschool programs, they are well prepared to meet the challenges of primary school education.

Subsidized childcare is available to accommodate families of low to moderate income as well as private fee services

Program Features:

Developmentally appropriate experiential and hands-on teaching
Techniques to support each child's learning style
A curriculum that cultivates the child's social, cognitive, physical, emotional and linguistic development
Integration of Japanese language, culture and community in academic disciplines
Hot meals and nutritious snacks
Weekly field trips
Mental health consultation services for children, parents and staff
Interaction with seniors from various centers and agencies in the community." *Extracted from the preschool's website

A Typical Day

A Day in the NLF Preschool Program

7:30am Center opens, quiet classroom activities
8:20am Breakfast together
8:45am Quiet indoor activities continue 9:00am Morning activity/computer time
9:30am Indoor/outdoor activities (free flow)
10:30am Morning Snack
10:45am Music time and group talk 11:00am Small group activities - children divided into learning groups based upon age and ability
12:30pm Lunch
1:15pm Storytime
1:30pm Nap time
3:30pm Afternoon snack
3:45pm Music and group meeting time 4:00pm Choice of indoor/outdoor activities
5:00pm Quiet indoor activities
5:30pm Center closes
*Extracted from the preschool's website

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 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