Back to San Francisco Preschools

Presidio Knolls School

250 Tenth Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

(415) 202-0770


52 parents took the survey TAKE THE SURVEY

Progressive Mandarin Immersion PreK-8th Independent School

Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Reggio-Emilia

From the Director:

Presidio Knolls is a progressive Mandarin immersion preschool-8th grade program. Children learn best when they are having fun doing something in which they are truly interested. At Presidio Knolls School, we believe children are the driving force behind what they learn. Our Mandarin immersion, Reggio Emilia-inspired approach allows children to explore through play, and to learn through every experience. Children learn math through music, acquire language through art, and solve problems together in the playground and during snack time. Our teachers guide the children in identifying their interests and pursuing projects that help them gain a new and exciting understanding of the world. The teachers also focus on each child’s individual progress as their build their language, academic, social and emotional skills. To further enrich our children’s learning and prepare them for our globalizing world, we do all this in a Mandarin immersion environment. Young children don’t “learn” a language by being taught language lessons. They acquire language by being surrounded by it. In the process, they also absorb the culture that is the foundation of the language. Our goals are to: 1) Create a joyful and loving environment 2) Encourage children to explore and learn on their own 3) Foster their natural curiosity 4) Develop their proficiency in Mandarin

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

More Information

  • Puzzles
Time & space more

More Information

  • Calendars and clocks
  • Parquetry blocks, pegboards, and mosaic toys
  • Maps
  • Building blocks
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
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

  • 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 Presidio Knolls School offers an after-school enrichment program with a variety of classes open to both enrolled preschool and elementary students as well as to elementary children in the community.

From the Director:

At the heart of the Reggio philosophy is the belief that children are full of curiosity and creativity, rather than empty vessels waiting to be filled with facts and figures. The Reggio-inspired curriculum is flexible and emerges from children's ideas, thoughts and observations. The Reggio goal is to cultivate within children a lifelong passion for learning and exploration. At Presidio Knolls School, the pillars of our early childhood program include: 1) An image of the child as a strong, capable protagonist in his or her own learning. We see each child as competent and full of potential. We try to understand and bring out their viewpoint and abilities. 2) The centrality of expressive arts in learning. We give children the opportunity to look at and experience their world in many different ways, and encourage them to use all their senses. We value their capacity to communicate through languages such as music, painting, drawing, art, clay, collage, imaginative play, movement, dance, friendship, poetry and song-writing. 3) Education as the continuous interaction, exchange and collaboration between teachers, children and parents. Children and teachers are encouraged to dialogue, critique, compare, negotiate, hypothesize and problem-solve in groups. Multiple perspectives promote a sense of belonging to a group as well as the uniqueness of self. 4) An emergent curriculum that builds upon the interests of children. Topics for study emerge from the talk of children, through community or family events, as well as the known interests of children. Teachers work together with the children to formulate the possible directions of a project and materials needed, the ways in which the group will research the topic, and the representational media that will be used to represent the work. Projects may last a few weeks or can continue throughout the school year.

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

Our entire team is passionate about fostering our children's development, delivering academic excellence, and creating a supportive environment for the entire Presidio Knolls School community.


Preschool: 16 teachers and 3 assistant teachers. 50% of teachers have Master's degrees.

Elementary School: 8 elementary teachers in 2013 (Kindergarten and 1st grade). 75% have Master's degrees.

All teachers are fluent in Mandarin Chinese and proficient, if not fluent, in English. In elementary school the English teacher is a native English speaker.

Teachers benefit from significant ongoing teacher training, development and personalized coaching

Our teachers work closely with families to develop the most effective plan possible to support individual students in achieving their goals.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

Presidio Knolls School is a progressive Mandarin immersion school. Our mission is to educate and inspire our students to become creative, confident and engaged global citizens.

Guiding Principles:

1. Progressive student-centered education

Our students engage in a collaborative, hands-on and joyful learning environment that fosters curiosity, reflection and resilience. Students will master challenging material, solve authentic problems and develop critical thinking, technological literacy and communication skills.

2. Academic excellence

High academic achievement and a lifelong passion for learning are essential foundations for preparing students to succeed in high school, college and beyond.

3. Exceptional teachers

Our extraordinary teaching staff nurture students’ individual progress and cultivate a thriving classroom dynamic; faculty participate in robust ongoing professional development to maintain the highest teaching standards.

4. Comprehensive Mandarin immersion

Our students develop into highly proficient bilingual communicators with an appreciation for Chinese culture.

5. Passionate and diverse school community

Our vibrant and engaged parent community fosters a uniquely rich and supportive environment for students, teachers and staff.

6. Continuous improvement

We will continue to design and deliver a relevant and world-class educational experience that incorporates new research-based improvements and best practices.

A Typical Day

Learning has the most meaning for a child when lessons make sense from their point of view. Our daily schedule reflects this concept, in that we dedicate significant amounts of time in the day for the children to choose activities that interest them. When children have a vested interest in the activities they participate in, their experience is that much more significant and memorable.

A day at Presidio Knolls roughly follows this example:
7:30-8:15 Early drop-off
8:15-9:00 Arrival, Indoor Free Choice
9:00-9:20 Meeting Time
9:20-10:20 Work Time (small group and free choice)
10:20-10:50 Toileting, Hand Washing and Snack
10:50-11:50 Outdoor Exploration and Learning
through Play/Enrichment Activities
11:50-12:00 Storytime or song time
12:00-12:40 Lunch and Cleanup
12:40-1:00 Toileting and Hand Washing
1:00-1:15 Quiet Time/Storytime/Transition to Nap
1:15-3:00 Nap/Rest Time
3:00-3:30/4:00 Toileting, Snack and Indoor Free Choice
3:30/4:00-6:00 Extended Care/Afterschool classes and
Outdoor play

In addition to our daily activities, we have weekly and monthly events, including birthday celebrations, visiting experts, and fieldtrips.

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

Presidio Knolls is committed to creating a strong home and school connection.

Family-teacher partnerships help to cultivate a positive experience for everyone. We have scheduled parent-teacher conferences twice a year to talk about development, goals, and support. We hold PTA meetings regularly. We publish a weekly newsletter which details the children's activities and conversations at school and teachers email photos of the children to parents during the day. The Preschool Director and Head of School have an open door policy so parents feel comfortable asking questions and sharing ideas.

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
  • Extra staff dedicated to handle separation
  • Parents in classroom early on
  • Abbreviated schedule at start of school year

Handling Separation: From the Director

At PKS we place great importance on the transition process for new children and families into the school. For many children, this is their first formal schooling and social experience, and the transition from parent care or individual caregiver can be a sensitive one. Our goal is to put in place strong family-school and family-family connections that will allow the children to integrate in their new community.

In order to facilitate a smooth transition and to help the new families become an integral part of the school, we have a series of welcome events and transitional activities:
- Orientation for new families
- Family Get Togethers
- Summer Camp
- Playdates at the school
- Teacher Cards
- Structured parent presence and participation in the classroom for the youngest children.
- Back to School Night

Another important transition is the move from preschool to elementary school. Presidio Knolls School will provide information about what to expect as the transition approaches.