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Saint Philip Preschool

725 Diamond Street
San Francisco, CA 94114

(415) 282-0143


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Saint Philip Preschool is a Catholic preschool located in the heart of Noe Valley. Our curriculum is centered on social/emotional skills—self-confidence and good citizenship. We plan fun, challenging activities in our large open classroom and play yard. We explore the neighborhood and celebrate the seasons and holidays of the year. We invite Parish and neighborhood families to join in building a strong community.

Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based, Teacher-Led

From the Director:

Saint Philips combines a play-based approach with a variety of structured teacher-led activities. Teachers lead songs, stories and games that provide a scaffold for developing values and self-awareness. They also design seasonal celebrations with art, music and social events. The program often has a festive atmosphere. At the same time, hour-long periods of free choice allow children to focus on self-expression and learn how to play productively, alone and together. The abundant environment invites exploration. Teachers stay closely involved with individual children and help them learn to soothe themselves, resolve their conflicts and express caring for each other. In this way we invite children to participate actively in building a safe and respectful preschool community.

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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  • 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
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 Gross motor skills--balance, agility, ball games, trikes, beginning gymnastics with Acrosports.

From the Director:

We support cognitive development by creating an attractive environment and allowing children to explore in it, alone and with our support. Our large classroom itself is full of early childhood materials that are available to the children during the first hour of the day and again at each group’s “center time”. In addition, the teachers introduce songs, special books, craft activities and other new material based on various topics. Once a conversation gets going, the children get involved in learning new information, hearing others’ opinions and getting a chance to share and try out their own ideas. It is an enjoyable process and draws the children into both learning and community.

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

As children join our program, we observe them with their parents during “warm up week” and hold an opening conference to learn about the child’s history and needs. Beginning with our fall curriculum, we support each child differently, recognizing that each one develops at a different pace and with a different learning style. We may use different words, adjust our expectations or offer extra support. At staff meetings, we share our observations and talk about what is working for individual children—so that the whole team can work together. When needed, we will check in daily about the child, make phone calls or schedule extra conferences to learn from parents and share our experiences.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

Saint Philip Preschool was founded to support Parish families and serve the Noe Valley community. Our overall goals are to encourage children’s individual creativity and exploration and to guide them in learning respect for themselves, respect for others and participation in a community of children and adults. We offer an abundant play environment and intentional teacher-led experiences. Seasonal events and holiday celebrations help children and their families to feel at home in the school and to get to know and work with each other.

A Typical Day

Morning Schedule
8:00 School Open
8:00-8:30 Arrival, Welcome, Mixed Age Group,
Free Choice with Art or Science Project
8:30-9:15 Indoor-Outdoor Choice
9:15-9:30 Three’s and Pre-K Separate for Circle Time
9:30-10:30 Threes—Snack and Outdoor Play
Pre-K—Group Project & Free Choice
10:30-11:45 Threes—Group Meeting and Free Choice
Pre-K—Snack and Outdoor Play
11:45-12:00 Closing Circle—Pick Up for AM children
12:00-1:15 Lunch and Outdoor Play for Full-Day Children
Mixed Age Group

Afternoon Schedule
12:30-1:00 Afternoon Pre-K Arrival, Welcome
1:00-1:15 Afternoon Pre-K Circle Time/Full-Day Naptime
1:15-2:00 Afternoon Pre-K Free Choice with Project
2:30-3:30 Afternoon Pre-K—Snack and Outdoor Time/
3:00-3:30 Full-Day Children—Wake-up and Snack
3:30-4:15 Afternoon Pre-K and Full-Day Children--Outside
4:15-4:30 Afternoon Pre-K and Full-Day Children—Circle
4:30 Afternoon Pre-K—Pick Up Time
Full-Day Children--Free Play
5:30 School Closed

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

We start the year with orientation for each class (2’s program, 3 year old class and Pre-K). At these meetings, the teachers share their goals and parents are free to ask questions. We hold parent conferences in September, January and on request toward the end of the year. These conferences include sharing the child’s work and talking about development and concerns. Where needed, we work with parents to co-ordinate home and school efforts to support the child. This fall (2011) we are holding parent education meetings for the Pre-K and 3 year old classes.

Seasonal events provide a space for building community and sharing time as a family. We make use of our Parish Hall, and parents help decorate and bring food to share. We hold two parent events a year and several family get-togethers. Teachers provide craft activities, but the main goal is for families, friends and neighbors to enjoy being together.

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
  • Voice Mail
  • Special Meetings
  • Two or More Regular Conferences
  • Drop-Off
  • Pick-Up


Separation is Handled through:

  • Pre-entry meetings with parents at school
  • Parents in classroom early on
  • Abbreviated schedule at start of school year

Handling Separation: From the Director

Our "Warm-Up Week" is designed with short visits to the school by children with their parents. These sessions help the child get used to the school and trust the teachers and the environment. Parents are encouraged to stay in touch with the Preschool during the first few days; both the child and the parent may need some extra reassurance. Working as a team, we figure out what will work best for each child.

Seasonal events provide a space for building community and sharing time as a family. We make use of our Parish Hall, and parents help decorate and bring food to share. We hold two parent events a year and several family get-togethers. Teachers provide craft activities, but the main goal is for families, friends and neighbors to enjoy being together.