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Stretch the Imagination

2509 Bush Street
San Francisco, CA 94115

(415) 922-0104


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Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based, Reggio-Emilia

From the Director:

We are an early childhood environment that believes in the importance of play and the necessity for hands-on learning experiences. Our curriculum is designed to follow the interests of the child and is executed in a project based approach. We take inspiration from the fact that children learn in a context of relationships with those around them including both the adults and peers they interact with. We honor that preschool is a magical time in a child's life that should be filled with wonder and exploration.

Curriculum & Teaching Approach

Learning Philosophy & Tools

  Play- based mostly teacher led not formally in curriculum conducive environment
Language       more

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  • 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
  • Maps
  • Building blocks
Sci. reasoning/physical world more

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

From the Director:

Our image of the child is one of capability, potential, and competency. We strive to create learning opportunities where children and teachers can come together to explore, communicate, and express themselves. These experiences are based on the children’s interests and needs and their interaction with the world around them.

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

Our educators teach to the individual child and meet each child where they are developmentally. Our class sizes are small and the project based approach allows for children to enter into the learning at their own pace and where they are developmentally. These experiences and interactions with their peers and teachers inform, challenge and encourage the curiosities of the child.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

Our educators at Stretch the Imagination take inspiration from the understanding that children are very capable and competent learners. We believe that children learn within the context of relationships, both with the adults and the peers they engage with. We offer hands-on explorations that support a child's innate ability to question, interact with, and experience the world around them. We believe in the importance of play and the magic of early childhood. We incorporate the arts, music and movement into our explorations with intention as we understand their developmental benefits. We understand that we are facilitators and guides in a child's educational experiences. We have much to learn with the children and we honor that this learning experience is reciprocal. We believe that it is not only what a child learns, but how a child learns that gives quality to the educational experience.

A Typical Day

Children are dropped off in the morning or afternoon based on their age. Once at school the classes follow a flow or rhythm to the day based on the project work and the children's interests. There are however consistent elements to our days together such as, but not limited to, those listed below:

Children start their day with a community meeting where they reflect on past experiences, learn about their choices or explorations for the day to come, say hello to their friends, etc.

Classes then divide into smaller groups to explore classroom materials or engage in project work.

The children and educators comes together again to eat snack as a community.

They often divide again for more small group work, free choice play, and project work.

Classes end the day together as a community.

Once a week classes also meet with our music specialist for a 30 minutes music class. Music, singing and instruments are also incorporated throughout the day for small group explorations, transitions, and community meetings.

Children play outside each day for at least 30 minutes.

Art is a large part of our program and is woven into the curriculum throughout the day and throughout the project work. Art is used as a tool to represent and explore children's thoughts, questions and curiosities.

The Natural Classroom: All children who are at least 3 years old participate in our Natural Classroom program. Drop off and pick up take place at our natural classroom location. All 5 day programs meeting once a week in nature and all 3 day programs meet in nature every other week. Our SF school explores the Presidio and our Marin school explores the Audubon Sanctuary in Tiburon.

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

The home-school connection is one that is very important to our work with families and children. This connection and relationship is fostered in many ways. We welcome but are not limited to those listed below.

We invite parents and children to visit the school with their class before the school year starts. Teachers send cards home welcoming the children. We also ask that families fill out pages that tell us about their context and culture and give us a window into their family. These pages are usually accompanied by pictures.

We are a school that values documentation which we send home and collect in many ways. We send home multiple emails/week and bi-weekly "reflections" or journals.

Parents are encourage to participate and are invited into the classroom when they are able to join in the experiences of their children. We are not a co-op but do welcome parent participation.

Parents Say They are Encouraged to:

  • 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

Handling Separation: From the Director

We handle each child's separation anxiety in an individual way so as to meet the needs of each child. We hope to alleviate separation by sending home a letter to each child from their teacher to welcome them to school. We have visit days before school starts and parents are welcome to join the class for some time as needed in the beginning of their child's experience. We welcome transitional objects that ease a child's integration into this new environment. Once a child enters our school we work individually with each family to offer the separation support that they need. We offer summer camp which children can attend before starting the school year to help them acclimate to their new school setting.