Back to San Francisco Preschools

The Scandinavian School

20 Woodside Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94127

(415) 665-3276


3 parents took the survey TAKE THE SURVEY

Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

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

From the Director:

The school follows the Scandinavian preschool curriculums. Our work is also inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach.

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
  • A variety of art supplies in our art studio
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
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

  • 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
  • Pillow room with large soft building blocks
Other subjects taught The Scandinavian School also offers afternoon language programs for preschool and school (K-12) children. In addition, the school organizes scandinavian language playgroups, as well as adult education courses. Extracted from The Scandinavian School Web-Site

From the Director:

The school follows the Scandinavian preschool curriculums. Our work is also inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach. About the Reggio Emilia philosophy This is a short description of the Reggio Emilia philosophy In Reggio Emilia they don't lock their view on children, the pedagogue or the learning process. The world and its people are always changing and that's why they are against set programs and methods. You can work Reggio Emilia-inspired. You cannot copy the way they work in Italy because you have to consider the people, the environment and culture. In Reggio Emilia they have a coined expression: 'A child has a hundred languages'. They try to unite and develop all these languages; innovation, construction, fantasy, art, music, dance, building, writing, talking, signing, science, body and soul. The multiple languages are used to help children build knowledge and understand the world around them. The natural environment is incorporated as much as possible. The child Children are little researchers; they can and want to communicate with the surrounding world. They are individuals with own thoughts, emotions and expressions. They believe in a 'listening pedagogy'. In Reggio Emilia they believe children have an enormous potential and curiosity. Children strive to understand the world, making their own theories to explain how it functions. Children's knowledge needs to be brought out using their natural curiosity and not filled in. I Reggio Emilia they believe that each person constructs their own intelligence from direct interaction with the environment and in social groups. In Reggio schools, time is not set by the clock, but by the child's needs and interests. Monday doesn't mean paint day and everybody don't go to the bathroom at the same time. There should be sufficient time for a child to express, learn, explore, extend and revisit a given project. The quote below by Malaguzzi who was a former teacher in Reggio sums up how the Italians using this approach view education with children: 'Each child is unique and the protagonist of his or her own growth. Children desire to acquire knowledge, have much capacity for curiosity and amazement, and yearn to create relationships with others and communicate. ' The teacher The teacher is trying to learn about each child, not just what is typical of 3- or 4-year-olds. The teacher in Reggio Emilia is the researcher, the data gatherer, the learner, and the strategic contributor to the child's capacity to learn. The responsibility is on the community of teachers to provide the contexts for learning. 'The child is worthy of being listened to.' 'Listen, observe, interact, and learn from the child.' 'Do not place the child in adult-designed or arbitrary time slots of adult management systems.' 'If the child is misbehaving, find out why, find out what the child is trying to communicate, find out how you can help the child.' 'Your job as an adult is to help the child communicate his feelings and guide the child toward a positive resolution of the problem. The teacher's role within the Reggio Emilia approach is complex. Working as co-teachers, the role of the teacher is first and foremost to be that of a learner alongside the children. The teacher is a teacher-researcher, a resource and guide as she/he lends expertise to. Within such a teacher-researcher role, educators carefully listen, observe, and document children's work and the growth of community in their classroom and are to provoke, co-construct, and stimulate thinking, and children's collaboration with peers. Teachers are committed to reflection about their own teaching and learning. Documentation Documentation is central in the Reggio Emilia approach. Documentation communicates the life of the center to others visiting the center. It also provides opportunities for children to revisit the experience. Documentation is a process that involves observation, reflection, collaboration, interpretation, analysis, and is made a part of the classroom. Multiple forms of documentation: photographs, audiotape transcripts, videotapes, note taking and the actual product of a child's work create a multi sensory'memory' of an activity. Posting the documentation in the preschool encourages students to learn from one another and to appreciate the process of creating. Curriculum Instead of following a set agenda, the Reggio Emilia approach encourages teachers to let a child's interests guide the curricula. Teachers are trained to recognize a child's interests and create on-going projects that stimulate a child's curiosity. The environment, the room Within the Reggio Emilia schools, great attention is given to the look and feel of the classroom. Environment is considered the 'third teacher.' Long hallways are meant for running, doors are meant to be opened and closed and stairs are meant to be climbed in. Teachers carefully organize space for small and large group projects and small intimate spaces for one, two or three children. Documentation of children's work, plants, and collections that children have made from former outings are displayed both at the children's and adult eye level. Common space available to all children in the school includes dramatic play areas and worktables for children from different classrooms to come together. A welcoming environment encourages a child to engage in activity and discovery. Wall-sized windows, mirrors placed on floors, walls and ceilings establish a space filled with opportunity. The Reggio Emilia approach integrates nature into the curriculum so that the child learns to appreciate the physical and structural environment. The architecture is designed to encourage playful encounters for the preschool students. Extracted from The Scandinavian School Web-Site

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

The teachers work with children who have special needs.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

The Scandinavian School in San Francisco is a non-profit organization founded to instruct children in Scandinavian languages, traditions, and cultures. During a child's early years there is a greater awareness of the world around them than at any other time in their life. This is the time when they begin to explore and experience their environment and they are very receptive to learning new languages. At the Scandinavian School, we provide a setting where the children will actively participate in different appropriate activities that will help them learn and/or practice a new language and expose them to different cultures and traditions. Children are little researchers; they can and want to communicate with the surrounding world. We at the Scandinavian School believe that children have a right to have friends of the same age group, a stimulating pedagogic environment, and access to teachers who can see them as individuals with own thoughts, emotions and expressions. We believe in a 'listening pedagogy'. The curriculum at The Scandinavian School is based on play, socialization, and skill development according to the natural developmental patterns of preschool-age children. Children learn through play, so it is important that it is fun and meaningful, and that they are motivated. The activities the children will participate in at the Scandinavian School will challenge their curiosity, their desire to create, and their joy of discovery. Therefore, the children will work with materials that make them think and create rather than material that is already prepared for them. We believe in using a lot of recycled material that encourages the children to be creative without being wasteful or increasing costs for the school. Examples include toilet rolls, ice-cream sticks, and yogurt cups that the children can help to collect and bring from home. We also believe that you can gain insight into a child's way of thinking and way of expression through the things he or she creates and through documentation. These things help the child make his/her own learning process visible, and reflect over how and what he/she learned.

A Typical Day

Our core program is offered between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., giving the children a full day to do things at their own pace. Routines create security, which promotes learning. The daily schedule is as follows:
Extended morning care
Welcome all children
Circle time
Everybody gathers and sings, talks, plays games etc
Planned activity within our current topic
Free play--Learn through play
Lunch--We serve a family style, hot lunch
Nap time--All children rest, some sleep, some read a book
Free play--More fun activities
Snack--Fruit and some other light snack Pick-up--Some children leave for the day Extended care, and some stay a bit longer Afternoon language classes
Time for more singing, playing and other activities
New children may arrive to attend these classes
We play outdoors every day, rain or shine. Spending a lot of time playing outside OR Spending a lot of time outdoors is a strong Scandinavian tradition.
The Scandinavian School daycare and preschool is a place where children can be children. They experience Scandinavian culture and traditions, learn the languages, meet old friends and make new ones, and have a lot of fun.

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

We hold parent-teacher meetings, parent education classes, connection to services/activities in the community, community building activities, yard days, school picnics etc.

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:

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

Handling Separation: From the Director

Children need time to get adjusted to new environments and people. We ask that each parent spend at least the first week with his/her child in the classroom to help the child get acclimatized to the teacher and the other children at the school.