Q&A’s

These are a few questions that we hear a lot and our initial responses.

More information is available on any issue when you contact us directly.

Question: What are all of the steps for enrolling? When do you enroll?
Answer: We have open enrollment throughout the calendar year. Whenever there is an opening, we fill it.

The steps for enrolling are:

  1. Learn a lot about our program,
  2. compare us to other programs that are top on your list
  3. choose C5 only if we are the best match for you and your child in terms of our philosophy, practices, location, affordability, and level of involvement that you want
  4. apply online to be considered for admission
  5. call us for a private interview and tour
  6. have in mind your preferred starting date
  7. if you and we agree that we are a match, secure your preferred starting date with a deposit and enrollment fee
  8. complete the enrollment packet and turn in the documents that come to C5 for your file
  9. make your first tuition payment before your start date, and
  10. start on your preferred date. There is typically a one week gradual phasing-in, a little more time at the center each day, for you and your child.

Question: What are your Hours and months of operation?
Answer: Both centers are open 10 hours a day from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.


Question: What will C5 do to help us find out if our infant has a special developmental issue?
Answer: Our staff are experienced and trained to notice a wide range of emerging developmental issues. We will be in ongoing dialogue with you about all of the regular, typical, and unusual ones. So, if special developmental issues emerge among them, we will let you know right away and help you to explore them with us and to learn about alternative resources for your family and child, if any are indicated.


Question: What are the arrangements for drop-off and pick-up at the center?
Answer: Our centers are across Polk street from each other, so we share parking accommodations that are city designated loading zones. We provide special C5 parking placards for your dash to assist you in leaving you vehicle and making convenient and efficient drop-offs and pick-ups. The San Francisco Department of Public Transportation parking officers allow for some discretion when you are parking for your child. There are two loading zone spaces immediately outside of the door to the SF City Building Center and one full block of loading zone immediately ahead of them across Redwood Alley. There are two large loading zones for the CA State Building Center. They are about 1/3 of a block long. Each one is in the center of the block, on both sides of the block bordered by Golden Gate Avenue and McAllister Avenue. The placards for each center work in all of the loading zones mentioned above.


Question: What are the security arrangements for the centers?
Answer: Our CA State Building Center is located in the Ronald M. George State Office Complex that also houses the Supreme Court of California, some District Courts, offices for some state legislators, the Administration of the Courts for the entire state, and an office for the governor of California; so, there is airport and courtroom level security screening at the entrances to the building and several California Highway Patrol officers on duty in the building. Our center there also requires individual photo ID electronic coded badges to enter. Our SF City Building Center has the San Francisco County Sheriffs on duty at the main entrance security desk and on video monitoring of all public spaces. Our center there also requires individual photo ID electronic coded badges to enter all exterior doors.


Question: How does C5 present and model their philosophy to their families?
Answer: A lot of how our program works is presented in detail on this public website. In addition, you can get more information and see some aspects of it by signing up for a tour or a private interview and tour. When you are enrolled, you can observe every day how we apply our philosophy. You will also read about it in the Parent-Family Handbook; have an orientation session before you begin the program with your child; learn much more on our comprehensive private website, Connections; attend the fall classroom parent group orientation conducted by your child’s teaching team; come to the three regular parent conferences held in the fall, winter, and spring; see documentation on the classroom and center walls; view videos; attend seminars we give; and, experience and learn first-hand by participating in our special program events, including Summer Book & Box, Fall Family Festival, Winter Cultural Highlights, Festival of Learning, and Costume Days, and by going on field trips with your child’s preschool or pre-k learning group. You can also have an ad hoc conference any time that a teacher or administrator can free up to discuss anything, including more of how our philosophy is applied in the program and to your child and family.


Question: Does C5 expect consistency between home and school or is there flexibility?
Answer: We encourage you as a parent to understand as much as possible about how we work with your child and her or his friends. However, we do not try to advise families on parenting. Many parents ask how we might approach a specific situation. In those cases, we are happy to explain how we might address it at school. We do not try to problem-solve or consult with you on what to do at home.


Question: What kind of documentation is used?
Answer: We take pictures every day in every classroom and post them in each classroom’s forum on our private website for parents and family members to view, along with a Daily Story of what happened. In each classroom, we also often take and post videos; make personal notes, some of which are available to parents; and, develop flexible weekly planning outlines that are posted on the private site. The infant classroom has a daily record for your child of bottles- eating, sleep, diapering, and general health and disposition that is available to you.


Question: What are the age breakdowns in the classrooms, and how does that effect the curriculum development and implementation?
Answer: Infants – Six weeks old to when your child will be toddling, usually at about 9-12 months. Young Toddlers – About 9 months old to 18 months old. Older Toddlers – 18 months old to about 2-2.5 years old. Preschool – 2-2.5 years old to about 4 years old. Pre-Kindergarten – About 4 years old to 5.9 years old. The philosophy and basic approach for all ages are essentially the same. However, the staff facilitation, classroom materials, tools, toys, equipment, furnishings, work spaces, and locations become more sophisticated and complex as children move with their primary teachers through the program. Our unique approach to parent participation and collaboration with parents and family members remains fairly high throughout.


Question: What curriculum is used in the infant room? How does it happen and what is the effect on children and their development?
Answer: We use the basic, comprehensive C5 philosophy that is influenced in part and augmented by best practices from around the world, including approaches from RIE, PITC, Reggio, and several others. We can provide more details in person.


Question: How do the teachers’ daily schedules work? How much time is spent with children and how much time is spent doing prep?
Answer: There is a team of at least three fully-qualified teachers in each classroom. Younger children have more teachers in the room, and there are autonomous teachers who come in to relieve the primary teachers for breaks and work times. Your child’s Primary Teacher spends approximately 7-8 hours per day with your child. She or he has two 15 minute breaks during that time, a 60 minute lunch outside of that time, and 1-3 time per week, a one hour work period. During their work period, the usual main activities are posting the Daily Story with pictures for you to view, making entries in the Home-School Journal for your child, and developing the flexible Weekly Plan that includes suggestions for what you and your child can do to support your child’s explorations and projects.


Question: How is professional development handled? Who does it? What curricula or materials are used?
Answer: Our development of all of our staff members is extensive and ongoing. It includes quarterly professional development days; 1on1 weekly meetings with all instructional staff members; monthly staff meetings; weekly team meetings; support to each staff member to attend seminars, conferences, and workshops in their interest areas; continuing advancement in their permit levels at colleges, universities, and online; and, special conferences on the philosophy and practices of RIE, PITC, Reggio, Music Together, Luna Dance Institute, Learning with Nature, and other key influences of our program. C5 uses materials from these sources, and we also have our own extensive materials that have been developed over the last 50 years that are influential in the field of Early Childhood Education.


Question: What sets C5 apart from other schools?
Answer: We are probably the most comprehensive and innovative program that you will find with expert nurturing that is a leader in facilitation of optimal learning and development for your child that is keyed to him or her and to your family. There is a wealth of information to support this. For example, we are referred to and visited by other professionals as a model program and a leader in the field of Early Childhood Education.


Question: Can parents and family members visit the classroom at any time?
Answer: Certainly. We encourage all parents and family members to come any time, other than, usually, at nap time. Simply check the Flow of the Day on the private website, Connections, to see the daily schedule for your child’s classroom. You and your family members can come and observe, participate in the activities, breast feed, give your child a bottle, share stories, bring in supplies for explorations and projects, and join in.


Question: What holidays does C5 celebrate or not celebrate?
Answer: We do not celebrate any holidays. There are simply too many to equitably treat each one that a family might want. So, we enthusiastically encourage every family to celebrate outside of the program and our facilities all of the holidays that are important to them. We do, however, celebrate each child’s birthday and key points and endings of projects and significant explorations. Other special events that include celebrations are part of the C5 program, such as: Summer Book & Box, Winter Cultural Highlights, Fall Family Festival, Festival of Learning, and Costume Days.


Question: Will our preschool child be ready for Kindergarten and private school interviews where they’ll be expected to know letters and things?
Answer: When your child graduates from C5, you can expect that she or he will easily meet and exceed the typical standards for kindergarten. See the Pre-K Program information.


Question: What does a Reggio Emilia-inspired curriculum or project approach look like for infants and toddlers?
Answer: We offer a child-centered, teacher-facilitated emergent curriculum, which means that what comes from your child is the curriculum. So, if your child is an infant, their developmental issues are the curriculum. After addressing the priorities of your child feeling safe, secure, and attached to their Primary Teacher, and meeting their schedule of feeding, napping, and diapering, we assist your child in succeeding in all of their unique developmental steps in their own way and in their own time. We also provide rich and varied resources for them to explore through all of their senses and to optimally develop their social, emotional, and cognitive abilities. If your child is a toddler, we will work with many of the same basics and increase the variety and sophistication of the materials and other environmental elements, while facilitating in-depth explorations and the development of desired social skills, attitudes, and knowledge. See more under Infant Program and Toddler Program.


Question: How are difficult behaviors or conflict among children addressed?
Answer: The application of our entire philosophy and practice guidelines makes these issues very much easier to deal with and mostly disappear with children who have been in our program for any appreciable length of time. Initially, we work with your child and other children as our equal partners, treat them with great respect in an unfailingly positive, gentle manner, remaining emotionally accessible to them at all times, not trying to manage them, and provide guidance in desired behaviors versus what not to do or harsh reactions and consequences.


Question: What is the teacher turnover at C5?
Answer: We typically have a significantly lower turnover than occurs in the field of Early Childhood Education, which has been reported to be approximately 30%-40% per year! Most of the teachers who do leave our program go on to obtain higher degrees or move with their living partners to distant locales. Some who have not been able to meet our high standards have left to work for other programs or have been let go by C5.


Question: Do children go out on field trips?
Answer: The toddlers go each week in buggies, with exceptional safety measures and a supervision ratio of 1 adult to 2 children in place, to the Farmers Market to buy items for the classrooms. The older children go occasionally to special places with advanced planning that are in line with their projects and to the San Francisco Main Branch Public Library. Also only one block away are the Opera, Symphony, Herbst Theater, City Hall, and the Community Garden.


Question: What is the daily schedule for the classroom my child might attend?
Answer: The Flow of the Day is different for each age group and varies among some classrooms. It is flexible in each one. You are welcome to choose from the links below to explore a sample Flow of the Day for each basic age group.
Infants Flow of the Day (link coming soon!)
Toddlers Flow of the Day (link coming soon!)
Preschool Flow of the Day (link coming soon!)
Pre-K Flow of the Day (link coming soon!)


Question: What all does tuition include?
Answer: It encompasses all of the basic services of the program, including participation in the 10 hour full-day, full-year activities; catered daily lunch, morning and afternoon snacks, and drinks for children on solid foods, with individual accommodation for food sensitivities, allergies, and vegetarian; cleaning supplies for diapering, etc.; 45 weekly Music Together music sessions, CDs, and song books for three collections a year; Creative Movement and Dance each week; and, a rich array of materials, supplies, tools, and equipment in the classrooms; gardening, plant life, and live animals.


Question: What does the food program look like? Is it included in the tuition?
Answer: All children who are eating solid foods receive the food daily from our caterer, Chefables. You can find them at chefbles.com. It is exceptionally high quality nutritious and very tasty food, sourced locally from mostly organic suppliers and cooked from scratch by an executive chef and his highly experienced, professional crew. They use less flour and more quinoa, hardly any sugar, and a wide variety of delicious dishes that are available on our private website in a monthly menu that varies weekly. They have a full-time nutritionist and a full-time baker, who bakes everything that they supply, such as small: bagels, pretzels, muffins, tortillas, scones, and a variety of breads and very nutritious cookies and bars.


Question: What are the staff qualifications and training?
Answer: Our requirements and the average qualifications of all staff members have been going up continuously over the last 12 years. We now hire for a minimum of the 12 hours of California required early childhood education core courses, plus an Infant-Toddler course; a Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education or a related field; at least two years of exemplary experience in a child development center; skill with technology, writing, and general communications; and 12 other key personal traits and skills that are desired as an employee at C5 Children’s School. Most of our staff members have Site Supervisor permits, and some have Directors Permits. They could lead and manage other programs and centers; however, they choose to work at C5 with our philosophy, practices, and other highly dedicated, experienced, and skilled professionals. We have several staff members who have been working at C5 for over 5, 10, and 15 years. We have an extensive and very renowned training and professional development program.