Our Program-Wide Study Focus

For the 2018-2019 School Year

Each year, we adopt a study focus to concentrate our learning and, with that gathering knowledge, to become better at utilizing it in our program. This year the focus is:

Community Influences in the Dynamics of Learning and Developing

We brainstormed the following elements as a starting point for examining Community Influences. We have been adding to it, recruiting participation, and integrating it more into our planning, problem-solving, applying, and celebrating with our many partners!

  • Enrolled Family Members
  • Their Close & Extended Family Members
  • C5 Children
  • Alumni
  • C5 Instructional Staff
  • C5 Administration
  • Building Hosts
  • Friends
  • Neighbors
  • Colleagues
  • Special Groups (1)
  • Special Activities
  • Service Providers
  • Vendors
  • Prominent People
  • Venues (2)
  • Home Environments (3)
  • Building Environments (3)

1. Special Groups Examples: Online Groups, Book Club, Gym Group, Scouting, Hobbyists, Church, Synagogue, Temple, Mosque, Fraternity-Sorority, Opera Goers, Sports Fans, Block Watch, etc.

2. Venues Examples: Parks, Libraries, Settings & Conditions Supporting Projects

3. Home and Building Environments: Examples: Interior Spaces and Offerings, Outdoor Yards and Offerings

We will begin gathering examples of our findings and documentation of children’s work related to our study focus in January, and we will exhibit and discuss them s part of our annual Festival of Learning that lasts this year from the latter part of April through the end of July of 2018.

Our Study Focus for the 2017-2018 Year was . . .

Relationships – At the Heart of Learning and Developing with People, Feelings, Ideas, Processes, and Things

We observed, researched, experimented, and adapted our attitudes, skills, and strategies to better facilitate optimal learning and development with our enrolled children and their families. See the Slide Show

The characteristics that we looked for, introduced, and developed in our relationships with People, Feelings, Ideas, Processes, and Things that were:

Reciprocal – With a fair exchange through initiative and receptivity with mutual benefits
Collaborative – Engages in a high form of cooperation and assistance
Loving – Features tender, joyful, giving dispositions
Egalitarian – Treats all power and influence issues equally
Respectful – Careful and conscientious in all matters
Sensitive – Alert to all characteristics and conditions
Rich – Has diverse, high-quality tangibles and intangibles
Multi-Dimensional – Contains many elements, levels, and perspectives
Authentic – Represents complete and accurate aspects
Organic – Natural, open, adapting, self-correcting
Evolving – Self-reflective and accommodates new elements
Caring – Gentle, sympathetic, empathetic, and pace sensitive
Exploratory – Seeks out new possibilities
Durable – Gets stronger and withstands challenges over time
Sustaining – Lasts with attention to maintenance and improvements

— Also Look For —

Our 14th year of the month-long Festival of Learning 2018 began May 1st!

Join Us Each Year Online at

In 2018, many aspects of our program were online for the first time! The festival featured: an extensive online exhibit, ribbon cutting ceremony, a Grand Marshall, puppet shows, webinars, in-depth explorations and projects, descriptions of our process in facilitating children’s work, background on Learning Groups, parent testimonials, 21 public demonstrations, chat rooms, messaging with classrooms, and a professional exchange on the inquiry approach to learning and projects with early learning and development colleagues from around the San Francisco Bay Area.

Focus on . . . School is Underway!

Now that the new school year is underway, there are powerful forces at work. The children are embracing their Summer Books & Boxes that were presented by all families at the beginning of the school year. Miniature Fall Family Festivals are happening differently in every classroom. And, the children’s ideas for projects and explorations are flowing forth.

We are facilitating each child in pursuing her or his own interests and fascinations, and some are sharing their interests with the others in their learning group, leading to fascinating explorations, research, experiments, and amazing projects.

One preschool learning group is researching dragons, and they are already making their own dragon outfits. One of the first and most desirable steps is making the dragon wings. A lot of wire and paper wrapping is leading to impressive wings that are gradually taking shape each day.

Parents and family members are getting in the flow of responding to weekly plans and volunteering to bring in items to support the initiatives in each classroom. Daily Stories are populating the private website, Connections, and the daily staff observations and photo and note-taking documentation are leading to our comprehensive assessment for each child and the second parent conferences that will be held in the first of the new calendar year. The first parent conferences that were held in September and October were focused on what families wanted for their children during the year and how C5 was going to help that happen.

Extended family members around the world are following their child relatives’ daily activities in each classroom as presented on our private Connections website and participating from afar with comments, suggestions, and requests.

Our philosophy and practice of multi-dimensional sharing of information with families about what their children are doing and how they are learning and developing and the families’ very involved and organic participation in their own way and in their own time all help to make the fall days at school a very beautiful and productive time.

New School Year

The fabulous group of older children and their families have left now, by the end of summer, for Kindergartens, new homes, and jobs far flung!

Continuing are our amazing groups of young children in our year-round program who will flow into the next school year that officially began on August 28, 2017!

Enrolling over the summer and joining our community of learners are the promising new group of children and their families, approximately 30 of them!

There will be lots of activity and special events at the beginning of the new school year to welcome the new families and to help them to be accepted, understood, and appreciated; and, to discover what kind of influences they can have on the program and what kind of expectations the program has of them.

We will also celebrate the children and families who are continuing and watch as they skillfully help to bring in the new families.

  • There will be detailed orientations for every family and classroom level parent group meetings to discuss Parent and family participationthe coming year and to learn more about their teachers and the C5 program.
  • There will be the Annual Fall Picnic on Saturday, September 30th, where families and staff mingle, eat, play, and enjoy each other and life in general.
  • There will be the Summer Book & Box presentations of what happened in each family over the summer.
  • There will be the first Parent Conferences of the year where more details of the program are discussed and what each family hopes for their child in the coming year.
  • There will be a tuition offset for families of four-year-olds who live in San Francisco that begins on the first of September and is provided by the City’s Preschool for All program.
  • Enrolled families will continue to plan for, raise, and save funds for their annual contributions to everyone’s efforts to raise money for the C5 Scholarship fund.
  • Families begin planning for their Family Food Experience at C5 on one day sometime during the school year.
  • Families also prepare for their individual or group Community Service activity sometime during the school year.
  • The design upgrade of our private, secure website, Connections, will debut with extended families all over the world being able to access what their child relatives and San Francisco families are doing in the C5 program every school day!
  • And, fascinating child-initiated and directed explorations and projects begin!

Summer Dreaming and Doing at C5

We have 130 families in our program in nine classrooms across two centers; with 23 children going to kindergarten and new children coming into the program over the summer and early fall. There will be a lot of excitement, leaving celebrations, and ongoing explorations, projects, relationship building, and caring and joy in everything!

What are we doing in the summer?

Water play Gardening Climbing Dancing Music Painting Sliding Constructing Reading Photography and Video Investigating Nature Celebrations Field Trips Costume Making Parades Potluck Party Care of Animals Adventure Games Sand, Dirt, and Mud Eating Out of Doors Cooking Reading Lounging

What are we ‘dreaming’ about?

  • Preparing with many children and families for kindergarten, where they will meet and exceed traditional expectations
  • How we will comprehensively and caringly phase in new children and their families as we learn to understand and appreciate each one, share influences, and introduce them to the highly productive, optimal learning and development that will be for their child
  • Having joy and collaboration in everything we do over the summer and beyond
  • Planning our study focus for the next school year to build on this year’s that was, “The Powerful Child – As a Unique Contemporary Citizen and a Contributor to the Future”
  • How many people will visit us again this year from foreign countries, professional groups, government agencies, and other early learning and development programs
  • And, what role you might play in visiting us, contributing to what we do, and joining us with your child and family

Our Annual Festival of Learning!

This year our study focus for the school year has been The Powerful Child – As a Contemporary Citizen and as a Contributor to the Future. We make extensive efforts throughout the year to learn about how children are powerful and how to help each individual child and each learning group to become powerful.

Our study focus culminates in our Festival of Learning throughout most of the month of May. During the month, we have many activities.

The public is invited to all events. Each year, we include partner programs in our festival. They are typically other early childhood programs and curriculum classes from regional colleges or universities.

Here are descriptions of the main ones.

The Main Elements of the Festival

Ÿ Collaborating with parents, family members, ECE Students, other early childhood programs, and community participants to prepare for and conduct the Festival of Learning

Ÿ The Exhibit of Children’s Work
Ÿ The Exhibit Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Ÿ The Public Seminar and Workshop
Ÿ Tours of the Exhibit, Centers, and Classrooms at C5
Ÿ Public Demonstrations
Ÿ Fundraising Raffle
Ÿ The Festival Picnic Celebration
Ÿ The Exhibit Travels

Collaborating to Prepare

Throughout the school year, beginning in September, children, parents, family members, and C5 staff collaborate on the Study Focus, this year it is The Powerful Child, and earn more and do more to facilitate children along new insights gained. We also begin identifying sample of work from ongoing explorations and projects that help to illustrate what we are doing, and we reserve them for display, reflection, discussion, and expanded learning.

Then, from January through April, teachers, staff members and parents plan and prepare for the many events that will be featured in the festival. The theme each year is merely to showcase aspects of the program that we are already working on with children, and it helps to make visible and otherwise accessible how children are developing and learning at C5 Children’s School.

Exhibit of Children’s Work

The exhibit is held during the month of May in the Great Hall of the building that houses our CA State Building Center, the Hiram Johnson State Office Building. It is located at 455 Golden Gate Avenue and is open during business hours.

The exhibit features examples of children’s work from all 19 learning groups, ages 6 weeks old to 5.9 years old, in nine islands of displays. Our 15 guiding principles for our program are also on special display. Visitors will see displays, some are interactive, of children’s ongoing projects and activities that document their in-depth explorations, projects, and expressions in a wide array of various media, processes, and discoveries that reveal the power of learning of young children in collaboration with each other, teachers, parents, family members, and community participants.

Special tours are also available by appointment.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

This grand event was held in the morning on the day after the exhibits are set up. This year it was May 2nd. It includes all 150 of the children and 42 staff members from both centers and many of the parents, dignitaries, supporters of C5 Children’s School, and neighborhood representatives.

Public Seminar and Workshop

On Wednesday, May 23rd from 5:30-8:30 p.m., we will conduct our annual comprehensive introduction to the exhibit and lead a question and answer session on our inquiry approach and project work in an emergent curriculum working with children, families, and the public. The session is open to the public and is regularly attended by many early childhood education professionals.

Tours of the Exhibit, Centers, and Classrooms at C5

Tours of our facilities are available during the seminar and workshop and by appointment at other times. We have accepted and will guide individuals and groups from other countries, representatives of government groups, staff members from other early childhood education programs, students of early childhood education, prospective families who are considering enrollment in our programs, researchers, and members of the media.

The Exhibit Travels

When the exhibit is over on May 25th, individual displays from some classrooms are taken for continued exhibit to the work places and community centers of enrolled families until later in the summer.

Annual Festival Fundraising Raffle

We are holding our raffle again this year with great prizes, with proceeds going to our scholarship fund to support families attending who are otherwise unable to afford the program. Buy tickets at—festival-of-learning-raffle-2017. Some of the prizes are: iPhone 7 Plus – SIM Free, Any Carrier; several 49er tickets, some with parking; Giants tickets club level and parking; and many others items and service offerings.

Festival Picnic Celebration

This year, on Saturday, May 20th, we will hold our annual festival picnic celebration at the Julius Kahn City Park. We sample healthy food, music, special events for children, and announce the winners of the annual Festival of Learning raffle with its many very special prizes.

Children and Teachers Working in Public

We call these Public Demonstrations. For most of the week days during the month of the festival, the children and staff at C5, with parent chaperons, take their learning processes into the public view. In most cases, the children are continuing explorations and development of their projects or their current interests and fascinations. This schedule of the Public Demonstrations is published online and is subject to change.

A sampling of Public Demonstrations is listed below.

Public Demonstration (1) The C5 Mighty Oak Learning Group children will demonstrate their “Primary Colors” with their teachers in the Civic Center Park, May 3rd, from 10:30 to11:30 am.

Public Demonstration (2) The C5 Rainbow Twilight Elephants Learning Group children will be “Making Quesadilla” with their teachers in the CA State Building Center’s cafeteria at 455 Golden Gate Avenue, May 4th, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Public Demonstration (3) The C5 Silver Flashing Trucks Learning Group children will be working on “Board Games” with their teachers in the CA State Building Center’s Great Hall at 455 Golden Gate Avenue, May 5th, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Public Demonstration (4) The C5 Mighty Oak Learning Group children will demonstrate their “Play Dough Making” with their teachers in the Civic Center Park, May 5th, from 10:30 to11:30 am.

 Public Demonstration (5) The C5 Cable Cars Learning Groups of children will be working on “Magnet Tiles” with their teachers in the CA State Building Center’s Great Hall at 455 Golden Gate Avenue, May 9th, from 9:15 to 9:45 a.m.

Public Demonstration (6) The C5 Bay Shore Butterflies Learning Group children will demonstrate their “Big and Small Tunnels” with their teachers in the Civic Center Park, May 9th, from 9:15 to 9:45 a.m.

Public Demonstration (7) The C5 Cable Cars Learning Groups of children will be working on “Water Colors” with their teachers in the CA State Building Center’s Great Hall at 455 Golden Gate Avenue, May 10th, from 9:15 to 9:45 a.m.

Public Demonstration (8) The C5 Babbling Brook Learning Groups children will be working on “Music Instruments” with their teachers in the SF City Building Center’s Cafe, May 10th, from 9:15 to 9:45 a.m.

Public Demonstration (9) The C5 Venus Flytraps Learning Group children will provide an “Advice Corner” with their teachers in the CA State Building Center’s Great Hall at 455 Golden Gate Avenue, May 10th, from 11:30 to 12:30 a.m.

Public Demonstration (10) The C5 Rainbow Lollipops Learning Group children will demonstrate their “Painting on Canvas” with their teachers in the Civic Center Park, May 11th, from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m.

Public Demonstration (11) The C5 Penguins Learning Group of toddler-aged children will be demonstrating on “Water Play” with their teachers in the Civic Center Park, May 12th, from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Public Demonstration (12) The C5 Monkeys Learning Group children will demonstrate their “Poppy: The Maze Runner” with their teachers in CA State Building Center’s Great Hall at 455 Golden Gate Avenue, May 16th, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Public Demonstration (13) The C5 Rainbow Piano Truck Stop Monsters Learning Group children will demonstrate their “Eating Udon with Chopstick” skills with their teachers in CA State Building Center’s Great Hall at 455 Golden Gate Avenue, May 17th, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Public Demonstration (14) The C5 Ice and Bacon Dragons Learning Group children will demonstrate their “Sewer Building” project work with their teachers in the  Civic Center Park, May 18th, from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m.

Public Demonstration (15) The C5 Monkeys Learning Group children will demonstrate their “Poppy: The Maze Runner” with their teachers in the CA State Building Center’s Great Hall at 455 Golden Gate Avenue, May 18th, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Public Demonstration (16) The C5 Mighty Oak Learning Groups children will demonstrate their “Wood Working and Recycling” with their teachers in the Civic Center Park, May 19th, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Public Demonstration (17) The C5 Linda and Chen’s Learning Group children will demonstrate their “Dance Party” with their teachers in the Civic Center Park, May 19th, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Public Demonstration (18) The C5 Golden Gate Class children will be working on “Exploring Urban Outdoors” with their teachers in the Larkin St. Main Library, May 23rd, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Public Demonstration (19)  The Hummingbirds Learning Group children will demonstrate “A Session with Percussion” with their teachers in the Civic Center Park, May 24th, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.

Public Demonstration (20) The Elephants Learning Group children will be working on “Pizza Prep” with their teachers in the CA State Building Center’s Great Hall at 455 Golden Gate Avenue, May 24th, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Public Demonstration (21) The Ice and Bacon Dragons Learning Groups of children will demonstrate their “Cooking” project with their teachers in the Civic Center Park, May 25th, from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m

Public Demonstration (22) The Elephants Learning Group children will be working on “Pizza Prep” with their teachers in the CA State Building Center’s Great Hall at 455 Golden Gate Avenue, May 25th, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Directions to C5

C5 Children’s School main offices and the CA State Building Center are located at 455 Golden Gate Avenue, Suite 2400, San Francisco, California, 94102. We are in the Hiram Johnson State of California Office Building. It takes up the entire block. The main entrance to the building is on the South side in the middle of the block between Polk and Larkin Streets.

Our other center is located across Polk Street in the San Francisco Public Utilities Building at 525 Golden Gate Avenue.


The closest parking is in the block next to our building. It is the new University of California Hastings Parking garage at 376 Larkin Street, between McAllister and Golden Gate Avenue, on the right side as you are traveling north on Larkin. The rate for 3 hours is approximately $11.

The next closest parking garage is in another block next to our building. It is the Civic Center garage that is underground below Civic Center Park in front of City Hall. The entrance is on McAllister Street between Polk and Larkin. The rates are approximately: 0-1 hour $2; 1-2 hours $5; 2-3 hours $9; 3-4 hours $11.

Mass Transit

If you take BART or MUNI, get off at the Civic Center Station, walk to Larkin, go north on Larkin to Golden Gate Avenue, turn left before crossing Golden Gate Avenue, walk to the middle of the block, and the main entrance to our building is immediately off of the sidewalk in the State of California Building.

Security in the Building

There is security screening in the CA State Building that is similar to screening at courtrooms and airports. It is augmented by the California Highway Patrol. The security officers can direct you to our school and meeting spaces. Security at the SF City Building is conducted by the San Francisco County Sheriffs.


C5 Children’s School is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public interest organization. Donations and Sponsorships are accepted. Contributions are tax deductible.

History of Our Festival of Learning

Our first exhibit was in 2005. Many examples of children’s work were displayed on the mezzanine in front of the Preschool Center and around the hallways outside the school. The theme that year was “Making Learning Visible—An exhibit advocating for the rights of children and the possibilities of learning for all.”

In 2006, the exhibit was installed in the Great Hall at the Preschool Center building and was displayed prior to the auction. That year, the theme was “Growing Strong Together.”

In 2007, we discontinued the auction and created the Festival of Learning with the central focus on children, their work, and their learning. We replaced the fundraising function of the auction with money donations from families, friends, extended families, and corporations; and, the sales of raffle tickets and tickets to the Gala Party. These funds were used for special enhancement activities and a small number of partial scholarships. The festival theme that year was “Facilitating Learning and Development in Partnership with Young Children and Families.”

Also in 2007, as part of our staff retention and incentive plan and to augment our comprehensive staff development and curriculum planning, we set an objective of sending two teachers each year on the U.S. Study Tour to Reggio Emilia, Italy. The proceeds from the Festival of Learning fundraising activities go to support these study tours, along with providing scholarships for children whose families could not otherwise afford to enroll their children in our school or to stay at C5 Children’s School.

In 2008, the festival and exhibit theme was “The Surprise! … what children can do!!!”

In 2009, the festival and exhibit theme was “The Greening of Learning – Reducing, Reusing, Recycling, ReCreating.”

In 2010, the theme for the Festival of Learning was “Discoveries! The Inspirations, Insights, and Innovations from Children’s Interactions with Materials, People, and Processes.”

In 2011, the theme was “Deeper Learning Through Collaboration – with Children, Parents, Family, Colleagues, and Community Members.”

In 2012, the theme was “Dreaming and Doing – The Power of Collaborating Teams and Individual Imagination.”

In 2013, the theme was “The Whole Child – Developing Multiple Intelligences & The 100 Languages of Children

In 2014, the theme was “Brain Power! Developing, Functioning, Applying.”

In 2015, the theme was “Diversity in Its Many Forms – Understanding, Appreciating, and Developing – Our Bodies, Brains, Multiple Intelligences, Learning Styles, Attitudes, Perspectives, Approaches, Materials, Tools, Processes, Equipment, Environments, Languages, Concepts, Cultures.”

In 2016, the theme was “The Sublime – Facilitating Making Meaning and Fostering Optimal Development.”

The strong support we have had over the years from our parent and family community, our neighbors and vendors, and the community at large have helped to spread the word about children’s capabilities and accomplishments from birth to kindergarten, to fund tuition scholarships for some of our families, and to send staff members to special conferences and other training and workshop events each year.

We invite you and those you care most about to join us each year for a marvelous three weeks of a Festival of Learning!

Spring – Growing!

Spring GG Room Selene Mini Garden
Spring GG Room Selene Girls in Garden
Children and Plants Are Growing and Blossoming!

Gardening is a very large and significant part of our program for children and families at C5 Children’s School. The children help to plant seeds and starts; tend to the plants, trees, bushes, bugs, birds, and snails; and, harvest vegetables, fruits, berries, and flowers to use in the program for food, display, and further study. Our parents and family members contribute to all aspects of the gardening and participate often.

We have growing things in or on the classrooms, room dividers, walls, outdoor play areas, and the reception areas and lobbies.

Join us for an Interview and Tour!

Apply now to be on the Waiting List for Enrollment!

Fall is Our Friend!

And, a New School Year Began at C5!fall

We kicked off new beginnings with —

Accepting newly enrolled children and families

Convening Classroom Level Parent Group Meetings

Enjoying Summer Book & Box presentations

Meeting with families during that visit for the first Parent Conference

Seeing new explorations and projects begin to take shape in the classrooms

Winding up the two weeks of alternative music that families bring in before Music Together resumes

Starting a new Music Together collection; this time “Flutes”

Sliding into a schedule of weekly Creative Movement & Dance sessions

Quizzing teachers and other staff members who come back from various training events and conferences

Noticing the Board of Directors meeting in a retreat forum to start the year and new board members

Gathering up Head Parents to work with new and ongoing families and represent the classrooms

Convening the School Support Committee meeting

Welcoming interested families into our centers on Tuesday Tours

Continuing the Enrollment Campaign with a sizeable tuition offset for referrals

Assembling for the Annual Fall Picnic at Julius Kahn Park for food, games, and a superb playground

Supporting the monthly All-Staff Meetings that result in a better program for children, families, and staff

Practicing our monthly Emergency Drills, with September 30th being a Shelter-in-Place exercise

Sampling the first of many Family Food Experiences in each classroom that will continue throughout the year

Joining forces for the Classroom Improvement Days this fall and again in the spring

Taking time together for Holidays

And, preparing for the parents led Fall Family Festival

Celebrate and Collaborate!

 Focus on . . . Summer Fun! Consider Joining Us!

Exciting things are in full gear during the summer fun in our year-around program!

Learning groups are continuing with explorations and projects that fascinate them and are evolving to new ones!

The children who are going to kindergarten are fashioning intriguing ways to prepare.

  • Some have been establishing their own version of kindergarten and including their classmates in the simulation. They declare that there will be only one teacher and “lots of children!” There will be homework. So, they assign work to each other to bring back the next day at C5. They start overly praising each other and acting harsh when suggested kindergarten guidelines are not followed.
  • Others are embracing the rich array of possibilities at C5 before they leave. They are reluctant to leave projects that are still in full swing and the friends that they have made who will follow them in a year. It summer-fun-focus-on-04-06-16seems somewhat like trying to have fun eating as much of the buffet as you can before you have to leave the restaurant!
  • Several C5 Alumni children are returning for various periods during the summer. It provides opportunities for them to re-engage the fun that they enjoyed and the rich resources, staff support, and open-ended explorations and projects that they and their families appreciated when they were here.
  • Others are going to and coming back from summer vacations with many stories, pictures, and artifacts to share! They get out the tablet computers and have fun with “Vacation Shows.”
  • Some are newly enrolled children and families who are being included in the welcoming activities and the ongoing excitement. Special emphasis is placed on inclusion and friendly helper children orienting the new child to the ways that the classrooms work and the many resources that the children in the rooms most enjoy.
  • All are enjoying the new and ongoing friendships and continuing to explore rich resources and learning possibilities!