Philosophies

Our Philosophies

As a leading preschool in San Francisco, our primary goal is to provide and continuously improve child development and education services of the highest quality in a climate of care and respect for children and their families. We offer a program that places an emphasis on developing strong collaborative relationships between children, staff, parents, family members, and the community.

C5’s philosophy of learning and development is influenced by the constructivist, social-constructivist, and systems thinking theories of John Dewy, Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, Jerome Bruner, Howard Gardner, Loris Malaguzzi, Carlina Rinaldi and C5 Children’s School’s theories of Partnership with Children and Community of Learners that stem from the work of Richard and Patricia Schmuck and our own extensive educational experience. We also use methods developed by the California Program for Infant Toddler Care and Magda Gerber’s RIE methods at our preschools in San Francisco.

Our Mission

Our mission is to facilitate young children’s optimal development and learning in a safe, supportive, and enriched environment.

Our Mission

Our mission is to facilitate young children’s optimal development and learning in a safe, supportive, and enriched environment.

The Reggio Approach

We draw inspiration from the world-renowned educators and preprimary schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy, and from others around the U.S. and the world who are also influenced by the Reggio Emilia approach to Early Childhood Education. 

Our faculty participates in a wide range of workshops and seminars that support the Reggio approach and that also offer professional development and growth opportunities to educators, parents, and others who are interested in the philosophy and practice of the Reggio approach to early childhood education. 

Some of our faculty members also belong to the North American Reggio Alliance, a network of educators, parents, and advocates who are seeking to elevate both the quality of life and the quality of schools for young children, their families, and their communities.

In all aspects of our organization, we maintain the characteristics of continuously learning and improving and an atmosphere that is joyful, exciting, caring, aesthetic, compelling, engaging, and rich with creativity, surprises, and the promise of great potential.

In all aspects of our organization, we maintain the characteristics of continuously learning and improving and an atmosphere that is joyful, exciting, caring, aesthetic, compelling, engaging, and rich with creativity, surprises, and the promise of great potential.

Learn More About
Our Philosophies

Our Image of the Child is very comprehensive and includes that they are capable at birth to be powerful learners and developers; partners in their own evolution; highly perceptive; vital; energetic; curious; exploratory; adventurous; open-minded; adaptive; and expressive; makers of meaning; innovators of new views of the world and the things and people in it and of solutions to problems. 

They are also rapidly developing physically; deserve respect; they are teachers; co-creators of their own learning; joyful; fearless; open-minded; problem-solvers; potential to do anything; expressive; creative; expert learners; unique; live in the moment; fearless dreamers; energetic; curious; honest; adventurous; sensitive; sponges; shapers of culture; emulators of all that surrounds them; and, significant influencers on the insight and learning of their adult collaborators.

We believe that respectful, collaborative, caring, invigorating, diverse, imaginative, and adventurous relationships are at the heart of quality learning. Across our preschools in San Francisco, helping others to learn and grow is very much a part of loving. The support and influence is invited and encouraged to flow in all directions; among children, staff, parents, family members, and community members.

We highly value parent participation in the program. Parent and family member involvement is comprehensive, rich, and varied. All parents and some extended family members contribute to and interact with the program in many ways. 

We have documented over 40 different general categories at our preschool in San Francisco. They are essential partners in a comprehensive collaboration to build, improve, and sustain a dynamic and rich learning and development environment for their children and the children of other parents and families. They hold crucial information, dispositions, and other resources that make the joint effort meaningful and worthwhile. 

They play a special role in supporting the children and staff that includes giving of themselves and receiving from others in the community of learners. They are also advocates for young children and the program in liaison with the broad community.

They fulfill the role of a professional by working hard, maintaining high standards, adhering to the highest ethics, continuously learning, constantly improving quality, and collaborating to get the job done. They facilitate every aspect of children’s learning and development and assist parents and family members in their understanding of and participation in the program. 

They strive to find new ways to make the processes and accomplishments of the children, staff, parents, and family members accessible, visible, and appreciated by all. They build new alliances inside and outside of the program and act as effective advocates for children, families, and their profession.

We consider the school as everybody’s house, a neighborhood of families, a place of research, a cultivator of diversity of many types, a sanctuary for children to learn and develop, and an opportunity for children to reach their full potential and create a new culture for the world. 

Parents, family members, neighbors of the school, experts in several disciplines, and influential educators from many areas of the field all participate actively and frequently in our San Francisco preschools to produce an optimal learning environment and a strong program for C5 children. We offer what we do for others who work with young children to examine, debate, and reflect upon if they wish.

Our community is an integral part of our school and program. There are a myriad of ways that we productively interact with our whole community. We exchange information, services, materials, facilities, and share events. In part, it is composed of parents and family members, neighbors in our buildings and nearby homes and businesses, friends of our school, professional colleagues, many service providers, government agencies, the media, and the general public. 

A few examples are weekly stories from Tim the librarian, visiting artists from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Artists in Residence, parent work days, annual used book sale, family food experiences, Summer Book and Box, Winter Cultural Highlights, annual picnics and potlucks, bake sales, cash donations, conference facilities, and the annual Festival of Learning with its exhibits, seminar, public demonstrations, raffle, and gala evening party.

The focus of learning emanates from children and their interests, fascinations, and family customs, culture, and heritage. The process takes a multitude of forms that include all of the senses in careful and deep examination of their inner world and all of the elements in the surrounding environments, including the dynamics among them. 

It also opens up to an unending array of forms of expression, called languages, that include drawing, painting, sculpting, dancing, talking, singing, dramatic play, making music, the use of light, nurturing others, and, the syntheses of these and the addition of approaches and symbol systems as yet unknown. 

The daily routines are Amazement, Marvel, Excitement, Concentration, Invention, Sharing, Transformation, Disorientation, Reflection, Imitation, Surprise, Observation, Hypothesizing, Communication, Contemplation, Risk-taking, Creation, Connection, Appreciation, and Celebration.

As a powerful influence, the environment is considered another teacher. All of its elements have a significant effect on the spirit, attitude, and interactions of all who participate in it. For example, consider the use of natural and other light, the overall aesthetics, the specific colors, the textures, the materials, the special relationships, the accessibility of items, the presence of meaningful symbols and children’s work, the attention to detail, and the obvious influence that the participants have had on it and can have. 

It should convey the care and respect by which it was created and used and be so inviting and compelling that children and adults want to enter it, participate, and are reluctant to leave.

The pace of the activities, the demeanor of the adults, and the arrangement of elements in the environment support being in tune with the rhythms of the children. The time taken for explorations and expressions has an organic life that matches the immediate and recurring interests of the children and any one emergent theme can last for months, if children desire. 

A priority and the necessary time are also given to the study and improvement of effective processes of relating to each other and to the value of bringing along all members of the learning group in understanding, appreciating, and acting upon the unique differences of each contributing individual. New possibilities are explored, ideas build upon each other, and children revisit earlier concepts, experiences, and work to gain new insights and inspiration.

Instead of holidays, we celebrate children's birthdays, project completions, and other emergent curriculum events

Guiding Principles

The following are descriptions of the principles that guide our preparation as professionals; our planning with staff, parents, and distant colleagues; our actions with children; our problem-solving; our review of our work; and, our continuous improvement.

We recognize that relationships between adults and children involve the exercise of power as well as the expression of caring, friendliness, and love. We believe that it is necessary to be especially mindful about how adult power is used and maintained, as well as children’s resilience and resistance to that power. Using this approach, we work with children as their very caring, gentle, polite, and skillful partners. Our aim is to find out what is on their mind from their point of view, rather than using our power as adults to control, criticize, manage, or manipulate.

We believe in having joy in every aspect of our interactions at our preschool in San Francisco. The best learning occurs when we are positive and energized about our efforts and the results they might bring. The first stage in learning is the affect test. If a child senses that the environment and the relationships are safe and friendly, they will be receptive to further interactions and advance to higher levels of cognition. If the conditions are pleasing, aesthetic, and in line with their personal interests and fascinations, they can easily become excited about participating.

We help children to be very effective group members and for groups to be very powerful learning teams. Each group has the potential for and experiences many of the dynamics that occur in communities outside of the school. Each member has special social and motivational requirements and often goes through typical stages of growth and development with the group. 

One stage is to be accepted and to be understood and appreciated for who they are. Another is to have influence in their social and physical environments. Another is to be able to accomplish tasks that are satisfying, while alone; as well as in the context of their Learning Group.

Children’s interests and fascinations are the primary vehicle for immediate, complex, comprehensive, and sustained learning. What emerges from each child becomes the curriculum. What emerges from each learning group are also opportunities for focus on real issues that have meaning for the children. The heart of our program is both relationships that are respectful, trusting, collaborative, caring, and gentle and individual and group interests and fascinations that are pursued with enthusiasm. 

Teachers skillfully facilitate explorations of children’s interests and carefully introduce provocations only when necessary to stimulate additional investigations and promote a wide range of expressions that can also lead to developing new interests and further explorations.

Children’s interests often lead to in-depth explorations that can last a few days or many months, depending on their sustaining interest. These usually turn into projects that include prolonged questioning, wide-ranging research, visits from experts, and multi-media explorations and expressions of their individual and combined concepts as they emerge. The projects evolve organically and take on many forms with usually multi-faceted presentations, dioramas, and social interactions.

Children have over a hundred languages with which to explore and express themselves in their holistic and comprehensive learning and development. A few typical examples are drawing, painting, sculpturing, writing, speaking, singing, instrumental music, light & shadow, photography, film-making, color, dancing, body gestures, fluids, patterns, graphic symbol systems, and spatial relationships. When they have the diverse materials, tools, equipment, and skillful and caring support, they learn and develop optimally, exceeding common standards of achievement and social success that are usually applied.

Guiding Principles

The following are descriptions of the principles that guide our preparation as professionals; our planning with staff, parents, and distant colleagues; our actions with children; our problem-solving; our review of our work; and, our continuous improvement.

We recognize that relationships between adults and children involve the exercise of power as well as the expression of caring, friendliness, and love. We believe that it is necessary to be especially mindful about how adult power is used and maintained, as well as children’s resilience and resistance to that power. Using this approach, we work with children as their very caring, gentle, polite, and skillful partners. Our aim is to find out what is on their mind from their point of view, rather than using our power as adults to control, criticize, manage, or manipulate.

We believe in having joy in every aspect of our interactions at our preschool in San Francisco. The best learning occurs when we are positive and energized about our efforts and the results they might bring. The first stage in learning is the affect test. If a child senses that the environment and the relationships are safe and friendly, they will be receptive to further interactions and advance to higher levels of cognition. If the conditions are pleasing, aesthetic, and in line with their personal interests and fascinations, they can easily become excited about participating.

We help children to be very effective group members and for groups to be very powerful learning teams. Each group has the potential for and experiences many of the dynamics that occur in communities outside of the school. Each member has special social and motivational requirements and often goes through typical stages of growth and development with the group. 

One stage is to be accepted and to be understood and appreciated for who they are. Another is to have influence in their social and physical environments. Another is to be able to accomplish tasks that are satisfying, while alone; as well as in the context of their Learning Group.

Children’s interests and fascinations are the primary vehicle for immediate, complex, comprehensive, and sustained learning. What emerges from each child becomes the curriculum. What emerges from each learning group are also opportunities for focus on real issues that have meaning for the children. The heart of our program is both relationships that are respectful, trusting, collaborative, caring, and gentle and individual and group interests and fascinations that are pursued with enthusiasm. 

Teachers skillfully facilitate explorations of children’s interests and carefully introduce provocations only when necessary to stimulate additional investigations and promote a wide range of expressions that can also lead to developing new interests and further explorations.

Children’s interests often lead to in-depth explorations that can last a few days or many months, depending on their sustaining interest. These usually turn into projects that include prolonged questioning, wide-ranging research, visits from experts, and multi-media explorations and expressions of their individual and combined concepts as they emerge. The projects evolve organically and take on many forms with usually multi-faceted presentations, dioramas, and social interactions.

Children have over a hundred languages with which to explore and express themselves in their holistic and comprehensive learning and development. A few typical examples are drawing, painting, sculpturing, writing, speaking, singing, instrumental music, light & shadow, photography, film-making, color, dancing, body gestures, fluids, patterns, graphic symbol systems, and spatial relationships. When they have the diverse materials, tools, equipment, and skillful and caring support, they learn and develop optimally, exceeding common standards of achievement and social success that are usually applied.

Family Participation
at our San Francisco Preschools

We have a high level of parent, family, and community participation in our program, and they do so for a variety of highly satisfying reasons.

To begin with, when you and your other family members are involved in our preschool in San Francisco, our program runs better, it is more responsive to all families and children, and the learning and development of your child and other children is greatly enhanced.

We know that most parents these days have busy lives and deal with a variety of challenges on their time and other resources. Your participation helps you and your family to be more aware of how the program functions and where your child can benefit from your support. Any contributions that you make will greatly increase the quality of the program for your child and for others.

We also have community members who are not parents who participate actively and contribute often to the program. Your child benefits directly in many ways from all of the resources that we are able to obtain and implement in the program.

When you enroll your child in C5, your child is assigned to a classroom of similar aged children and a highly professional team of teachers who are also supported by other staff members. Your child will also have a primary teacher and be a member of a small learning group. 

Each classroom has a Head Parent who will help you to get acquainted and continue to have access to the basic information from an experienced parent’s point of view. The Head Parent can also give you examples of how you can support the program. This alliance with you and other C5 parents helps to strengthen the C5 parent community and builds an important link for your family to other families. 

There are many ways to support C5 and our preschools in San Francisco. We have identified approximately 35 different areas for learning in each classroom that we ask each parent to consider and choose one or two that they can support in some way. Usually the areas that you choose to support match your interest, experience, skills, knowledge, or other resources to which you have access. 

Your support will also include participation in enjoyable fundraising activities, such as the annual Festival of Learning and the annual used book and video sale. All families participate in one way or another to support these annual events.

We believe that respectful, collaborative, caring, invigorating, diverse, imaginative, and adventurous relationships are at the heart of quality learning. Across our preschools in San Francisco, helping others to learn and grow is very much a part of loving. The support and influence is invited and encouraged to flow in all directions; among children, staff, parents, family members, and community members.

Family members may participate in a variety of ways. You may think of some that we have not.

First, every parent is asked to select and commit to support an area in the classroom, as mentioned above. The list of the 35 learning areas is available on our comprehensive Private Website. When you choose and contribute to one or more of the areas in your child’s classroom, it will very likely increase your child’s sense that you care about their learning and development, that they are acknowledged and appreciated when away from home, and that you are a significant part of their school program.

Then, there are a few other ways for you to consider—You can support the amazing array of children’s projects that under way in each classroom in the program by bringing in recycled items for your child and her or his teachers to use; contributing your experience, skills, materials, and information related to the projects; joining the other parents when the children celebrate milestones and completion of projects; and, helping to document the projects or organize the presentation, publishing, or archiving of the projects.

You might volunteer to be an Artist in Residence for two afternoons one month at one of our preschools in San Francisco. Our notion of an Artist in Residence is broad and welcoming of parents and friends of C5 who might offer a wide range of skills, experience, knowledge, and enthusiasm. To see our list of recent Artists in Residence, click here.

You could also help with the C5 newsletters and other publications, maintaining the Websites, building play equipment and furniture; helping with technology support; doing a little sewing; chaperoning on the neighborhood field trips; being in on the seasonal cleanups; coordinating the annual picnic; organizing social events; helping with grants research and grants writing; maintaining relations with funding agencies; and, public relations.

You could volunteer to be a Head Parent when you have been in the program a while.

Typically, many kindergartens and primary schools look at a parent’s record of contributions to their child’s preschool years in determining acceptance into their schools.

There are some exciting and rewarding things going on all the time at C5, and parents’ participation as individuals or in groups on children’s explorations and projects make it even more so!

Most of the families come to the Potlucks & Sing-alongs that happen three times a year. You can help by obtaining contributions from friends and other family members of needed items from your child’s classroom wish list; providing cash donations; obtaining employer matching funds; conducting fundraising activities; buying and having close and extended family members wear C5 logo clothing; and, by contributing your expertise or life experiences as a special visitor or Artist in Residence directly to children in the classroom.

There are many opportunities to form a committee or serve on one that is already operating. Most operate under the aegis of the School Support Committee. The guideline is usually to base your participation on a personal interest or area of expertise or other resource that you want to offer. You may also be interested in serving on the Board of Directors. Talk to the staff, administration or a member of the Board of Directors about where you can get involved.

We are pleased to have parents visit the Centers. Whenever you visit, there are a few guidelines to follow. Simply ask any staff member for information. We also invite you to ask questions about activities, learning approaches, and teaching techniques to help you better understand the program and ways that you can support your child and the program at school and at home.

As part of our program at both Centers, under special conditions, children participate in walks outside of the Center within the building or, for appropriate age groups, around the immediate area outside of our center buildings, such as to the Children’s Division of the Main Branch Public Library, Asian Art Museum, Ballet, Philharmonic, Conservatory of Music, City Hall, Community Garden, and the Civic Center Park. These informal outings in the immediate area outside are confined to within a five-block radius of the Center. Children in the Toddler Programs at both centers can take buggy rides around the block or to the nearby Farmers Market.

Wider travel for our centers beyond the immediate area outside of the buildings is announced in advance and requires C5‘s full field trip planning and implementation procedures, which include parent or guardian approval, children having adult chaperones in a one-to-two ratio, and extra equipment.

Field trips beyond the immediate vicinity of the centers: C5 carefully organizes special field trips for children that complement the projects and activities that are of current interest in the classrooms. For example, an interest in one of the pre-kindergarten learning groups was restaurants. Each day during their project time, the children cooked different foods, made aprons, served lunch to their peers, practiced taking orders on note pads, and learned restaurant hosting and management. The children, teachers, and parents planned field trips to a pie making plant and viewed commercial food preparation and cooking and to a prestigious dinner restaurant to view the staff making the meals change-over and the set-up for dinner.

Extensive care is applied in planning and taking field trips. Permission forms are signed by parents. Parents volunteer to be chaperones in a 1:2 adult to child ratio. Thorough orientation sessions are conducted. Maps, schedules, and emergency contact information are handed out to all adult participants. Adults wear distinctive safety vests and carry emergency gear that includes wireless communications, amplified sound, flags, stop signs, safety lights, and first aid supplies.

Many parents plan and conduct playdates for families to get together on weekends, and some dates are for field trips outside of the C5 school and scheduled school time.

C5 also brings in a wide variety of guests who talk to, present, and work with the children at our San Francisco preschools. The categories of visitors are numerous and includes, architecture, construction, transportation, research, animal handling, painting, weaving, film-making, photography, domestic and commercial cooking, musical performing, computer graphics, storytelling, and more.