Programs at C5

San Francisco Early Childhood Education Programs​

We offer a wide range of early care and learning programs at our centers in San Francisco, from our basic facilitation of optimal learning, to special programs within the day, week, month, and year.

Our program operates in four centers and is open daily, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Program Elements

We offer a wide range of programs for children, including:

  • 35 Learning Areas in Each Classroom
  • Afternoon Programs
  • Annual Picnics
  • Artists in Residence
  • C5 Community-Wide Potlucks
  • Child Consultants
  • Costume Days, Costume Week, and the Costume PartyPotluck
  • Creative Movement and Dance
  • Dramatic Facilitation for Social Problem-Solving
  • Fall Family Festival (see picture on right)
  • Family Scholarships
  • Festival of Learning
  • Free Play and Experimentation
  • Gardening
  • Greening of Learning Reducing, Reusing, Recycling
  • Head Parents in Each Classroom
  • In-Depth Explorations and Projects
    Mentoring College Students and Supervised Field Experiences
  • Music Program Integrated Into the Curriculum and “Music Together”
  • Nature Club Learning in Nature Weekly Sunday Gatherings in the Parks
  • Parent Meetings to Support the Classrooms and Projects
  • Parents Night Out
  • Pre-Kindergarten Program
  • Preschool for All Program
  • Program for Infant-Toddler Care Training (PITC)
  • Project Books
  • ReCreate Rooms
  • Resources for Infant Educarers Training (RIE)
  • Summer Book & Box Projects
  • Visiting Artists
  • Winter Cultural Highlights
We offer a wide range of programs at our San Francisco early childhood education centers. View our programs here.

Additions to the Main Program and Curriculum

C5 provides the Music Together program once a week in our San Francisco early childhood education classrooms for every learning group. C5 teachers have been trained by Music Together from Princeton, New Jersey. The program is included as part of regular tuition, and families receive Music Together song books and download codes for the comprehensive music collection that the children experience throughout the school year. Parents and family members are invited to join the weekly sessions. Simply, check with your child’s teaching team for days and times.

This is an all-summer activity where families collect things in a book and/or a box that happen over the summer, and they decorate them and bring them into the school at the beginning of a new school year to share with their child’s learning group. Each family signs up for a 15 minute presentation. They are usually conducted in September-October. The children keep the books and boxes in the classroom and refer to them for months.

This activity is very similar to the Summer Book & Box activity. The presentations by each family are about their current family culture, different cultural origins and influences, and/or heritage. It is usually held in late January and early February.

We attempt to recruit a different person to come each month on two afternoons, about two weeks apart, to engage children and staff members at our San Francisco early childhood education centers. These “artists” are often friends of C5, parents, extended family members, and staff members. They have also been special volunteers from our host buildings and the surrounding community. They have been musicians, dancers, crafts people, singers, story tellers, poets, florists, computer graphic artists, and others.

The San Francisco Conservatory of Music sends two of their advanced students to C5 during select months of their school year to perform for children at both centers.

C5 has developed with professional dancers this special program to introduce children to the language of movement and dance and help them to develop competency by engaging in joyful individual, partner, and group activities that are extensions of their personal interests, explorations, and projects.

At the discretion of each teaching team in each classroom, there can be an Afternoon Program that includes themes, processes, and materials that appeal to the children and allow for their emergent interests to continue to shape their experiences within the program. The general guiding themes can change, although they tend to be scheduled on the same day of the week each week to offer consistency for the children.

Each year in the spring, C5 plans and hosts an all-month celebration of our enrolled children and their work. There are demonstrations of children and their teachers working in public venues. There is a special website that exhibits the children’s work from every age group, from infants to Prekindergarten. There is a Saturday seminar for parents, early childhood education professionals, and the public to discuss the work of young children and their powerful potential. There is a culminating gala evening of fun, food, films, games, a raffle, music, and dancing.

Each year in July, we have three weeks of Costume Days. It begins with the children and their families preparing for two weeks and making costumes and props that match each child’s interest or fascination. The teachers help when the child is in school. After that, in the third week, during Costume Week, the children finish the costumes, wear them, use them in dramatic play and scripted stories, plays and musicals, and films that they write and produce. On Friday of that week, there is a C5 community-wide evening Costume Party Potluck, where everyone, including teachers, parents, siblings, grandparents, and others wear costumes and eat, sing, play instruments, dance, and socialize at one of our San Francisco early childhood education centers.

Occasionally, teachers and parents collaborate to create a booklet that captures and represents an in-depth inquiry and/or project on which the children are working or have completed. C5 has a collection of these booklets. We can print copies for the group in the project and encourage parents to take the booklet home to keep and read with their child to extend and emphasize the learning.

Two of our teachers who went to Reggio Emilia on the 2007 study tour came back and established a more formal recycle and reuse materials area for our California State Building Center. One of them took the lead and redesigned the front half of the back store room and designated it the ReCreate room. Children can go to the room with their teachers to select materials for projects they want to create. Parents, family members, and friends of C5 donate reusable materials of all sorts for the room. The room is like a store where children can shop for free, while supporting the environment. Our other centers now also have ReCreate Rooms.

C5 has sent over a dozen staff members to Reggio Emilia, Italy over a seven year period as part of a U.S. Delegation Study Tour. Each delegation attended a one week conference and local tours of the world famous pre-primary schools in Reggio Emilia to enhance our skills and understanding of their approach, which is one of several fundamental curriculum and program influences at C5 Children’s School.

Once each year in the fall, usually in early September, C5 has a picnic, with potluck food, Music Together songs, instruments for children, and a wide range of things for currently enrolled children and alumni families to do. A popular venue has been the Julius Kahn Playground in the Presidio. We go there again in May as part of our annual Festival of Learning. Both picnics usually involve play on the exceptionally wonderful park equipment, our own kite flying, bubble making, soccer obstacle course, flower crown making, treasure hunt, very nutritious organic food, sing-alongs, and video and picture taking.

Parents have the opportunity on select evenings during the year to leave their child at our San Francisco early childhood education centers with C5 teachers and staff while they take an evening on the town. Some parents go on a date together, some do special shopping, others visit museums or parks, some join other couples, and many find creative things to do. The children are served a meal and have special activities. Getting to wear pajamas at school is a much anticipated part of the evening. These are scheduled when demand peaks; usually about twice a year. A favorite time is in early December when uninterrupted shopping is a popular idea. 

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

Afternoon Programs at our
San Francisco Early Childhood Education Centers

We often conduct special activities in the classrooms in the afternoons. Each classroom has its own schedule. The programs change and evolve over the weeks, months, and school year. The emerging interests and fascinations of the children in each learning group determine the primary theme, focus, emphasis, content, and duration of the activities in the Afternoon Programs.

Afternoon Programs at our
San Francisco Early Childhood Education Centers

We often conduct special activities in the classrooms in the afternoons. Each classroom has its own schedule. The programs change and evolve over the weeks, months, and school year. The emerging interests and fascinations of the children in each learning group determine the primary theme, focus, emphasis, content, and duration of the activities in the Afternoon Programs.

Examples of Afternoon Programs at Each Site:

At One Center

For one of the Older Preschool Learning Groups

Share & Tell: Children, teachers, and parents can share items brought from home; then, explore them together as a group and individually.

Expressive Movement: Children, parents, and teachers explore various ways to express themselves through bodily movements, such as yoga, storytelling with gestures, stretching, balancing, and dancing.

Weekly Stories and Table Games: Tim the librarian brings books to read with the group. Children can also explore a variety of table games, some they invented, with help from the teachers and parents.

Creative Exploration with Paints and Various Materials: Children, parents, and teachers work with a variety of materials and tools to create unique works of expression, such as paintings, sculptures, collages, murals, and drawings.

Dance and Instruments: Children engage in free movement to new and old recordings with scarves, ribbons, dramatic clothing, and props; along with exploration of musical instruments and sounds. Some children like to have disco music and the lighted mirror ball sending dancing specks of light around the room in the semi-dark.

For one of the Younger Preschool Learning Groups

Yoga, Stretching & Movement: Structured for young children; with mats, music, guided activities, books, posters, videos, CDs, etc.

Dramatic Play: Children design plays; conduct enactments of life events; present excerpts from existing plays, movies, books, and children’s stories; and enact role simulations.

Creative Exploration of Materials: Children work with a variety of materials and processes with the support of teachers, parents, and friends of C5. It is in line with our belief that “Children have a hundred languages.”

Cooking: Children’s mixtures; adult guided activities; tastings; demonstrations of processes; developing familiarity with tools and equipment; baking, poaching, and frying food from many lands.

Dancing: Everyone gets involved in free movement to new and old recordings; copying specific ballroom, jazz, and ethnic dance steps; moving free-form; and, contributing to the dance party atmosphere and refreshments at the end of the week!

For one of the Toddlers Learning Groups

Clay: Children explore various forms of clay as a material and a medium to develop and test their expression of feelings and ideas.

Stories in Action: Children make the themes, plots, and characters in books come alive through a wide range of drama and craft approaches.

Music Together Session: Children revisit music and movement from the collection that is offered to each learning group at a regular time each week. Our program is certified to offer this structured, world famous program to our enrolled families and children to help the children joyfully develop music competence and a more sophisticated appreciation for music and movement. It includes songs, chants, and instrumental treatments from many lands and cultures. It offers selections in different languages, rhythms, major and minor keys, new compositions, and new arrangements of folk songs and ballads.

Yoga & Dancing: Children will breathe and move with yoga mats, music, and guided activities; free movement to new and old recordings; copying specific ballroom, jazz, and ethnic dance steps; and, dance party atmosphere or mellow meditative sessions will be designed to match the children’s moods.

Woodworking: Exploration of the materials and tools used in woodworking and related activities, such as hammering, cutting, nailing, gluing, screwing, assembling, measuring, planning, and finishing.

At Another Center

For one of the Older Preschool Learning Groups

Emotional Buffet: Children explore the photos they have taken of each other, renew their discussions of beliefs, feelings, and emotions, and review some of the many emotions that are possible in relationships.

Web Search: The children continue their online investigation of “Superheroes and how and why they influence us and what do we want to do about it.”

Advanced Pre-K Yoga: This yoga is led by a C5 parent who has been a ballet dancer.

The Language of Fluids: A serious exploration of water, and more viscous fluids and how they compare to each other; and, then, joyful, free experimentation of the same things!

Big Event Dancing and Wild Movement: Children choose music, lighting, and decorations to supplement the movements and specific dances that they want to celebrate their understanding of creative movement and dance. May include dancing along with others found on the Internet via the large smart Board.

For one of the Older Toddler Learning Groups

Finger Puppets & Plays: Children sing songs and engage in other activities that promote small muscle exercise and development.

Balls: Children and teachers explore with different balls in the classroom or out of doors. They may focus on certain kinds, such as basketball, handball, or beach ball; and on specific movements, such as rolling, bouncing, and throwing.

Toddler Yoga: This is yoga designed for young toddlers. It includes movements, moods, and settings that are referenced from baby yoga books, posters, and videos that our San Francisco early childhood education centers have in our library. As with all Afternoon Program sessions, parents are invited to come and join in. This session could be called Yoga for Two!

Music & Movement: Singing, moving, and dancing to music; in addition to large muscle exercises, such as used with balance beams, jump ropes, and climbing structures. Children explore percussion, piano, strings, multiple instruments, listening to CDs and downloads of many types of music, etc. The Music Together session can also be conducted on this afternoon.

Baby Massage: Parents, teachers, and children explore the concepts, values, and techniques of nurturing, systematic touch for young toddlers.

For one of the Infants Learning Groups

Gentle Music: Teachers play soft lullabies that parents bring in. Many are from the children’s families’ cultures.

Books and More: Teachers, parents, and extended family members read books and tell family stories to the infants.

Textures: A variety of materials are available for the infants to discover and explore.

Fresh Air and Friends: If the weather permits, the teachers will take the infants immediately outside the classroom in their own soft surface play area with a tent. They move about in their own way and their own time, socialize with their other infant friends, and watch windsocks spin in the breeze.

Manipulables: Various items are placed near the infants for them to discover and explore.