The Little School

Preschool in San Francisco, CA 94115

1520 Lyon Street
San Francisco, CA 94115
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The Little School is a pre-school dedicated to providing individualized, quality attention to children, parents and staff. We provide an enriching, supportive environment where everyone thrives and parents and staff learn as much as the children! The Little School celebrates the unique contribution of each person and the diversity of the community as a whole ethnic, racial, economic and family structure. We have much to learn from our different abilities, as well, and ten percent of our population are children identified with special needs.

Licenses & Accreditations:
California Department of Social Services: Community Care Licensing Division
Hours of Operation:

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What makes a great school? What are the key elements and how do they go together? The staff and community at The Little School have a passion for asking questions like these, and for working together to constantly pursue the answers. The Little School believes that a great school is made from. . .

Relationships at The Little School, relationships are the foundation for everything we do. We have long believed that trusting and respectful relationships are the prime mechanism by which children learn, and learn how to learn. The relationships between teachers and children, children and children, families and children guide the curriculum. The relationships between families and teachers, school and families, and between teachers and administrators are also designed to optimize childrens and families experiences. The past 10 years of research has confirmed what we have long believed: children learn from their connections to others; children benefit when their families are positively involved in their school experience; and teachers succeed when they are supported in their professional development and empowered to participate in decision-making.

Community Childrens development in the Preschool years follows a pathway of relationships that begins with self and continues through family, school, and community. at The Little School, we take great pride in making the community part of our relationship-based education. Partnership between school and family begins with the forming of a trusting, respectful bond around a childs start to school. The partnership continues through ongoing collaboration on supporting individual children all the way up to our parent board of directors. We believe that a schools need for collaboration and family support, and a strong, authentic role for families are key aspects of a quality education.

We also believe strongly in a diverse community: where everyone feels welcome and included, has access to all aspects of the program, and can see themselves, their families and community reflected and affirmEducation We hold certain values that children experience in their classroom and that adults model in the broader community. For example, we are committed to fostering a cooperative community, where differences and problem-solving are celebrated and honorEducation We also believe that everyone has strengths to share with others and challenges for which they can receive support.

Teacher development and compensation at its heart, The Little School holds a commitment to careers for early childhood educators and highest standards of teacher skill and dedication. We were pioneers in creating an endowment fund for a Preschool, in large part to help attract, develop and retain the best teachers in the San Francisco Bay Area. This priority is reflected in the unprecedented long-term commitment of many core staff our co-founders, Leslie Roffman and Tim Treadway continue to teach and run the program, and several other staff have been with us for 10, 15, or even 20 years. (You can see teachers listed by their longevity in the program on our staff pages). The Little School attempts to provide compensation and benefits that reflect teachers skills and experience. We provide opportunities for staff to learn, grow, try new skills and take on new responsibilities. We provide time for planning, reflection and communication with parents and each other. Our program director meets with each team weekly for a unique, ongoing, reflective mentorship. and staff are encouraged to provide feedback about the program and participate in major program decisions.

Reflection The Little School is based on a model of inquiry, for both children and adults. We believe that active, organized reflection a constant mindful and intentional approach to teaching and learning, where students and teachers alike develop their skills for observation, analysis, experiment and conversation is crucial to a succesSFul school. For that reason, The Little School makes time for children, teachers and families to step back, think, talk, plan and assess together every day. Teachers have time off the classroom floor to review, talk, and plan. and time is set aside in each class for teachers and children to do the same.

An individualized approach The Little School believes that each child, family and classroom community is unique. But beyond holding that as a broad value, we use that belief as the foundation for tailoring our philosophy and teaching methods to each individual context. A Little School education begins with the relationship-building process, where teachers at once earn a child and familys trust and comfort, and using observation and engagement, get to know each child and family in detail. Teachers and families collaborate so that the school knows how each child relates to herself and others, what materials and activities she likes, and how she explores the world. By learning each childs strengths and challenges, the school can offer each child an individualized version of our program, create curriculum that responds to the needs of each group, and help each child and family recognize their vital place in and contribution to the program.

A cycle of curriculum inquiry The reflective approach towards teaching and learning fosters a balance of child initiation and teacher planning. Teachers lead their class communities through a cycle of observation, engagement and responsive, evolving development. Childrens play ideas are developed into ongoing, flexible but well-defined projects and activities. Assessment of childrens learning and development is a high priority, and is nested in this process of curriculum development and teacher-child partnership.

Personal growth and development The Little School believes that the Preschool years are the time for personal development. We view physical, social, emotional and cognitive challenges as golden opportunities for learning, and our curriculum is devoted to finding and tackling challenges together. We aim to instill a curious, confident outlook and a passion for solving problems be they spatial, intellectual or social. We believe that a passion for self-knowledge and self-acceptance forms the back bone of self-regulation and self-discipline. It all adds up to an ongoing journey of discovering what it means to be a member of a learning community.

Creative and effective pre-academic learning The Little Schools commitment to self-discovery and growth fits in perfectly with curriculum that fosters intellectual exploration and preparation for the academic setting. We provide a strong intellectual and academic foundation, grounded in self-directed exploration. at the Little School, we believe that building connections between play and learning, and discovering cognitive concepts within collaborative group projects is the ideal way for Preschoolers to move towards higher learning.

Joy, play, exploration and fun at The Little School, we aim for the highest standards of teacher training, skill, reflection and planning. We follow the latest research and ideas from the field of ECE in order to continually offer an educational experience of the highest quality. All of this serious work is ultimately in the service of an old-fashioned, down-to-earth goal: create a joyous environment where everyone has fun! Fun is the aim of everything we do, and we pride ourselves on how much fun we have together: learning to be with teachers and peers in a toddler classroom; negotiating challenging physical, cognitive or social adventure, or stretching ourselves to create art experiences. Fun comes from exciting materials, emerging friendships, even challenges or struggle. The Little School is ultimately a program that comes from the heart which we often reach by using our heads!


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