Our program is open to children who are 2 years 9 months or older and operates year-round with most enrollment openings occurring in the early Fall. Children who are ready for our preschool do not need to be fully toilet trained.
We offer a full day program from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. five days a week. We also enroll part week positions 3 day (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Wednesday, Thursday, Friday) and 4 day (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday), depending upon requests and our overall enrollment needs. Extended care is offered and should be arranged with the director at any time throughout the year. Early care is 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. and late care is 5:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. We do not offer half-day programs. Gates & Bridges (IDC) is closed three separate times per year—two weeks for Winter break, one week for Spring break, and two weeks in August between the end of one school year and the beginning of the next. The center is also closed for Holidays throughout the year. The holiday schedule generally follows SFUSD’s schedule.
Over the last thirty five years, we sought to balance ingredients of a variety of early childhood education philosophies into an exemplary program. We believe that children need many opportunities to play, experience, explore, discover and practice in a safe, child-centered environment. We respect the child’s need for both nurturing and independence, quiet and active play, time alone and in group endeavors. We integrate a wide range of teaching philosophies into our program that includes the RIE methods, montessori and project based learning. We aim to provide opportunities for the children to participate in a variety of activities.
We care for only 16 children with a ratio of one teacher to six children, allowing opportunities for small groupings and individual attention. Our daily program includes language arts, dramatic play, art, music, tactile and sensory exploration, science/math, cooperative games, outdoor play, organized group times, meals together, and a rest/nap period. There are opportunities for both structured and spontaneous activities inside and outside.
We offer a planned, yet flexible, curriculum geared to the children’s common interests and growing competencies. Morning and afternoon activities are often centered around themes and interest topics. Much of the curriculum emerges out of play episodes, books, experiences and conversations that the children share with their teachers and each other. Teachers also encourage each child to pursue spontaneous and individual interests.
On a daily basis, there are structured events such as listening to stories, group singing, cooperative games or dramatic activities during “gathering time” and arts/craft, cooking or science projects. There is also time for a choice of child-initiated indoor and outdoor activities including materials for tactile and sensory explorations, puzzles, games, construction toys, dramatic play, sand and water play, riding tricycles and “sports”.
Meals are social times when children and staff eat, relax and talk. Daily morning snacks are prepared by the teachers and children and are included in the fees. Individual packed lunches are brought from home. Each family provides an afternoon snack on a rotating schedule. In this way, children have the opportunity to join in the preparation of a meal, eat familiar food from home at lunch and sample a diversity of foods from other families.
Our weekly program includes times for “Show and Tell”. There are also several classes directed by specialists: “Music and Movement”, “Soccer Shots“, and “It’s Yoga Kids!“. Field trips are scheduled throughout the year to take advantage of special events and local destinations. (Fees for non-optional program enrichment activities directed by specialists [e.g. “Soccer Shots”] are charged as a separate line item in the monthly tuition statement in addition to the monthly tuition. Additional fees for special events or special field trips may also be charged and billed separately on the monthly tuition statement.)
Providing consistency and continuity within the children’s peers, the staff, and the routine are important features of our program. Through their interactions with each other, children develop the social skills that enable them to function well in a group setting. The children develop listening and sharing skills, respect for each other and learn to solve conflicts, with teacher guidance. The small group size and maintenance of peer groups through the year provide the ideal environment for continued development of these skills. In addition, they learn to follow prescribed routines and acceptable modes of behavior during structured activities such as circle time, meals and rest period.
The child’s last year in the preschool program involves preparation for leaving the preschool and moving on to kindergarten. Teachers assist children and parents in a variety of areas that will facilitate a smooth transition.
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