Noe Valley Voice May 2003

A Potpourri of Preschools

By Stephanie Rapp

It is that time of year again. Children may be thinking about summer vacation, but for many parents of toddlers, thoughts are on preschools and daycare programs for next fall.

To lend families a hand in their search, the Voice conducted a survey in April by sending a written questionnaire to local providers. The results, which are printed below (in reverse alphabetical order), show the eclectic variety of preschool and daycare facilities operating in and around Noe Valley. We are grateful to the providers who took the time to respond to our survey. In most cases, their answers have been left in their own words.

Of course, many Noe Valley parents may choose day care based upon where they work, and therefore may select schools in other neighborhoods. But it's good to know what is available in our own back yard. (If we left out a school or service provider, please let us know and we will include you in a future issue.)

Little People's Workshop

1268 Sanchez Street at Clipper Street

Jonnie Sharp, New Member Coordinator

415-215-1581 or

Little People's Workshop is a parent-run and parent-staffed daycare cooperative. Founded in 1975 by a group of Bernal Heights parents seeking affordable day care, the co-op moved to Noe Valley in 1998. It operates out of Bethany United Methodist Church at the corner of Sanchez and Clipper streets, although it is not religiously affiliated with the church. The preschool has six rooms, used for crafts, reading, playing, and napping. A teacher is on staff every day. There's also a gymnasium where kids can ride toy cars and tricycles and fly in a parachute. Lunches and snacks are prepared in an onsite kitchen. Daily outings include visits to Douglass Park and the Noe Valley Library. Favorite destinations for once-a-month field trips are the San Francisco Zoo and Steinhart Aquarium.

Program Hours: Hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Slots are available for two to four days per week.

Ratio of Childcare Providers to Children: A teacher is on staff every morning with two parents (ratio 3:8). In the afternoons, there are two parents and eight kids (2:8).

Age and Special Requirements: Children range in age from 18 months to 3 years. There are no potty training requirements. Jonnie Sharp: "It's actually a great place to learn potty training--there is a lot of positive peer pressure from the other kids."

Total Enrollment: There are never more than eight kids attending on any one day. "Currently, we have 15 families in our coop, but have openings for new members right now."

Application and Acceptance Requirements: Interested parents come for two separate visits and stay the morning so they can meet all the co-op members and get a sense of the program. Once parents submit an application, existing co-op members vote on new members at a bimonthly meeting.

Program Cost: The cost ranges from $200 to $400 per month ($25 per day).

Years in Business: 28 years

Parent Involvement: Parents are required to work one four-hour shift for every two days that their child attends. There are bimonthly meetings, and each parent has a job within the cooperative.

School Philosophy: Little People's Workshop is dedicated to providing high-quality child care in a non-classist, non-sexist, non-racist, non-authoritarian child-oriented atmosphere. We emphasize good nutrition, positive learning experiences, and unconditional nurturing for each child. It is our belief that the participatory nature of cooperative child care allows for an experience that is more diverse, nurturing, and responsive than traditional "private" child care.

With Care

50 Fair Oaks Street between 21st and 22nd streets

Kathleen Albert, Director


This program is located in a private home, and has two large playrooms and a kitchen. Although there is no outdoor play area, children go for walks or to the park each day.

Program Hours: Hours are flexible, but basic day care is 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and preschool hours are 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Friday is drop-in day.

Age and Special Requirements: Children must be 3 years old before Sept. 1, but do not have to be potty trained.

Total Enrollment: 6 children in day care; 4 children currently in preschool

Program Cost: The cost per month depends upon the number of hours.

Years in Business: 14

Parent Involvement: Parent involvement is not required.

Program Philosophy: I provide an atmosphere that encourages individual growth, plus a non-judgmental attitude, and I accept children from a variety of traditional and non-traditional homes. Music, arts and crafts, academic outings, quiet time, and free play are just a small part of the rich daily environment.

Treehouse Preschool

75 Fountain Street between 24th & 25th and Hoffman & Grand View

Suzy Williams, Director


Treehouse operates from a four-room private home with a four-level outdoor play area. Equipment includes a swing set, slide, climbing structure, cars, bikes, and basketball hoop.

Program Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., or 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Ratio of Childcare Providers to Children: 1 to 4 in the mornings; 1 to 5 in the afternoons

Age and Special Requirements: We start at age 2. Children do not need to be potty trained.

Total Enrollment: 18 children enrolled, including children with full-time (5 days/week) and part-time (3 or 4 days/week) schedules

Application and Acceptance Requirements: Call in September to make an appointment to tour and apply for the following September. Tours and applications accepted from September through February for the following school year. Acceptance is based on schedule requirements, and an attempt to balance ages and sexes.

Program Cost: 5 days is $1,010/month; 4 days is $915; 3 days is $795. Fees for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. schedule are somewhat lower.

Years in Business: 9 years

Parent Involvement: Parents attend field trips, family potlucks, and some parties, and share special skills with children, on an informal basis.

Program's Philosophy: Ours is a loosely structured program with an emphasis on social learning through play. Activities are provided throughout the day including art, dance, music, storytelling/dramatic art, and Spanish.

Theresa S. Mahler Child Development Center

990 Church Street at Hill Street

Marie Salgado, Site Manager


This center is part of the San Francisco Unified School District. It is one of 37 centers funded through the state Department of Education. It houses three preschool classrooms (one is for Special Education children). A large outdoor play area in the back contains two play structures, a large sandbox, and a variety of tricycles.

Program Hours: The program is open year-round, Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Hours of enrollment depend on the needs of the family.

Ratio of Childcare Providers to Children: 1 to 8. Group size is 24 children, and there is one teacher for each group.

Age and Special Requirements: Children must be 3 years old and potty trained. Parents must meet eligibility requirements for subsidized programs, or be in training, incapacitated, or seeking employment.

Total Enrollment: 48 students

Application and Acceptance Requirements: Families apply through the SFUSD Child Development Program, 20 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118; or call 750-8500.

Program Cost: Fees are based on a sliding scale, but range from $1 to $10.50 per day.

Years in Business: 60 years. This is one of the original Latham buildings, built to care for the children of women working in World War II war industries.

Parent Involvement: We have a very active parent group that meets monthly. This year, they have been involved in creating and maintaining the school's garden. Parents make valuable contributions to our program as decision-makers and volunteers.

Program Philosophy: Our mission is to provide early childhood education programs in a safe, caring, and nurturing environment that promotes each child's social, emotional, and physical growth. We strive to validate the cultural and linguistic heritage of each child.

Noe Valley Nursery School

1021 Sanchez Street at 23rd Street

Nina Youkelson, Director


This preschool is a non-profit parent cooperative, with parents and families actively involved in the school's operations. Located in three large rooms on the ground floor of the Noe Valley Ministry, the school also has a small outdoor play area.

Program Hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Some extended hours are available. Parents get together and provide some extended care in the afternoons.

Ratio of Childcare Providers to Children: 7 adults to 24 children

Age and Special Requirements: Children must be 21/2 years old. Potty training is not required.

Total Enrollment: 30 families, 24 children per day

Application and Acceptance Requirements: Come visit the school. No appointment necessary. Our policy is first-come, first-served, but priority is given to currently enrolled families, alumni, and people of color.

Program Cost: 5 days per week is $184/month; 4 days $150/month; 3 days $115/month.

Years in Business: 34 years

Parent Involvement: Parents are actively involved in the school. Six parents come work each day. They also serve on the board of directors, attend meetings, and raise funds. They give lots of time, and get a tremendous amount in return.

School Philosophy: We are a healthy, happy place for children and their families. This is a place where children take the love they have for their own parents and extend it to other children's parents, and where parents take the love they have for their own children and extend it to other people's children. How wonderful!

ST. Paul's Littlest Angel Preparatory Preschool

(St. Paul's Parish Preschool)

221 Valley Street between Church & Sanchez and 28th & 29th streets

Peg Lazzarini-Kayser, Director


This three-room preschool is located behind St. Paul's Church on the lower level of the Rectory. Take the Valley Street stairs and follow the yellow brick road to the front door. The school offers a stage area for dramatic play, blocks, arts and crafts, and a computer lab. An outdoor play area includes Bikes-go-round, a climbing train, climbing truck, small slide, balls, basketball hoop, and a housekeeping area.

Program Hours: Weekdays, 9 a.m. to noon, or 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Extended hours are available from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at no additional cost.

Ratio of Childcare Providers to Children: 1 adult to 6 to 8 children

Age and Special Requirements: Children are 2 years 9 months through 6 years old. They must be potty trained, drinking from a cup (no baby bottles), and no pacifiers, please.

Total Enrollment: 38 children per day

Application and Acceptance Requirements: Parents are invited to tour the preschool on the third Thursday of the month at 10 a.m. or 4 p.m. No appointment is necessary (except on Holy Thursday in December).

Program Cost: Schedules start at 2 half days and go up to 5 full days. Costs run $425 to $725 per month. Other costs include an application fee ($35), registration fee ($150), and a uniform jacket ($30).

Years in Business: 15 years. At this location since 1994.

Parent Involvement: Parents are welcomed and appreciated on all field trips. Parents also use their talents to continually enhance the curriculum, ambience, and safety of the children and the preschool.

School Philosophy: St. Paul's Littlest Angel Preparatory Preschool provides a caring, safe, and stimulating environment for the children of our community and surrounding communities. We recognize that parents are the primary educators of their children and dedicate ourselves to the support of home and family. We seek to develop high self-esteem, as well as to encourage optimum growth in the spiritual, social, cognitive, physical, and emotional areas. We assist the child in developing his or her potential in an environment of affection, encouragement, and a balance of structured time and playtime.

Eureka Learning Center

464 Diamond Street at 22nd Street

551 Eureka Street at 23rd Street

Leslie Banta, Director

415-821-3422 or 415-648-0380

Eureka Learning Center has two sites, both located in private homes with outdoor play areas. The Diamond Street site is a two-level house with an upstairs kindergarten and a downstairs preschool. Each floor has three rooms: a kitchen, an art room, and a room for "manipulatives" and toys. The Eureka Street site, which is a preschool only, has a large open space, with cooking, play, and art areas. Both sites offer a fully equipped indoor preschool environment, with outdoor climbing structures, sandboxes, gardening, woodworking, blocks, and art tables.

Program Hours: Half day (preschool only), 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Full day, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Eight a.m. "early arrival" is available.

Ratio of Childcare Providers to Children: 1 to 5 in the preschool; 1 to 8 in the transitional kindergarten

Age and Special Requirements: A limited number of children start at age 2.8. Potty training is not required.

Total Enrollment: 46. There are 15 children in each preschool class; and 16 children in a transitional kindergarten class (at Diamond Street only).

Application and Acceptance Requirements: Call for an application packet to apply to the school and get on our very long waiting list. When spaces become available, tours are offered to those on the waiting list, on a first-come, first-served basis. Spaces are filled with respect to balancing gender, age, and schedule. No other personal selection is done. We accept applications to the transitional kindergarten (after tours are given) a year prior to the child's eligibility.

Program Cost: Half-day program is $550/month. Full-day program is $675/month. Transitional kindergarten is $650/month.

Years in Business: 20 years

Parent Involvement: We have an open-door policy for parents to participate and be involved in the school. Communication with families is required.

School Philosophy: The program emphasizes the emotional growth of children by offering a warm and flexible environment that can facilitate the development of social and cognitive competence and accommodate individual needs. Parent services are provided in an effort to strengthen families and to establish a mutual support system with parents for the child.

Children's Day School

333 Dolores Street at 16th Street

Rick Ackerly, Headmaster

Aimee Giles, Director of Admissions


Children's Day School (CDS) is located in a large building on 1.2 acres of land. It features 11 sunny classrooms, plus a music room and library. A farm with chickens and other animals and an organic garden are located on the lot, which is also equipped with swings, a climbing structure, slides, a sandbox, bikes, and a basketball court. CDS currently offers classes from preschool through fifth grade; it will expand into middle school in 2003.

Program Hours: The school opens at 8 a.m. An extended program is available from dismissal to 6 p.m. Preschool hours are 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; kindergarten, 8:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.; and grades 1 to 8, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Ratio of Childcare Providers to Children: 1 adult to 8 children

Age and Special Requirements: Children need to be 3 years old and able to use the bathroom on their own by September to enroll at CDS.

Total Enrollment: 170-190

Application and Acceptance Requirements: Families take a school tour and submit an application in the fall prior to the year their child is eligible to enroll (we do not maintain a waiting list). We are looking for children who love to learn and for families excited about our unique approach to learning. Ultimately, we want to ensure that the parent's and the school's expectations match.

Program Cost: We have sliding-scale tuition. Our 2003-2004 tuition ranges from $133/month to $1,328/month.

Years in Business: 20 years

Parent Involvement: It is our heartfelt belief that the vitality of our community depends on the active participation of everyone in it. The reciprocal involvement of the families in the school, and the school with the families, enriches the classroom and greatly benefits the children. Parents participate by acting in partnership with teachers, donating time to the best of their ability, and offering financial support to the best of their ability.

School Philosophy: CDS excels as a community of learners comprised of students, educators, and parents who envision a better kind of learning and who possess the passion and the skills to shape and continually grow the school. Our project-based academic program actively engages children in the process of learning, challenges them intellectually, and develops their sense of social responsibility. Dedicated, inspired classroom and specialist teachers collaborate to integrate art, music, Spanish, physical education, and environmental education into the curriculum.