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At Cow Hollow School our social constructivist approach to early education acts as both lens and guide for designing curriculum, spaces and experiences that honors children and childhood. Our inquiry focused curriculum places value on the thinking, exploration, play, investigations, relationships and theories of the young learner.  Through rich, learner centered experiences, it  is our goal to cultivate curiosity, critical thinking, stewardship, social responsibility and a lifelong love of learning.

The activities, resources, and interactions within the classroom and out are organized to provide children with  routines and rituals, while at the same time, challenging each child to reach his/her potential as a learner, producer, listener,  and participant within a diverse community of children and adults.


Our Guiding Principles and belief that all children are capable and competent demands that we honor the thinking, questions, theories, and ideas of the young learner. Children, from birth, are asking questions about the world around them, the people within it and wondering who, how and why everything is the way it is. Inquiry based learning is the structure we use to design experiences, set up materials, our environment, and organize interactions to make room for children’s wonderful ideas and to respect their contributions. 

Cow Hollow School’s approach to children’s learning has grown out of our deep questions about the nature of children in education. Through inquiry work we address the questions; how do we teach to a room full of different temperaments, approaches to learning, and dispositions? How do we place value on who children are and what they think and feel? How do we recognize and celebrate their competencies? How do we make visible, their feelings, thoughts, and experiences? We have come to know that when we understand how to acknowledge the rights of children we are then able to co-create a curriculum to educate and inspire. Through children’s investigations, explorations, and discovery we learn that children create understanding, not through opposites or being told, but in a continuum of experiences that builds, provokes, and reveals. The children’s inquiries represent beauty, intelligence, creativity, respect for the world and emphasis on the quality of life.

The goals of inquiry work are to create a school culture in which:

  • Parents, students and teachers are all learners
  • Students see themselves as thinkers
  • Everyday acts of teaching and learning lead to thinking
  • Process is valued, acknowledged, nurtured and celebrated
  • We uncover a topic in a way that raises questions and asks learners to think critically
  • Collaboration is valued
  • We practice a pedagogy of listening
  • Children grow up without sacrificing their present, their childhood

Through inquiry work the children are pushed to ask themselves:

  • What kind of world is this? (Perception)
  • What does it remind me of? (Reflection)
  • Who creates, produces, and witnesses this process? (Who and What)

The role of the adult within inquiry work:

  • Bridge – to new knowledge, informal and formal knowledge, to interactions, prior and new experiences, to representations
  • Witness – observe and articulate beliefs, perceptions, and competencies both personal and collective
  • Mediator – create structure and direction

Daily Routine

A child’s day at CHS will include some or all of these activities:


Teachers and teaching parents supervise the drop-off process and help children transition from home to school.

Circle Time

At the beginning of each day the children gather with the teachers and teaching parents to greet one another and share in a group experience that may include conversation about the encounters and experiences from the preceding days, information about projects and daily activities, a story, and/or a song. At circle we remember, share, reflect, offer and establish meaning together. Circle time for the older children can last as long as 30 to 40 minutes. The children pose problems to the community and collaborate on potential solutions and mutual understanding. Parents are encouraged to join and share with the children at this time.

Creative Art Activities

A variety of rich and authentic materials such as paints, scissors, shells, wood, fabric, clay, collage materials of interesting color, size and texture are available. Children are encouraged, but not required, to participate in the planned activities.

Choices and Classroom Exploration

Children explore the classroom, continue previously started projects and work in small and/or large groups. The structure of activities, resources, and interactions within the classroom are organized in such a way to provide children with comfortable and familiar routines, yet at the same time, there is an emphasis on play and child-initiated projects.


The snack is intended to provide, in addition to wholesome nourishment, an opportunity for children and adults to gather together.

Movement / Outside Play

Children engage in active play, movement activities and dance, both outdoors and inside the school. Children choose from a variety of equipment such as tumble mats, tunnels, balance beams, push toys, balls and sensory play.


CHS employs an outside Music Specialist to introduce instruments, rhythm, patterns in music, and songs to the children.

Enrichment Activities

During the course of the school year we will have various guests, programs and fieldtrips connected to the children’s project work.


The teachers and teaching parents supervise after-school pickup.

Parent Participation Commitments

As members of the CHS community parents make a commitment to attend 5 enrichment events per year. For the 1st and 2nd year at CHS, the mandatory events include the following: Back to School Night, both By-Class Roundtables (one in the fall and one in the spring), R.E.A.L. Parenting and Teaching presentation, and 3 hours of Flexible Family Participation Requirement. For the 3rd year and beyond, to meet your 5 enrichment events requirement, you may substitute the R.E.A.L. Parenting and Teaching presentation for Flex time, a COLLABORATORY seminar, or an Innovative Teachers Project Faculty Presentation (or attend R.E.A.L. Parenting again). CLICK HERE for more descriptions of events and commitments.


CHS believes strongly in the benefits for young children of connecting school and home experiences. The following list highlights our commitment to bridging what happens inside the school to what happens outside the school, at home.

Parent/Teacher Enrichment Series

Workshops are offered to parents and teachers for the purpose of collaboratively reflecting, discussing, and learning about parenting, teaching, childhood, and children. Topics may include values based parenting and teaching, children as citizens, and storytelling and building community. Click here to see schedule open to the public.

Round Table Discussion

These parent teacher discussion groups occur two times per class, per year. Historically, the teachers and families of the class choose a topic in advance. During the discussion participants are involved in a co-inquiry process to delve deeper, uncover, discover, understand a problem, a concern, an area of development, a piece of a project, etc.

All Family Celebrations

The spirit of togetherness enriches a community. The purpose of any All-Family Celebration is to provide a time and space when the entire school community can come together in the sharing of food, cultural experience, and memory-making.

Classroom Journals

Online daily posts and monthly journals  for each class are written by each teaching team. They include description of process and inquiry, core concepts, special discoveries, the voice of the child, teacher rationale, and often the voice of the teaching parent. Reading the journals with children acts as a bridge from school to home and as a memory tool for your child’s meaningful experiences.

Documentation of Process

Gathering, organizing and presenting inquiry work and the children’s experiences provides opportunities for children, parents, and teachers to revisit, re-interpret, and build upon experiences, emphasizing the process of creating and making visible the competencies of all learners.

Home Visits

As a way to help children transition from home to school for the first time or at the beginning of the year the teachers offer to visit your home, at your convenience, to meet your child, discuss routines and get to know your family. Home visits are a casual, short visit in the child’s safe space, their home. Visits typically last 30-40 minutes. Some children like to show us their room, sometimes we play, sometimes a child prefers to observe while grownups chat, sometimes children hide, and however it unfolds is meaningful. Most importantly, this is a chance for the child to see the parent welcoming their new teacher into the home, to begin to recognize that we are safe people who their parents trust. Building that relationship before school even starts makes the transition into the new school year all the more comfortable for them.

Family Culture Share

In each classroom we have a sacred space dedicated to sharing and learning about each child’s unique family. The Family Culture Share Shelf helps to make visible our commitment to supporting and celebrating family, difference and  the young child’s developing sense of identity, the journey that all children and adults take in learning that we’re all alike and we’re all different. For young children, this understanding is rooted in the core of their world: their family.

Family Books

The summer prior to starting at Cow Hollow School each family will be given Family Book pages to fill out and adorn with images, artifacts, and family stories and values. The Family Book stays at school during your child’s school experience (growing and changing every year) and acts as a tool for adults and children to make important connections and build relationships to your child. It is used to promote memory, as a historical reference, and to encourage shared meaning making and compassion. The Family Books are shared among the adults in each class at the Family Teas at the beginning of the school year.


Cow Hollow School is once again, delighted to offer our Summer School. The CHS Summer School is full of opportunities for wonder, play, discovery, creativity and exploration.

Cow Hollow School Summer Program 2020:

Program Hours

9:00am to 2:00 pmMonday – Friday

Age Cut-off

Available to children 3 by July 1– 5.9 years of age. Due to our license regulations we cannot have children over 5.9 years of age by the first day of each session.


Age grouping will be determined after enrollment. CHS prides itself on low teacher to child ratios. This will continue throughout the summer program. It is our goal, when possible, to have to have your child experience learning and playing with at least one of his/her fall teachers and some of his/her class members. Non-school year families attending the CHS summer program will be kept with children in their initial grouping.

  • Hummingbirds: young 3s
  • Robins: 3-5 years old
  • Red Tail Hawks: 4-5.9 years old

Program Sessions

To encourage the same rich relationships based learning we will have one 2 week session and one 3 week session.


It is our goal, when possible, to have your child experience learning and playing with at least one of his/her fall teachers and some of his/her class members. Non-school year families attending in summer will be kept with children in their initial grouping.

Parent Participation

Although part of our school year program, parent participation is not required for our Summer Program…but is always welcome!

Snacks and Meals

Program tuition will include lunch and snack. Snack will be provided by Cow Hollow School. The Lunch Program will once again be offered through SchoolFoodies (balanced, organic, and preservative free food).

“I love how you have created different themes in the various segments and put so much richness into the children’s days. I really like how you inspire the children’s process. We are noticing at home that Amalia is really into ‘making things’ and ‘building things.’ It’s wonderful!” 

Summer 2020

Session 1: June 29-July 17 (3 weeks) (3th of July, CLOSED)
Session 2: July 20-July 31 (2 weeks)

Important Dates

  • January 31Enrollment opens online to the public
  • May 15: Tuition is non-refundable after this date

Tuition, enrollment and other details

  • One 2-week session- $1,250.00
  • One 3-week sessions- $1,875.00
  • Entire Summer Program (2 sessions, 5 weeks)- $3,125.00
    • You will be contacted via e-mail to confirm your enrollment sessions and request payment.
    • Tuition is non refundable after May 15th.
    • We will provide you details of each session once we have completed enrollment
    • Lunch will be provided through SchoolFoodies for both sessions.

Session Curriculum

Over the course of the summer the children will participate in a curriculum that invites them to explore their creative, critical and expressive languages. Curriculum opportunities may include:

  • Nature Explorers: During this three-week session our senses will come alive as we explore and investigate the outdoors. Children will play in our forest area and nearby Presidio landmarks such as The Woodline, The Spire and The Ecology Trail. The children will smell the flowers, touch the little creatures buried under rocks, observe birds flying, and listen to the wind while they play underneath the trees. The children will also help in the school’s garden by planting new sprouts and harvesting a bountiful array of vegetables and herbs.  They will work closely with the teachers in planning out yummy treats, meals and even deserts for their group to enjoy.

Offered: Session 1 (Hummingbirds, Robins, and Red Tail Hawks)

  • Magic Trash: In this two week session, children will use recyclable materials to create their own fantastic sculptures. During the first week, children will openly explore and test out a variety of materials in the Recyclable Material Store that will reflect the designs they made. Trips to the Thoreau Center or The Recology Center (in The Presidio) to see artists who also use recyclable materials will bridge the work done by these artists to their own work.  Working closely with their teachers, children will joyfully create their own masterpieces that represents their imaginative spirits.

Offered: Session 2 (Hummingbirds, Robins, and Red Tail Hawks)


For any questions, please email: [email protected] (Summer Program Director)


It is our mission to honor and nurture a diverse community of children to reach their potential as learners, participants, stewards and critical thinkers in society.

It is our goal to empower those in the presence of children with knowledge, skills and resources to raise and teach children with respect and dignity.


  • Baby Talk is a program designed to:
    • Bring visibility to the subtle and copious ways babies communicate with the world around them
    • Help parents take notice of the nuances of how their child communicates
    • Connect parents to each other, and Master early childhood educator, Molly Sosnaud
    • Each week will have a topic for discussion and accompanying handout with resources
  • Baby Talk emphasizes the following of the Cow Hollow School Guiding Principles:
    • Every child is capable and competent
    • Children learn through play, investigation, inquiry and exploration
    • Children and adults learn and play in reciprocal relationships with peers, family members, and teachers
    • Teachers and parents recognize the many ways in which children approach learning and relationships, express themselves, and represent what they are coming to know
    • Process is valued, acknowledged, supported, nurtured and studied
    • The indoor and outdoor environments, and natural spaces, transform, inform, and provoke thinking and learning


One parent and your baby (ages 3-18 months), 4-5 babies per group

*Participation in BabyTalk does not guarantee admission to the school when the child is age eligible. Nor is it a requirement for admission.


You are looking to parent from your values and according to the clues and cues your baby is giving you. You are investing in yourself, your family and to parenting healthfully.


Summer 2020 dates to be determined


Cow Hollow School, Nest Classroom, 65 Funston Ave, SF (in the Presidio)