Program : Curriculum



Children are natural learners. They are inherently inquisitive and learn about the world by exploring, investigating, and discovering their environment, within rich meaningful interactions with peers and adults. Indoor activities may include exploring with blocks, dramatic play, painting, play dough, puzzles, sculpture, mark-making, inquiry, exploring the natural spaces within the Presidio, etc. Each day the children will engage in gross motor activities both inside and outside. Teachers and parents actively observe and document the children’s learning and play processes throughout the entire day. Adults support children by building nurturing relationships with each child; encouraging empathy and compassion; encouraging them to express themselves and integrate the perspectives of others; offering meaningful prompts,  provocations, and asking meaningful questions to deepen thinking and relationships.

Relational Learning

Through play and interaction with peers and adults, children develop social skills and competence. Children learn to express themselves, problem solve, think critically, take turns, share and build self-esteem. In addition, the content rich environment and secure relationships provide the children with opportunities to develop self-help skills such as dressing themselves and using the bathroom. Increased mastery of things in the environment and interactions with others enhances the child’s self-esteem.

Language and Literacy Experiences

During the early years of a child’s life  language development is continuous and occurs through interaction with materials, the environment, play, stories, inquiry, music, and relationships. At CHS we focus on the children’s natural curiosity to encourage enjoyment and exploration of literature and mark-making. Child-initiated and teacher supported language and literacy experiences stimulate imagination, teach sound/symbol correspondence, develop an awareness of the relationship of written and spoken language, and help to develop decoding skills. Stories are read at circle time and throughout the day, every day.

Artistic Experiences, Representations and Exploration

CHS’s approach to creating is very intentional and thoughtful, and is guided by stages and developmental age. We are careful not to emphasize product at the expense of process, so as not to sacrifice creativity, imagination and inspiration. This process is valued, acknowledged, nurtured and celebrated. At all ages, their exposure to art is related to their learning experiences; because the children make connections to a project, their learning is visible within a context and becomes meaningful to them.

Initially, the children are presented with materials to explore; the focus is on the experience (sensory, exposure to materials, collaboration) and is less representational (not focused on the end product). Then teachers will interact with questions and observations (What do you notice? Tell me about that color you chose. I see you took materials from the other table to add to what you’re doing here.). Next, the children can take these experiences and learn about technique: color, proportion, line, composition, balance, space, shape, etc. Learning technique gives the children tools to use to express their ideas. The teachers guide the children as they learn to “see” by playing with materials, appreciating nature, interacting with teachers and parents, visiting museums,  and working individually and collaboratively.

Music and Movement

The music portion of our program is joyful and used to help children develop rhythm, tone coordination, auditory discrimination and memory. During this time, we sing, learn new songs, and provide an opportunity for the children to share in a joyful group setting. Singing and sitting together reminds us daily of our community, our many friends and our school. Additionally, the children have the opportunity to engage in movement activities including sensory integration activities, tumbling, dancing, and group games. The objectives of the movement activities are to help children develop large muscle skills, body integration, self-regulation, and safe and fun physical self-expression.

Outdoor Experiences, Exploration and Discovery

At CHS we believe children have the right to a nurturing, safe, stimulating and authentic environment in which to grow, build relationships and make connections to the world around them. Children are dynamic, curious and extremely capable learners inside and outside of the classroom. Young children interpret, read and represent the world with all of their senses. As natural born scientists and explorers, children are drawn to the outdoor environment for the rich, authentic and sensorial opportunities, and endless potential for inquiry and discovery.

At CHS, the teachers guide children as they “learn to see” the beauty and drama of the natural world so that they my gain an appreciation for, and develop a relationship with, nature beyond the houseplant and sandbox. While in collaboration with teachers and parents, children develop limits and boundaries for staying safe, but there is no limit to what the imagination can do out there, or how the senses are stimulated. An outdoor space is not crafted, organized and created the same ways as an indoor space. Outside, children sense the wild, ever-changing qualities of the outdoors. There is no “right way” to play outside, use the given terrain, touch natures’ loose parts, take in scents and sounds. A trip to Crissy Field, a nature hunt for shapes, a tree investigation, the discovery of a sow bug in dirt, overturning a stump, impromptu trash pick-up with a discussion of what belongs in nature/what doesn’t are experiences that honor the child’s sense of wonder, curiosity, and belonging.

Sense of Place

CHS’s learning and play environment exposes children to the necessary tools that inspire, provoke and foster inquiry and critical thinking. With support from the teachers and parents, the children can explore and make discoveries at their own pace and according to individual interests. Carefully planned stations encourage reasoning, inspire and provoke theories, and help children recognize patterns and relationships that they may have intuitively observed. Overall, the accepting environment which CHS provides strives to foster cognitive, social-emotional and physical comfort and competence for a life-long love of learning.

Symbolic and Dramatic Expressions

Through symbolic and dramatic play children experiment with different roles and personalities. We provide a variety of costumes, props, puppets, dolls, and fantasy environments for the children to use for improvisation, exploration and creation.


CHS dedicates a significant amount of time each day to expanding upon the children’s inquiries and theories. Children are encouraged to think deeply, ask questions, and explore materials and activities. Children may be guided to work collaboratively or individually. The ongoing process is documented, studied and valued. For an example of a project, please read about  Sam & Tiger Project