Our Foundation: Relationship-Based Learning
The Little School is a private non-profit preschool founded to provide young children in San Francisco with a developmental, child-centered preschool experience. The Little School is committed to providing individualized, quality attention to children, parents, and staff. As an institution, we are committed to helping each part of our community grow in their ability to communicate and respect one another.
The Little School recognizes three pillars as our guiding principles: inclusion, diversity, and high quality early childhood education. Within these pillars, we honor relationships as the foundation for all learning and growth, both in children and adults. Our nationally recognized philosophy – that relationships are the key to learning and that each child thrives from individualized attention and care – is not just an idea. The authentic, joyous relationships at the heart of our program open up a world of exploration to preschoolers. Through this collaborative lens, children acquire the basic building blocks of life-long learning: joy, curiosity, connections, and a deep understanding of who they are.
A strong teacher-child relationship allows a child to feel known, loved, and safe. To build that supportive relationship, teachers actively engage with children in child-directed play, care-giving, and teacher-inspired activities. As teachers engage, we learn about a child’s preferences, strengths, challenges, learning styles, and interests, allowing us to give just the right kind of guidance, care, and support. The bonds teachers and children form are vibrant, warm and enduring—children come back to visit their teachers years after they graduate.
Little School teachers devote mindful attention to supporting a child’s process of building satisfying relationships with peers. It takes time and experience to learn to be a good friend and community member. We believe that children have natural social skills, and that, sometimes, they can also benefit from adult guidance and support.
We take seriously strong family-school partnerships. Families have deep expertise about their own children; educators have broad expertise about lots of children. Teachers communicate informally with families daily, and also use email and phone conversations for frequent check-ins and class updates. Conferences are scheduled twice a year, or as often as families and teachers desire.
Life-long connections grow out of the LS community. We nurture these relationships by maintaining alumni class events, meetings and other school gatherings. This partnership extends to cooperative caring of the school. Families make up our Board of Trustees, substitute in our classrooms, and otherwise contribute their strengths to the program. We rely upon families to help us address core questions of education and community, and we provide time for faculty and families to learn together.