Serving Preschool Through 8th Grade in the San Francisco East Bay Since 1962


The Early Childhood program serves the youngest learners at the school and begins to build the foundation for what it means to be a lifelong learner. In the ECE program, we attend to the intellectual, physical, social, and emotional needs of each child. Our focus is on the development of the whole child through an environment that encourages inquiry, within a malleable process of learning. We instill positive values from the earliest age—integrity, cooperation, respect, and responsibility—and give students the skills to thrive in an evolving world.

The foundational structure of our ECE program is inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach and is considered inquiry-based. We hold and cultivate an image of children as competent, creative, curious, capable, caring, strong, and full of potential. Children are viewed as active constructors of knowledge and researchers who analyze their world with persistence and resilience. Instruction, therefore, takes place in the form of inquiries that give children opportunities to explore, observe, hypothesize, question, and discuss to clarify their understanding.

The curriculum is flexible and evolving based on children’s interests and development and features large spans of uninterrupted indoor/outdoor play, a variety of media including literature, art, music, movement, drama, and more. We take pride in valuing and nurturing the relationships that children have with each other, families, teachers, and the community. In the Seven Hills program play is highly valued and the environment is a powerful learning tool for young children. We see cooperation, conversations, risk-taking, experimentation, and joy as essential building blocks for academic learning.
The ECE program is based upon the following set of Reggio principles:
  • Each child will have some control over the direction of their learning.
  • Each child will have opportunities to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, and observing.
  • Each child will have a relationship with other children and with material items in the world that they will be allowed to explore.
  • Each child will have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves.
  • Each child’s environment and context is critical to learning success.
  • The teacher, parent, and child will work in collaboration to strengthen learning.
  • Inquiry is essential to a child’s engagement in learning.
  • Learning and play are not mutually exclusive.
  • Learning and thinking will be made visible to children and families through ongoing documentation.

Early Childhood Values and Beliefs

We believe that families are their child’s first teacher and are invested in their child’s learning. We value this relationship to better understand our children, open lines of communication, and have a reciprocal exchange of information.  
We believe that children deserve the opportunity to experience a variety of materials to understand their world, and to express their thoughts and ideas. Their role is to be capable, curious, and confident learners.
We believe that teachers are continually observing, learning, and collaborating alongside children. By developing relationships, teachers uncover and expand upon children’s natural curiosities. We value our opportunity to listen and reflect on children’s experiences, facilitating opportunities for them to delve into deeper thinking.
We believe that our program serves as the foundation for children to become lifelong learners. We value relationships as central to the learning process. We design curricula to embed key social/emotional and academic skills through language, mathematical reasoning, and scientific concepts. We offer children opportunities to create meaningful learning experiences through relationships with teachers and each other. Our curriculum follows the interests of children, building upon their questions and ideas, to move learning forward.
We believe that our environment fosters creative and divergent thinking, deepening each child’s opportunity for learning. We value indoor and outdoor spaces as places for exploration that meet the developmental needs of each child.
We believe that documentation is a visual narrative of children’s learning. It provides teachers and students an opportunity to reflect on their learning and provides families insight into their child’s experience and thinking.


The student-teacher ratio in both the Seven Hills Preschool and Pre-Kindergarten is 7:1.