The Curious Caterpillar aims to provide a safe and nurturing environment akin to a chrysalis where young children can transform into beautiful butterflies ready to spread their wings and fly.
We are a play based preschool guided by many different early childhood philosophies. We believe in a research based approach to early childhood education. We believe that secure attachment to caregivers is central to the success of every child. As a Family Child Care Home with a teacher ratio that never exceeds 3:1 we are able to give each child focused attention, develop deep bonds, and offer the perfect balance between a home and a school. We believe in positive discipline, developmentally appropriate practice, small teacher to student ratios, and educating the whole child. We believe that young children crave and need time outdoors in nature, and we try to provide as many connections to the natural world as we can on a daily basis. We believe that parents are the experts on their child, but that it truly takes a village… and we want to partner with parents to provide what each individual child needs to grow and succeed. We understand that transitions are difficult for young children and we support gentle transitions for children who may be more apprehensive of parent departures. We believe that children who feel safe and cared for will naturally explore their environment and develop the skills they need to become happy, healthy, successful people.
Our goal is to give your child the tools needed to become successful, kind, and well-rounded people. We focus on social and emotional development above all else. We believe that it is essential that toddlers and preschoolers learn how to express emotions in a healthy way and that social and emotional skills are the most important part of the development of young children.
How to join the Curious Caterpillar community:
1. Learn about our Program
We’ve provided basic information about our philosophies and offerings on our website to help you decide if our program might be right for your family. Please feel free to email our director and head teacher Erin Rhyne if you have questions or concerns you would like to discuss! email@example.com
2. Schedule a Tour or Attend an Event
Sign up for a tour or RSVP for an event on our website or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you feel that our program could be a good fit for your family, please fill out an application: http://www.wonderschool.com/curiouscaterpillar/apply
4. Play Date
If we believe that your child will fit well in our program we will ask you to bring your child in for a play date! If we do not currently have a space available for your child, we may offer your child a spot on our waitlist.
Parkmerced is one of the largest rental properties in the United States. Built in the 1940’s to accommodate the rising demand for housing during and after World War 2, it consists of 11 towers and a multitude of townhouses surrounded by green spaces. Parkmerced is surrounded by Lake Merced to the West, San Francisco State University to the North, the San Francisco Golf Club to the South and the Oceanview and Ingleside neighborhoods to the East. 750 Gonzalez is one of four apartment towers situated on the four corners of Villa Merced Park, a newly renovated green space with a brand new fenced playground, sand volleyball courts, a community garden, and other community amenities. Our toddlers will utilize this fenced playground on a daily basis. 750 Gonzalez is a newly renovated tower and our preschool is located in a newly renovated unit on the second floor of the building. Our preschool features a wall of windows that bathe our school in sunlight and allow our toddlers to feel as if they have a connection to the outdoors even when they are in the classroom.
Our curriculum is play based and developmentally appropriate. We use bi-weekly themes to guide our activities and create opportunities for authentic natural learning to take place. We have regular family field trips on weekends where we invite our families to experience real life authentic experiences that connect to what our children are learning in the classroom. Our learning centers provide varied experiences prompted by the environment in areas such as early literacy, early STEM skills, process art, music, gross and fine motor skills, and sensory integration. We incorporate American Sign Language into our communication with children to build a language bridge to speech.
Apples: An Example of Our Curriculum
To begin our two week Apple theme in September we invite our families to a real apple orchard to pick apples, explore, eat, and play. Our parents get an opportunity to spend time with the other families in our school and the children gain real authentic life experiences that their play for the next two weeks will expand upon. For the next two weeks our classroom is equipped with an apple tree felt board so that children can re-enact picking apples from trees. We print a photo book with photos from our family field trip so that children can look through the photos to remember what they experienced and make connections. We read lots of books about apples and apple orchards. We taste different types of apples, cut them with different tools, discuss all the characteristics of apples, and explore all of our senses. We count how many seeds are in each of the apples we cut and discuss the colors and shapes. We talk about the life cycle of an apple and how seeds turn into trees and flowers turn into fruit. We use apples and paint to create stamp printing works of art. We use the apples that we picked at the orchard to make our own apple butter which we jar and send home to each family. We also use those apples to bake apple cinnamon scones together as a class. We put apples in a tub of water to determine if they sink or float, and we scrub our apples clean with toothbrushes. We use apple pie playdough full of cinnamon to make pretend apple pies and to add an extra sensory element to our early literacy explorations. We do all of these things in a manner that is child led and developmentally appropriate, catching moments of intrigue in our children and expanding their play when we are invited into it in order to help children make connections and create joy.
Our Classroom: The Third Teacher
Our classroom is divided into several learning centers. Our centers address development in gross and fine motor skills, language and early literacy skills, creative arts, STEM foundations, and social and emotional development. Our learning centers include a building center, a dramatic play center, an early literacy center, a gross motor area, and a community table for art, sensory, fine motor and STEM activities. We also have access to a brand new fenced outdoor playground which we utilize daily.
We believe that parents are an integral part of early childhood education. You are the expert on your child and we are here to be your village - to help you be the best parent you can be and to care for your child in the best way that we can. We seek to make the lives of our parents better and easier because we understand the struggles of modern parents. We offer the following perks free of charge to all of our Caterpillar Families.
Parent’s Night Out - One Friday night per month we offer our families free drop off child care from 5:30-10:30 pm so that parents can spend a night away without any worries.
Parent Coffee - We provide coffee to go for our parents every morning at drop off. We use Andytown, Blue Bottle, and Four Barrel coffee beans.
Parent Lending Library - We have an ever growing library of parenting/child development books and resources available to our parents.
Family Field Trips - Every few weeks we offer all of our families the opportunity to meet somewhere as a group on a weekend to spend time together and give our children real life experiences that connect to the things we are learning at school.
Meals & Snacks
We provide Breakfast, Lunch, and Afternoon Snack. Our menu is vegetarian, organic, and nut free. We strive to maintain a balance between foods toddlers like to eat and adventurous flavors and textures. An example menu is below.
Breakfast: Organic Free Range Eggs, Organic Sprouted Wheat Toast topped with Cream Cheese, Organic Blueberries
Lunch: Organic Black Bean Quesadilla (Sprouted Wheat Tortilla, Mexican Cheese Blend, Black Beans), Organic Red Bell Pepper Strips with Guacamole, Organic Banana, Organic Whole Milk
Afternoon Snack: Organic Brioche Toast topped with Cinnamon Goat Cheese Chevre and Figs
Director and Head Teacher
Erin Rhyne is the Director and Head Teacher at The Curious Caterpillar.
She holds an Associate of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Arts with a concentration in Ceramics and Children’s Literature. Erin also has additional education in Early Childhood Development as part of her Bachelors degree. She was selected as The Most Outstanding Student in the Early Childhood Department by the ECE professors. Erin has been working with young children since high school and loves watching very young children grow and discover the world during the magical period of early childhood. Erin is a member of the National Association for the Education of the Young Child (NAEYC).
“I have a 2 year old son and I absolutely love spending time around toddlers. I feel that they are full of life, love, and pure emotion. I have spent most of my life around young children and I think they are fascinating and immensely entertaining. My goal in life is to develop a deep understanding of young children so that I can help parents, caregivers, and teachers of young children have better relationships with the young children they care for. More than that, my goal is to impact the lives of individual children and families by providing the absolute best care possible. It is my goal to make every child at our school feel loved, cared for, and safe so that they can develop and grow.”
Elizabeth recently graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with a minor in Sociology. She has worked with children in a variety of settings inside and outside of the classroom. She developed her love of working with children after participating in an internship where she was a classroom assistant at a preschool that provides educational services to children with developmental disabilities. She hopes to eventually attend graduate school in a psychology related field and would love to continue working with children in the future.
Jenny was born and raised in the Mission District of San Francisco. She is a native Spanish speaker and her family roots are in Guatemala. She is passionate about music and loves sharing that love of music with children. Jenny is currently a college senior pursuing a degree in Human Development - Early Childhood from California State University East Bay. Jenny loves working with young children and hopes to one day become a doula.
We are a proud member of the Wonderschool network.
Wonderschool is a group of early childhood programs that combine the quality standards of the best child care centers with the warmth of an in-home program in your neighborhood.