On San Francisco Preschools

September 19, 2008

A client wrote to ask about preschools, concerned she hadn’t started the application process soon enough for her 1 1/2 year old, and here is what I had to say:

This is an intimidating process because there are so many choices. See this link for what I think is the most complete listing of preschools:


I encourage you to not be so taken with the pedigree of some of these places that you think you just have to have it or your like a bad mom or something. There are a lot of wonderful preschools and I encourage you to just find the right one for you – not just the one with the buzz. Now PP would be perfect because of the location and it is a really good program, but it’s not the only thing out there that’s pretty close by either.

Also, I can’t see how you are late. Pacific Primary won’t take anyone that’s not potty trained, so you should be a ways off 🙂 I think they start at 3. It is a very good program, but very oversubscribed. The people I know who have gotten their kids in are either just lucky or have some demographic qualities that the school is looking for. Two of the families I know have been bilingual. One of them was also a gay couple. The other one was a moderate-income mexican & american couple. This is true with lots of schools in SF as the kids get older – the diversity thing can play a big role.

You have a much better chance of getting in to Pacific Primary, though, now that they have expanded. The school is doubling in size and I doubt applications will double right away, so get one in there!

I sent my son to Stepping Stones on 7th Avenue in the Inner Sunset. Their number is 665-4189. It worked for me b/c it was an all day program and they also take kids starting at about 2, so they don’t require potty training and they even help with that. I liked the program because they go to Golden Gate Park everyday and I liked the idea that my son was going out and about and not in what I would call “baby jail” like some preschools. I would mention that I referred you. Not sure if it will make a difference, but we were well liked and it would be a plus if anything.

Another program in the neighborhood that I really liked, but did not get in to, is Belvedere Montessory, which is over on Belvedere street @ about Frederick. The woman who runs it is also responsible for the Kevin Collins garden project over at our playground. Her name is Barbara Alexander and her number is (415) 564-3173. Check her out on Yelp.

I have a number of friends who have sent their kids to Laurel Hill, which is definitely one of the best known preschools in the city. It is part-time and cooperative, which I couldn’t deal with being a working mom. Cooperative meaning that you have to work there one day a week.

I also have friends who have really loved Rocky Mountain cooperative preschool (415) 552-2929. I think they are still on the board, so if you check it out and want me to put you in touch with them, just let me know.

I also have friends who have been VERY happy with the JCC program and with Marin Day School programs.