Frequently Asked Questions


Classroom & Curriculum

Extended Day Care Program (EDC)

School Population




How do you determine who is admitted to the preschool?

Priority is given in the following order:

  1. Siblings of children who attend or have attended the preschool
  2. Synagogue Members, by membership date
  3. Non-Members by application date (by gender, if needed)*

*Each year we accept non-members. Approximately 20% of our school are non-member families. The only distinction made between member and non-member families is discounted tuition for member families.

What if my child is not accepted?

We will contact you in early March with an offer for a spot in our preschool or the opportunity to be put on our waitlist. Each year we are able to offer spots to families on our waitlist. Spots become available immediately as families delay preschool or make other arrangements. Additionally, there is always some level of attrition over the summer as families relocate or change their preschool plans for other reasons.

If you are not offered a spot or if you decline a spot, you may elect to keep your application in consideration for subsequent years. Many children join us at ages 3, 4, and 5 as our classes have additional space. If an enrolled child leaves our program or a space opens up for other reasons, we can consider accepting children once the school year starts.

Do you have to be Jewish to go the preschool?

No. We have many non-Jewish families (10-15%) at our preschool who appreciate the Jewish values and are comfortable with their children learning about Jewish culture and holidays. Please note that you do not have to be a member of Congregation Emanu-El, but membership at the synagogue does require there to be at least one Jewish adult in the household.

Does my child need to be potty trained?

No. We are ready to assist you in this process when you and your child are ready to begin. In the meantime, we provide diapers and wipes.


Classroom and Curriculum

Do you provide snacks and lunch?

We provide a snack for the children in the morning and again if they stay through the afternoon. We usually serve fruit, a carbohydrate, and a protein. Children who stay past noon bring their own lunch. In addition, we provide food for cooking projects and celebrations.

Are you a nut-free school?

We have many children with food and/or environmental sensitivities or restrictions. We have a strict "no food sharing" policy at lunch and only serve snacks or do cooking projects that meet the collective class' dietary limitations.

How do you determine which class my child will be placed?

We look at the incoming class of children and group them by age, with consideration for gender mix and social dynamics. For children moving "up" from one classroom to another, we always group him/her with some of his/her classmates from the prior year.

What type of enhanced activities are included?

In addition to the creative arts, dramatic play, science, music, storytelling, cooking, and outdoor play, we have several specialists that join our school weekly. Please see Programs for more details.

What is a typical day like?

Each day consists of both teacher-led and child-chosen activities. To see a sample schedule, please reference the Preschool or Pre-K program details.

Will my child learn the ABC's and 123's at Temple Emanu-El Preschool?

Yes! Children have a natural curiosity regarding letters and numbers. Our teachers address this emerging interest by integrating literacy learning through daily activities as well as focused projects based on relevant tasks in the classroom.

Is the preschool "Green"?

"Repairing the Earth" is part of our Jewish values. At the Preschool and synagogue, the staff and students are conscious of reducing waste through resuse, recycling, and composting. Other green activities include the Garden, reclaimed object art, and exploring concepts of cooperation and community work.

How is discipline handled?

It is the policy of the Temple Emanu-El Preschool to use positive methods of behavior management with the children under our care. At no time is punishment (spanking, hitting, humiliation, etc.) allowed to be used in the school or threats made that such punishment will be used. A child is never left unattended or put in a frightening or uncomfortable environment.

The preschool Faculty supports various methods of resolving conflicts. We believe that using diverse methods will help a child to develop a variety of coping skills. The Faculty works with the children to empower them to express their feelings, to state what they want, and eventually to problem solve with each other independently. While we have similar overall goals for each child, we individualize our interactions to meet each child at his/her developmental level and help him/her learn the "next step."


Extended Day Care Program (EDC)

How many children participate in the Extended Day Program?

Approximately 70% of our students participate in some amount of EDC program on a regular basis (staying until 1:30, 3:30, or 5:50 pm).

How is the Full Day Care structured?

EDC (Extended Day Care) is broken into three periods that allow for lunch, outdoor time, nap time (if needed), specialized activity, and free time. For more details please see Extended Day.

How flexible is Extended Care? Can I sign-up for only one day or part of an afternoon of Extended Day?

We realize that each family has unique needs and have structured our Extended Day Care (EDC) accordingly. Extended Day is available for "Early Drop-off" , or in the afternoon in three afternoon segments.

You may contract for extended care at a discounted rate for the year, sign-up for extended care on an ad-hoc basis, or both. We also understand that family needs can change throughout the year and thus allow you to modify your EDC contract once during the year, assuming there is space (e.g. from 5 days until 5:50 to 3 days until 3:30).


School Population

Where do families live?

We have families throughout San Francisco and Marin. A large number of our families live in the northern part of San Francisco, but we have families coming from as far as Mill Valley, Potrero, and Bernal Heights.

We're an Interfaith family and consider ourselves more "spiritual" than religious. How "Jewish" is the preschool?

We pride our preschool and synagogue on being an inclusive environment. You will find our curriculum to be Jewish in values and culture, but appealing to a wide range of Jewish observance and spirituality. Jewish holiday celebrations are often tied to seasonal events and nature, which make them naturally interesting to children.

What is the Parent Community like? What types of families send their children to the preschool?

Our parent community is a warm, supportive, and diverse community. We reflect the city we live in and have a diverse mix of families who choose our preschool. The common factor is that these families care about their child's preschool experience and value the Jewish curriculum that we offer. We are sensitive and supportive of different family situations. Please see Parents & Families for more details.



When it's time to apply to Kindergarten, what type of support is offered?

In the fall, we host a K-night for parents where our director, representatives from Parents for Public Schools and other experts present. Our director also meets with each family to discuss their child and where he/she might best fit in a K-program and supports them throughout the application and acceptance process. We have strong, long-standing relationships with local Independent Schools.

In the spring, the Parent Association holds a "Kindergarten Debrief" where parents who have just completed the K-process (public & private) share their experiences and advice with parents who will be applying the next fall.

Where are children accepted to Kindergarten?

Children from Temple Emanu-El Preschool go on to both Public and Independent Kindergartens, in and outside of San Francisco. In the last few years, our students have been accepted to Kindergarten at a wide variety of public schools and Brandeis Hillel Day School, Cathedral School for Boys, Convent of the Sacred Heart, The French-American School, Hamlin School for Girls, The Katherine Delmar Burkes School, Marin Country Day School, Marin Horizons, Mount Tamalpais, Presidio Hill School, Ring Mountain, San Francisco Day School, San Francisco Friends School, Stuart Hall Boys School, The Synergy School, and Town School for Boys.




© 2015 Congregation Emanu-El 2 Lake Street, San Francisco, CA 94118
Phone: (415) 751-2535
Fax: (415) 751-2511