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SYV Family School's Educational Program:

Here at SYV Family School, we believe we are an extension of your family. As such, we aspire to be your child’s home away from home, where students are free to make mistakes, follow their passions, challenge their intellect, express themselves freely, and feel a deep sense of belonging. 

We believe that when students bring their whole self and have the confidence to express themselves freely, students can engage in authentic, meaningful learning across disciplines. Through ever-evolving classrooms, our students develop academic tenacity, engage in exciting experiences, and deepen learning through hands-on explorations.

At its core, SYV Family School is a place where students build forts and write their own stories, compose music and songs, use math to solve real-life problems, connect with each other, and use our differences to advance our understanding of the world.

The Preschool Program Green Door


We believe that preschoolers learn best in a setting that is friendly, safe and enriching. We think of these first years as the beginning of a lifelong journey of learning. We hope to help the children develop a sense of excitement and exploration for all there is to know. We try to communicate that Family School is a place where one’s feelings and ideas are interesting and valuable. Our dream is to send each Green Door child off to the next educational step with a wonderful sense of confidence and the “I can do that!” joy that comes from feeling successful and appreciated.


Green Door is usually the first major step away from a home setting into a structured learning environment. Our program is designed to support each child’s unique personal growth and discovery. While respecting all the important areas of development, our program emphasizes the social-emotional growth of the child. The important work of learning to separate, work comfortably in a larger group, express one’s ideas and feelings, resolve conflicts and experience consequences, and develop friendships and self-esteem, all occur in the Green Door years. The Beginning Green Door student, the three-year-old, has short periods of large group instruction and long periods with choices of prepared and self-directed activity. A familiar routine with only a few transitions and lots of encouragement, helps the young child develop confidence and enjoyment of the school environment. The Advanced Green Door student, four years and older, is usually ready for longer group time, additional instruction by specialty teachers, field trips, and exposure to exciting cognitive experiences.


The curriculum is designed to provide daily opportunities and ample time for exploration and discovery. The program takes advantage of our unique inside/outside classroom. Green Door is set up to be a lab for the curious preschooler. Examples of learning centers can be found below.


  • Dramatic Play

  • Puppetry

  • Science 

  • Music

  • Writing Centers 

  • Reading Library

  • Enhanced Block Area

  • Puzzles and Games

  • Arts and Crafts

  • Listening Center

  • Classroom Pets


  • Carpentry

  • Sand and water play

  • Gardening

  • Nature Hikes

  • “Messy” Outdoor Art

  • P.E. program

  • Large, well-equipped yard

  • Dramatic play area

  • Science studies (ecology, geology, botany)

Green Door is a constantly changing environment designed to reflect the young child’s interests. There are a variety of teaching themes each school year. Past themes have included The Nocturnal World, My Home Sweet Home, The Ocean, Wildlife in the Santa Ynez Valley, Community Helpers, Insect World and many others.



Preschool is the place to begin to learn to respect the rights and feelings of others. It is important and difficult work that happens every day in Green Door. Our rules are few and simple: “Take care of each other and take care of our classroom and its materials.” Keeping in close touch with each parent is very important in the preschool setting. We strive for constant communication between the home and classroom to keep each child’s progress well understood.


8:30-9:00 Children Arrive

9:00-10:00 Opening Circle

This is an important time for socialization and connection. The critical work of listening, taking turns, expressing ideas and exploring concepts all take place. Opening Circle includes music, concept learning, art, theme projects, choices for the day and a well chosen children’s book. Opening Circle is followed by hygiene and a healthy, Family School provided snack.


10:00 - 11:30 Open Choice

Every day the children have a long period of exploration, skill building, learning and play both inside and outside. A specialty teacher may visit to present science, music or P.E. with a small group of children. Art and theme based projects are going on as well. Most importantly, the developing social skills are encouraged and supported.


11:30-12:00 Second Circle

The closing circle recaps the morning and brings closure to this half of the day. Often at this time, the group has an opportunity to “share” items or ideas with the whole group. It is a highly valued experience for expressing thoughts and feelings. Each child has one “Sharing Day” every week. We usually end the morning with a special book, song and game.

12:00 - 12:50 Hand washing and lunch

  • Lunches are provided from home.

  • After communal lunch, the children play on the yard.

12:50 All school chores

1:00 Half Day students picked up


The children who stay for the Full Day share lunch, outside play, rest, and inside activities together. The tone in the afternoon is often quieter and includes more opportunities for interacting individually with the teachers.


8:30-9:00 Children Arrive

9:00-10:00 Opening Circle

10:00 - 11:30 Open Choice

11:30-12:00 Second Circle

12:00 - 12:50 Hand washing and lunch

  • Lunches are provided from home.

  • After communal lunch, the children play on the yard.


12:50 All School Chores


1:00 - 1:20 Hygiene & Preparation for Rest

  • Books, Songs & Games


1:20 - 2:00 REST TIME

  • Individual cots, quiet, and dark room, music, back rubs & soothing from teachers

  • We do our best to support child and parent sleeping needs

2:00 - 2:45 Book Looking & Table Activities 

  • Board games, art activities, construction toys, play dough, and more


2:45 - 3:00 Goodbye book

& closure of the school day


3:00 Green Door Ends

The children are picked up to go home or they are accompanied to the SYV Family School After Care Program.

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”

― John Dewey

Hallmarks of SYV Family School

Students Are:

  1. Seen, heard, and understood so that students feel they belong

  2. Connected to nature through our idyllic, 5 acre campus located at the base of Los Padres National Forest

  3. Challenged in a variety of ways so that each child can reach their full potential

  4. Supported through our Social-Emotional Learning Program

Learning Looks:

  1. Differentiated so that there are a variety of entry points for each student

  2. Open-ended to provide student ownership over learning

  3. Full of rich experiences through our extensive offering of specialty classes, such as Music, Art, Performing Arts, Spanish, and PE

  4. Adventurous through our curriculum-aligned study-based field trips

  5. Collaborative where children across grade levels work together through our buddies program, and on the yard at snack and lunch

Parents are


At SYV Family School, we strive to be an extension of your family. As such, parents play an integral role in our school and the educational journey undertaken here on the Lower Campus. These early years are a crucial time for parents as they come to understand their child in the formal education setting.


To help with this formative transition, we provide learning resources to help make sense of your growing child. Additionally, we cultivate an inclusive, welcoming, open environment and encourage parents to support each other through monthly coffee cart mornings and Family Circle, our parent organization that helps support each other, and the school.


Additionally, parents are encouraged to take an active role in the Green Door classroom. We offer a variety of ways for parents to engage in their child’s education here at school. From leading classroom experiences, serving as room parent, and chaperoning field trips,  to providing important feedback about how your child’s learning comes home, we pursue an open, active partnership with all our families.

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