Tamalpais Preschool offers preschool and pre-kindergarten programs, based on the child's age and level of development. Each child is given many varied opportunities for working and learning through a play-based curriculum.
Our curriculum is tailored to the interests of the children, and evolves as teachers observe topics suggested by the children's spontaneous play. Weekly and monthly themes are the foundation for our presentation of learning tasks and creative activities, across a range of developmental stages.
Our primary teaching philosophy is based on the work of Jean Piaget, a Swiss philosopher and developmental psychologist. This child-centered approach to education facilitates cognitive development by:
—providing activities or situations that engage learners
—presenting challenges and opportunities that actively involve children
—practicing problem solving through language, play and socialization
—engaging children in the appropriate stage of motor or mental operations to provide foundations in language and literacy, pre-mathematics, and science
—working in small groups that help children see things from other children's perspectives—progressively increasing their knowledge of the world around them
Our focus is the "Whole Child". We emphasize the child's overall growth, which includes social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development. (Read an article written by our sister school's Director Lisa Vaillancourt, all about the importance of play—please note, this will take you to the Strawberry Preschool site.)
Board of Trustees
Tamalpais and Strawberry Preschools are joined as a non-profit organization, Tamalpais-Strawberry Preschools, Inc., run by a nine-member Board of Trustees. The Board is comprised of parents from both schools, with the Presidency and Vice Presidency alternating between the two schools each year.
The Board meets monthly, working closely with the Directors and Chief Operating Officer to oversee fundraising, facilities, finance, operations, and policy for the two schools. The Board also coordinates a wide variety of programs and events at the schools throughout the year, including the sale of spirit wear, a Halloween extravaganza, and an Annual Spring Joint Meeting for parents and teachers.
Board members are nominated in March and serve one-year terms. We encourage all parents to volunteer and participate in Board-sponsored activities.
President: Corey Lydstone, StrawberryPreschool
Vice-President: Megan Harju, Tamalpais Preschool
A Non-profit Corporation, We Accept Gifts
Tamalpais-Strawberry Preschools, Inc. is a private 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, tax ID# 94-1375807. We gladly accept tax-deductible donations at any time throughout the year to benefit the schools and our educational programs. For more information, please email our Chief Operating Officer Rose Lofrano.
Our Director, Marcela Amador
Hired on the basis of their professional commitment to children, Tamalpais teachers have been trained in Early Childhood Education and participate in regular in-service training sessions, workshops and seminars. Each teacher strives to be supportive and responsive to children throughout the day, by facilitating play, arranging the physical environment for appropriate learning challenges and guiding children's behavior and emotional development. All our teachers have Early Childhood Education Teaching Permits from the State of California.
Staff meetings are held each week, to discuss programming and to focus on the particular needs of children. A minimum ratio of one teacher to ten children is maintained throughout the day.
Admissions, Programs & Policies
We are now accepting applications for the '23-'24 school year—please download and complete this application form (pdf). Children entering preschool must be between 2 and 5 years old by the end of September.
Tamalpais Preschool encourages you to set up a tour of our school via email or by phone at (415) 388-4286. Parents are welcome to bring their child with them to observe the program.
Informational meetings are held in January or February, the year of enrollment, and serve to acquaint prospective families with plans for the upcoming year. Families are sent notices of the informational meetings in December or early January. Registration begins in March of the year of enrollment.
We encourage families to visit our program and experience a typical day at school. This is particularly important during the year prior to enrollment, as it is best for parents to understand our philosophy and program before entrusting their child to our care.
Wait List Policy & Procedure
After visiting the school or becoming acquainted with our philosophy and programs, parents may place their child's name on our Wait List for future enrollment. There is a non-refundable $100 fee for placement on the wait list, to be mailed to us along with a completed wait list form.
—Parents may place siblings of past or present students on our wait list for our preschool or pre-kindergarten programs without incurring an additional fee as the $100 wait list fee is a "family fee."
—Payment of this fee does not insure a place in our school but does serve to keep your child's name on our list of prospective students. When the registration process begins in the early spring, we give priority to continuing students and siblings, and then proceed to offer spaces on the basis of order on the waiting list. We try to maintain a healthy mix of boys and girls in each class, and may give preference to boys or girls as needed to provide a balanced social grouping.
—The date of our receipt of the wait list form and fee determines your child's place on the wait list.
Tuition fees are based on a September through June calendar and divided into ten monthly payments. Full fees are due for the months in which holidays occur. No refund is given for days missed, including absence for illness. For tuition details for the 2023-2024 school year, download our tuition bulletin (pdf).
Bills are sent out at the beginning of each month. Payment is due by the 25th of the month; a $15 late fee will be charged for tuition not received by the 25th. In addition, there will be a charge at an annual interest rate of 18% (1.5% per month) on any unpaid balance over 30 days. There will be a $10 fee charged for all returned checks. Billing questions should be addressed to our Chief Operating Officer, Rose Lofrano, at email@example.com or (415) 246-4941.
Late pick-up from Child Care results in additional fees. When the first incident of lateness occurs, a $5 fine is charged for any part of each 15-minute segment of time. Subsequent lateness incidents may result in a $25 fine for any part of each 15-minute segment of time. Abuse of pick-up promptness may result in loss of Child Care privileges. Questions regarding Child Care hours should be addressed to the Preschool Director or the Child Care staff.
Tamalpais Preschool offers preschool and pre-kindergarten programs, based on the child's age and level of development. Each child is given many varied opportunities for working and learning through a play-based curriculum. Our curriculum is tailored to the interests of the children and evolves from teachers' observations of topics suggested by the children's spontaneous play. Weekly and monthly themes are the foundation for our presentation of learning tasks and creative activities for a range of developmental stages.
School hours for our Preschool Program are 9:00am to 1:00pm; our Pre-K Program hours are 9:00am to 1:00pm.
Children can attend preschool Monday, Wednesday and Friday, or all five weekdays.
Child Care is offered from 8:00 to 9:00am, as well as from 1:00 to 5:00pm in two 2-hours blocks (1:00 to 3:00pm or 2:00 to 4:00pm).
Tamalpais Preschool generally follows the local public school calendar, beginning school in late August and ending in the beginning of June—download the 2023-2024 School Year Calendar (pdf) for details. Optional summer camp programs are usually offered during the summer months.
The preschool classroom is a spacious playroom, divided into three learning areas, with a large outdoor yard and garden. The indoor space includes an Art Room for artistic and creative expression, a Library that includes children's access to our large collection of children's books, and tables for cognitive small-motor tasks and science exploration. The Library also includes a dramatic play center with dress-up costumes, furniture and housekeeping equipment. Our third indoor area is the Block Room, which includes small unit blocks and large hollow blocks for play. The space can provide more large motor activities such as music, body movement, musical instruments, dancing and the use of other movement equipment.
Our Pre-K program is a five-day program with 16 students and two teachers. The program has been designed for children old enough to attend Kindergarten, but whose families feel an additional year in preschool would be beneficial. The children are usually four-and-a-half to five years old in September. Enrollment in the program is determined by birthday order of currently enrolled students (the older the child, the higher the priority).
Pre-K is located in the church building in two adjoining classrooms. The children move between the classrooms for various activities. These classrooms contain many learning materials and are designed to enhance children's social, emotional, cognitive and physical development.
Tam Pre-K uses a project approach and emergent curriculum. We focus on children's interests, but expand on their knowledge by creating group-based projects. We use the "Handwriting Without Tears" program for literacy, with a combination of phonics and a letter of the week. Like the Preschool, Pre-K focuses on Independence, Social, Classroom, and Pre-Academic Skills, in a combination of child-directed and teacher-directed activities.
The Pre-K classroom has its own two playgrounds, separate from the Preschool. One of the playgrounds is a large motor space with a play structure, sandbox, and building materials, while the smaller yard is an outside classroom and transition area for outdoor creative projects.
written by our Director, Marcela Amador—and review her tips to help ease your child's adjustment to the new and exciting experience of preschool:
—Plan enough time for your child to dress and have a good breakfast. Try to avoid a "last minute rush" by having lunches prepared, sweaters ready, car keys in place, etc. It is best for your child to arrive at school feeling relaxed.
—Dress your child appropriately for school. Growing and learning are a messy business, and dressy, restrictive clothes interfere with a child's freedom to explore new things.
—Bring your child to school on time. It may be difficult for a child (who is just learning social skills) to come into the program after everyone else is busy at work.
—Our Early Morning Child Care from 8:00 to 9:00am is often a quieter, more relaxed time for a reticent child to begin school. Parents may stay for a short while and help their child get involved in activities before the "big day" begins.
—Arrive on time to pick up your child from school. It may be upsetting for a child to be the "last one" at school when everyone else has gone home or when your expected time of arrival has passed. (A child may feel abandoned and afraid, and may refuse to come to school for awhile after such an experience.)
—Please be considerate of everyone by keeping your child home when he or she is not feeling well. A child with a cold, cough, or mild intestinal upset does not have fun at school... and it is unfair to risk infecting other children.
Lunch & Nutritious Snacks
Daily snacks are provided in the morning and in the afternoon. Snack may include crackers, cereal, vegetables, or fruit and a beverage, and an occasional birthday treat.
Children who stay for lunch bring their own lunches to school in a lunch box or sack. Nutritious lunches give children energy and begin a lifetime habit of healthy eating. Pediatricians advise parents to avoid foods that may cause a child to choke, such as popcorn,nuts of all kinds, uncooked celery, carrots and hot dogs. Please no candy or drinks in cans or bottles. Download our Lunch at School information sheet (pdf) for ideas and rules.
Due to a few severe peanut allergies among our students, Tamalpais Preschool is a "nut free" school and we do not allow any peanuts or peanut products in our school. Please avoid peanut butter (a safer alternative is sunflower butter or soy butter) and peanut oil products in lunches or treats brought to school for any occasion. Download our Nut Allergies policy (pdf) for important information.
Vaccination Requirements for Staff & Volunteers (as of August 2020)
California state licensing rules signed into law by former Governor Brown require everyone who volunteers or works in the classroom to have the following 3 vaccines:
—MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella)
—Pertussis (Whopping Cough)
Download the Vaccination Requirements (pdf) for full details.
Download our COVID-19 Site-Specific Protection Plan (pdf), outlining our plan that provides for a safe, clean environment for all children and teachers. We will follow these guidelines to the fullest extent possible and will adjust if necessary due to changing conditions. We have conducted a thorough risk assessment of our business practices to determine these guidelines.
Tamalpais Preschool is housed within the United Methodist Church
at 410 Sycamore Avenue, Mill Valley, CA 94941
Main Phone (415) 388-4286 | Pre-K Phone (415) 388-9286
Please mail checks or documents related to tuition, admissions, the Annual Fund, etc. to:
Tamalpais-Strawberry Preschools, Inc., PO Box 1012, Mill Valley, CA 94942-1012
A private 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, tax ID# 94-1375807, we gladly accept tax-deductible donations.
We are fully licensed by the State of California (ID #210102903).